Home News Featured News Should Singaporeans “appreciate what we have” or can they look the other...

Should Singaporeans “appreciate what we have” or can they look the other way while inequality grows in society?

Author

Date

Category

- Advertisement -

Should Singaporeans simply “appreciate what we have”? Or can they afford to look the other way while inequality is a growing problem in society?

In a letter to The Straits Times published on Friday, August 31, Lee Teck Chuan emphasized that Singaporeans should be grateful for what they have, and must consider how fortunate they are that their governmental systems take such good care of its citizens.

He further explained that the government extends care from birth till death “not in a socialist welfare way that discourages effort.”

Mr. Lee believes that Singaporeans should not take for granted the ability to buy Housing Board apartments, and even bigger ones as personal needs increase. He commended the government for its good governance and stability due to government continuity.

- Advertisement -

He notes that in the nation “every generation lives better than the last” and asks, “Where else in the world does a government pay attention to even small details – from the affordability of milk powder to utilities to healthcare?”

Mr. Lee admits that social stratification is a cause for concern for many, there is systemic fairness, and “the spoils of our economic achievements are shared equitably.”

Mr. Lee’s letter to the Times’s forum is in stark contrast to Singaporean writer Judith Huang’s widely read article in The South China Morning Post, “In a Singapore full of crazy rich foreigners, inequality is becoming ingrained,” which has evidently struck a s chord and has been shared more than 1500 times.

Ms. Huang points out that while Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asian novel and its sequels have been on bestseller lists, at the same time, many Singaporeans have also been reading This is What Inequality Looks Like, written by sociologist Teo You Yenn, containing essays about families who live on less than S$1,500 a month.

She points out that because Singapore has a tax cap of 22 percent and neither capital gains tax nor estate duty, it has become a haven for rich people of other nationalities, including Eduardo Saverin, who co-founded Facebook. But welcoming the ultra-rich has not been without consequences for others who can afford less.

The author recounts the story from 2012 when a very wealthy mainland Chinese man driving a Ferrari crashed into a taxi driven by a Singaporean national, which ended in the deaths of both the Chinese and Singaporean men. “The crash was a metaphor for the collision course wealthy foreigners and working-class locals were on,” Ms. Huang writes.

Ms. Huang also writes about her own experiences as one person whose forebears are from a lower income group, when her family was forced to give up the land that her grandfather, a bumboat business owner, had worked hard for, and was only compensated with a small apartment.

And while education is supposed to level the field of opportunity, this was not the case for Ms. Huang and her family. Despite her mother’s stellar performance at the Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, she was still looked down upon by her elite classmates. Ms. Huang in turn refused to go to that school, though she ended up getting an education in Harvard.

Ms. Huang cites entrepreneur Ho Kwon Ping, who warned that while education is a “social leveler”, it may actually “perpetuate intergenerational class stratification”.

The author ends her essay with writing, “Every morning in schools throughout the island, children take our national pledge, promising to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality. Do we still mean what we say?”

Send in your scoop to news@theindependent.sg 

- Advertisement -

Almost 8 out of 10 vote PN can’t survive GE 15 without UMNO

Almost eight out of 10 respondents on a Twitter survey voted that Bersatu will not survive GE-15 without UMNO, according to BFM radio survey held this morning (22/2/2021) during its Morning Run programme. Of the 206 voters (respondents) in the final countdown,...

Foodpanda rider called “Blur Sotong” by netizen

Singapore — A Foodpanda rider shared his unfortunate experience with a customer. He took to Facebook on Saturday morning (Feb 20), sharing screenshots of the conversation. Posted by Chan Okada SJ on Friday, 19 February 2021 The rider shared that the customer had asked...

Journalist claims Karen Mok is the only woman Stephen Chow has ever thought of marrying

Hong Kong -- Last year, comedian Stephen Chow's public and ugly legal battle with his former girlfriend over their finances gave a rare peek into the personal life of the fiercely private 58-year-old. It was reported that out of all the women...

Send in your scoop to news@theindependent.sg 

Theindependent