The Minister is right – let’s look at outcomes to see if there is inequality and rich-poor disparity

Look at the outcomes Singapore has achieved, Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee has urged. This was his response to a report by United Kingdom-based charity organisation Oxfam which ranked Singapore among the bottom 10 countries in the world at tackling inequality.

The Minister is right on point. Outcomes are what matters and outcomes are precisely what Singaporeans have been concerned with for years.

The government touts home ownership, help schemes and safety nets, GST vouchers and Medisave top-ups, but the outcomes right before our eyes are that hordes of senior citizens have to slog so hard for so little well into their twilight years. They are the old men and old women we see everyday as cleaners, servers, security guards, tissue sellers, and scrap and cardboard collectors.

These are the tangible outcomes of the rich-poor gap – the rich get richer and the poor have to continue working till their bodies cannot take it anymore because they have to continue paying and paying.

As a friend remarked recently: “In the past one person could support a household of five, today five children cannot even support one aged parent.” The is the outcome of the government’s failure to address the inequality and the rich-poor disparity.

Another tangible statistic we can look at is that despite decades of work, about 50% of Singaporeans cannot even meet the CPF full minimum sum at the age of 55.

Singapore has stubbornly bucked the trend among developed countries, refusing to set a poverty line. The government has said it is better to have a flexible approach in helping the needy through a combination of schemes and not be tied down to a poverty line because people may still fall through the cracks.

In Hong Kong, about one-fifth of the population fall below the poverty line it set in 2013. Singapore could be in a similar situation. Research has shown that up to 20% of resident households here have to get by with less than $1,500 a month.

Last year, there were statistics showing that the top 20% own 73% of Singapore’s wealth and the bottom 20% own just 1% of the overall wealth.

So if Minister Desmond Lee wants to focus on outcomes, they are all there for him to look at. It’s precisely outcomes that Singaporeans have been looking at and talking about for years.



Augustine Low

* The author is a proud but concerned citizen. Voicing independent, unplugged opinion is his contribution to citizen engagement.



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17 Responses to “The Minister is right – let’s look at outcomes to see if there is inequality and rich-poor disparity”

  • oxygen:

    HOME OWNERSHIP? A big fart of fiction!! To avoid doubt, take on the invitation of M. Ravi and/or Lim Tean in a public debate on this question.

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  • Lye Khuen Way:

    Yes, by all means let us look at outcomes.

    As pointed out elsewhere, some of the more glamorous outcomes cited by the Minister were in fact “subsidized” by the patients themselves in Medical Healthcare Outcome and Parents providing Private Tuition for their children in the Education Outcome.

    The Minister might want to take some time off to reexamine his claims.

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  • Hum Liao Lah:

    And the worst outcome is yet to come – the result of asset enhancement policy which gives an illusion of wealth to public flat dwellers – when the 99-years-lease expiry exploded in our faces.

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  • Malaysia boleh Singapore bodoh:

    Let us “look at outcome” is a good example of “fake news”. Why? Because it is the (usual) misleading half-truth. It only focuses on results and not the resources available (massive reserves and perennial Budget surpluses) to solve the problem. Moreover, it does not properly define it. For example, it does make clear the actual cost of living for “heartlanders” in Singapore. (That is why there is also no minimum wage.) The former will likely clearly show the MASSIVE UNDEREMPLOYMENT among Singaporeans.

    The only way to get the TRUTH is to have REGIME CHANGE. VTO.

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  • lying pap a bunch of liars:

    pap has all the data.

    of all local born citizens, how many can meet minimum sum?

    don’t give doctored percentages. give the hard numbers, xxx local born citizens, yyy cannot meet minimum sum.

    if these numbers alone are provided, with just a single glance, any local born citizen with a head shall know they have been screwed the past 50+ years by pap.

    if the analysis is pushed harder, tell citizens the cpf amount of the 80+ pap clan members. the hard numbers, xxx this much, yyy that much.

    then, once again, any local born with a head on shoulder, shall know these pap clan members have cpf numbers that are so much larger than the median local born. in other words, further proof pap has been screwing local born.

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  • Bapak:

    What is right for Peter may not be for Paul…..hahahahaha! What you say, you 70% Sinkies? Win again, because of you. Surprisingly, they never wrong. Not even once, should be recognized by Guinness World Records.

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  • Rabble-rouser:

