MSF Inequality paper: Full of ‘rubbish’?

I refer to the article “Singapore system has done better than other countries in improving social mobility: MSF paper” (Straits Times, Nov 1).

It states that ” The Singapore system is not perfect in improving the lives of the low-income and vulnerable families, but it has performed better than most countries, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in a first-of-its kind report released on Thursday (Nov 1).”

As to “In an occasional paper that illustrates the efforts and the progress Singapore has made in improving social mobility, the ministry said many of its measures have worked well in boosting progress and social mobility” – the fact that this is “a first-of-its kind report”, may arguably be quite telling – that we have been ‘sleeping’ or ‘in denial’ until the recent release of the Inequality Index which ranked Singapore, 149th out of 157th countries.

We may arguably, still be ‘in denial’ as every statement from a member of Government and every government ministry have been to defend ourselves, against the report.

In this connection, “dismissing suggestions that the recent move to set up a taskforce to help children from disadvantaged families was reactive in nature, Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah stressed on Thursday (Nov 1) that the Government had recognised the problem of inequality early on” (“Taskforce to help children from disadvantaged families not a reactive move, says Indranee‘, Today, Nov 1) – may arguably, be so obvious – if the setting up of the task force is not reactive – why is it that such a task force has never been done before?

With regard to “”But the same measures now bring new challenges that we need to address, to ensure that stratification is not enshrined and social mobility continues to be spurred,” it added.

“But we must not forget that trade-offs are unavoidable in social policy, and all too often good intentions have led to counterproductive results” – let’s look at some of the trade-offs.

In this regard, and in respect of “Still, when it comes to educational progress, the results are encouraging, according to the 31-page paper released by MSF.

For example, nine in 10 students from the bottom 20 per cent of households by income made it to post-secondary education today, up from five in 10 students 15 years ago” – this is the trend in practically every country in the world.

I wonder if one can find any country in the world that has not progressed in this area, in the last 15 years.

As to “And 15-year-olds here from disadvantaged backgrounds have performed consistently better, in areas such as maths and science, than those of similar backgrounds in other developed countries, going by the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) test” – the fallacy of this is that what really matters, arguably, may be the difference between the “lower” and “higher” students in a country (Singapore), and not the difference between the “lower” students in two different countries (Singapore versus other countries).

With regard to “Education is among several areas highlighted in the paper, which also lists government schemes and policies in employment, home ownership, and healthcare to improve the lot of the vulnerables.

It said the employment rates for Singaporeans and permanent residents have also risen in the past decade, especially for the older workers. For workers aged 65 and older, the employment rate rose from 14.4 per cent in 2007 to 25.8 per cent last year” – why is there always selective disclosure of the jobs’ data, year after year for so long?

For example, since the data can be disclosed for including and excluding Foreign Domestic Workers (FDW), and the unemployment data into Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners – there is absolutely no reason why the data cannot be broken down for the employment growth to Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners?

In respect of “The Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) has been one of the most effective schemes in getting people, especially the older workers, to work, the report noted. The WIS scheme encourages low-wage workers to work, by providing Central Provident Fund top-ups and cash supplements. For example, a 60-year-old earning $1,200 a month gets $300 more through the WIS” – do we not realise that we have the lowest 10th and 20th percentile wages (excluding employer CPF contribution) among all the developed countries in the world?

As to ‘Home ownership is another area Singapore can be proud of.

Some 87 per cent of Singaporeans in the bottom 20 per cent by resident household income own their homes, which is significantly higher than in other cities” – what’s the point of a very high home ownership rate when HDB prices start to decline when they are more than 40 years old, until zero at the end of the 99-year lease – wiping out all the CPF and cash used for the HDB flat?

With regard to “Besides, aided by significant housing grants and affordable prices of flats, more poor families are moving out of heavily subsidised rental flats to become home owners.

There were about 500 such families in 2013 and this doubled to almost 1,000 households last year. The numbers applying for a rental flat have also fallen by 44 per cent in the same time period (between 2013 and 2017)” – isn’t the increase in the number of 1 and 2-room HDB flats a better measure?

