Singapore—In Parliament on March 5, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee talked about how inequality is a complex issue that needs to be addressed on several fronts, saying that it must be tackled “practically, rather than ideologically.”
The following day, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted an article from The Straits Times about Mr Lee’s take on inequality, and echoed his sentiments, highlighting the efforts of several ministries working together to upgrade existing projects aimed at giving aid to those in need of help.
Desmond Lee’s speech in Parliament
The Minister for Social and Family Development said on Tuesday, during his speech for the Committee of Supply, “There are many causes of income inequality. Because there are multiple causes, our solutions must be multi-faceted. We must tackle inequality practically, rather than ideologically.”
He said that the investment parents can make in their children’s lives varies. He also mentioned that some parents have difficulties in life that hinder them, and others may have a hard time getting the support they need.
In order for help to be more accessible to people, Mr Lee talked about an initiative called Community Link (ComLink), which is a plan that will be placed in four estates with rental blocks from 2019 to 2021 and will act as an “accessible focal point” for residents who need help.
The areas chosen for the ComLink scheme are Jalan Kukoh, Marsiling, Kembangan-Chai Chee and Boon Lay. Around one thousand families are expected get aid through this endeavor.
The Minister also said that each estate would be given tailor-fit programmes and services.
Meanwhile, in Boon Lay and the broader Jurong West, the Ministry will start a Localised Community Network pilot programme to stage interventions to aid youth and their families in complicated family situations.
The ministry will work hand in hand with the Education Ministry’s new Uplift Programme Office for this endeavor. “By facilitating fuller data sharing between the relevant government agencies, we hope to gain a better understanding of the challenges they face at home, in school or elsewhere. In doing so, we hope to help them resolve, or cope with the issues they are facing.”
Mr Lee expressed concern for these youth. “Without proactive early support and intervention, some of these students may underperform or start to skip school. Yet, these are young people with potential and promise; and we want to ensure they have the best chance in life.”
PM Lee weighs in on the matter
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong weighed in on the matter on March 6, focusing on income inequality and social mobility as “key issues of our time,” as he posted a link to the Minister for Social and Family Development’s speech the day before.
He urged, “We must tackle them effectively, to keep our society open, egalitarian, and united.”
The Prime Minister mentioned how the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of National Development and Ministry for Social and Family Development are all working together “to provide multi-layered support for disadvantaged students, low-wage workers, families living in rental homes, and vulnerable Singaporeans.”
He called on ordinary Singaporeans to help in these efforts as well. “Citizens need to get involved too. We all need to be open, neighbourly, and inclusive, regardless of income or status, to push back on social stratification. Every Singaporean, regardless of background, deserves the chance to succeed, to improve their lives and the lives of their loved ones.”
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