    The Asian Mentality of Authoritarian govts & Merchantilist Economic policies; State-directed investment; Big State-owned or State-supported enterprises; ultimately the Big sacrifices (Wage repression (way below CPI rate of increases), financial sacrifice (*sic* CPF 2.5%), Union-busting or Wayang unions (pro-employer), withholding consumption, pushing retirement age beyond 65 years old, etc) on the part of the populace in supporting such policies & economic thinking.
    When one gets the opportunity to live in a Western Democracy & at the same time, understand Economic 1st Principles & Financial knowledge – you can see the unsustainability of such policies & the futile pursuit of an economic strategy (doomed to fail) that only enrich a few over the masses.
    You see, a Parasitic Economy that sucks the “Blood, Sweat & Tears” from the masses – can only do so on a downward descend until total economic collapse. Over a period of time, the young, those with capital, business acumen & skillsets leave for better pastures leaving behind the less capable or those who have a hidden political agenda behind “BRAIN DRAIN”.
    Those old rich in Asian Economies tend to dominate in banking, in essential products or services, in real estate development, etc. There’s tend to be too little creativity & innovation within Asian economies. Why? Much of the so-called creativity & innovation were copyright infringements, technological ‘stealing’, ‘me-too’ copying of designs, functions, etc. No originality.
    The skeptial & cynical mind would see Asian govts & the rich sleeping on the same side of the bed. The problem with Asian govts – they pursue the strategy of “Controlling the Political Narrative & Repressing the Dialogue process”. In short, policies & law-making were implemented without any representations from the public ie. “Rubber-stamping”.
    In S’pore or rather PAP’s case, it was suppressing the dialogue such that it take prodigious amounts of courage & sacrifice to “speak out”. “Killing the chicken to scare the monkey” a Chinese idiom ie. to punish an individual as an example to others. PAP’s energies in doing such things have taken away their focus from the economy (growing small business, entrepreneurship, job creation, etc). Ask yourself why waste so much energy in ‘fixing’ JB Jeyaretnam, Workers Party (AHTC) when they weren’t a serious threat? Isn’t it a waste of time & resources when it could be put to more productive use!

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  • fucqueupap:

    Demon Lee has confirmed that the millionaire PAPies and their elite policymakers don’t walk the ground.

    The people those elites mingle and rub shoulders with are the ones who live in GCB not HDB; drive Audi, Mercedes and Bentley not those who take the MRT and those who earn at least $500k salaries. Thus the outcomes they see are not the same as what ordinary people like you and I see.

    Even if they do see homeless people sleeping in HDB void decks or streets, they’d bluff themselves that it’s because it’s more windy sleeping in the open, similar to saying old folks collecting cardboard is a form of exercise or cleaning toilets and clearing tables are to past time.

    They keep telling themselves poverty isn’t an issue in sg so that they don’t have to do much about it but this survey has told them to face up the truth!

    Any rating that says sg is best, they’d readily agree, no mistakes. But if there’s any survey like this one from Oxfam that exposed the fact and put sg in bad light, instead of a self reflect, they’ll go all out to say the survey is wrong and full of errors. Arrogance? Or complacency?

    Since PAPies like to quote lky, this was what lky says about leadership: “What I fear is complacency. When things always become better, people tend to want more for less work.”

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  • Bobo:

    Whatever past failed policies that resulted the current poor live of those people are irreversible. They were given a choice to make a difference in every GE. Unfortunately, they were being fooled by dangling carrots. What we have witnessed now is going to happen to anyone of us in our future, maybe in even worst case that we could ever imagine. Again we were also given a precious time to make a difference. How many one of us still want to remain as sucker (forever)? Wake-up Singaporeans!

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  • LIONS:

    Oh,maybe we shud look at the minister’s bank account?

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  • Vote PAP:

    Not only are they fixing the oppositions, they have been fixing us, all the times.

    Just look at the MiloIndianCumMalay stunt they did on the stinkies. A total disregard, spit on your face, no Hew attitude onto you. How can people accept such treatments? Is it done for you or for them? What did you benefit out of it?

    Look at the purchase electricity stunt bullshit, all the prices are over and above and beyond compare Malaysia rates… Store A to Z, Let you choose stores, rates remote base controlled, psychologically it became your burden of your own choice, blame your own self and the mind forgotten why Malaysia so cheap. The PayPay electricity made of Gold is it? KNNB

    Look at the HDB lease/rental rate per year, very very more expensive than even Free Hold. And so many terms and conditions attached, literally under their control, still some stinkies, kneel down thank you them for grant….. hahahahahahah how stupid. Study until U cannot do basic Maths. KNN better dig a hole and buried up.

    Cannot understand all the literates, especially U grads… got brain or no brain or no balls.?

    So, People what you want to do next.

    These stinkies very how lian and kia C lots, always like to think they are over and above other people, like to do opposite, so I say;

    VOTE PAP LAH, you happy loh.

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  • We are no fools!:

    Let’s not kid ourselves. The inequality gap will continue to widen as Ministers & Co continue to build on their multi-million dollars salaries. Doctors and other professionals continue to charge and over-charge their patients and so the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer.

    It’s a “no-brianer” why the Garmen prefers a flexible approach so that they can be seen to be “helping” the needy at the appropriate time when public support is crucial. You know when! Nothing to do with falling through the cracks.

    Action speaks louder than words. No point complaining if the majority do not have the guts to bite the bullet! Just continue to exist in mediocrity!

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  • HarderTruths:

    The 70% voted pappies have given ful support to gahmen policies…

    Oxfam has no case.

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  • Gravy train outcomes for some:

    For starters we have masses of men and women earning the lowest median wages among economically developed countries in the world, yet Singapore has boastef the most expensive cost of living for years. Did some 70 old despairing people take their own lives in 2017?

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  • Zorro:

    ‘The government has said it is better to have a flexible approach in helping the needy through a combination of schemes and not be tied down to a poverty line because people may still fall through the cracks.’

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  • Zorro:

    Sounds like he’s telling us to let the ends justify the means. In that case why do we still need rules and laws ? Whoever wins must be right cause that’s the desired outcome in anything right ?

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  • james Lee:

    Spot on!!!
    It’s time for all true blue Singaporeans and concerned new citizens including the PG and MG uncles to do the needful comes next GE to “kick” all these useless and self-centered MPs out to restore the “GOOD OLD TIMES” for our beloved Nation.

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