In this connection, “The stock of 1- and 2-room HDB rental flats was cut from a peak of 135,000 units in 1982 to a low of just 46,000 units in 2008″  – does the fact that rental flats have increased to about 60,000 now, indicate that we may now have more lower-income Singaporeans who cannot afford to buy HDB flats – and thus have to rent under HDB’s rental scheme – given that the number of such flats have increased by about 18,000 or 43 per cent, from 42,000 in 2007 to about 60,000 now?
In respect of “The Gini coefficient after taxes and transfers, a measure of income inequality, has declined from 0.439 in 2007 to 0.401 in 2017. The lower the score, the more equal a society is.

Using the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development method, Singapore’s Gini coefficient, before taxes and transfers, dipped from 0.438 in 2007 to in 2017. After taxes and transfers, the decrease is from 0.388 in 2007 to 0.356 in 2017.

Mr Leonard Lim, research associate at the Institute of Policy Studies, pointed out that Singapore’s Gini coefficient, after taxes and transfers, is lower or comparable to developed countries like the United States – a testament to the Government’s efforts to redistribute income” – While the Ginicoefficient for Singapore seems to be lower than New York, London and Hong Kong, much of the “transfers” may not be disposable income that can be used.


Leong Sze Hian



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14 Responses to “MSF Inequality paper: Full of ‘rubbish’?”

  • Malaysia boleh Singapore bodoh:

    One of the compelling reasons for REGIME CHANGE is the lack of openness and transparency in the public sector (and therefore REAL accountability).

    PAP will NEVER change.

    Just VTO – the only way to get the TRUTH.

    Throw out the PAP at the next GE.

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  • RDB:

    Administrative gagament blockheads are just that: academics without realities brains. They speak without coherent sensible thinking.

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  • RDB:

    Aiyoh… Scams after scam to bluff the lower intelligent and observant mind how goody pap stull is… with their 4th generation lacky ministers.

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  • Cooking the social narrative:

    Duplicity is a mortal sin especially in administering to the people at large.

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  • swiss cost of living:

    when lky was in power, he was master of fake news. anything good is broadcast and no end linked to himself and his pap party. anything bad is suppressed. if any alien publication dared to tell the truth, either they were sued or banished from the small island nation.

    then came seat warmer goh chock tong. this one, being weak but desired to be in good book of lky, did the unthinkable for any decent human. this seat warmer goh chock tong, he lied some more, much more than lky. he lied about many things. world cup football, swiss standard of living, and such lies.

    the fake news mentality is now cast in concrete in clown pap psyche.

    if anything anyone anywhere says Singapore is number 1, immediately repeat after repeat after repeat in pap states times, on pap mediacorpse.

    if anything anyone anywhere says Singapore is 149 out of 157, one pap clown clan member after another comes out to justify why the anything anyone anywhere has been wrong. and if cannot refute the truth, bring out the lie that in comparison with 5th world countries such as nigeria and such Singapore is actually doing better.

    some time back, the only channel we subscribed was al jazeera. we are Chinese but we figured al jazeera was about the only news channel that dared to tell the truth. so when al jazeera broadcast a documentary about the poor living in east coast beach tents, clown pap discontinued al jazeera.

    such is the behaviour of a fake news master. WHY so low? because many things to hide. lack of talent but pays each other S$m so die die must fake news to justify progress report card.

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  • Sabbath recall:

    You don’t love God if you don’t love your neighbor

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  • No degree propaganda:

    The intensive prpaganda to urge Spore youngs than even without a university degree, he could just as easy as a degree holder to attain wealth n position in the society is a clear n definitive evidence that PAP has no intention to promote citizenry mobility upwards n in fact a definite evil plot to enslave citizens while they import foreigners to boss over them. The exireme arrogance of Chan CS in threatening Singaporeans that he has NO PROBLEM to IMPORT FOREIGN Pmets to replace them. This arrogant threat smells suspicious that he n his comtemporaries could be the cuprits behind the the excessive retrenchment of Singaporeans n replaced by the foreigners they have imported without considering the adequacy of job a vailsbility for them.
    This could also be said about the schools n universities which is overloaded by their mindless offer of scholarship to foreign students resulting in insufficient admission places for the citizens as it became their obligation to accomodate these foreign students they have supported generously with the state funds to the tunes of billions while Citizens not only limited by the admission places but also have to pay increasingly higher fees. This could be their desperate attempt of their intensive propaganda that it is not necessary to have higher education to become rich n powerful. Even the ministers went to the extent that there will be no degree holders becoming cabinet ministers n instant multimillionaires. The mainstrean media the papplps considered to be the icon of true news intentionally put forwards cases of school dropouts n gangsters multimillionaires without putting forward the success rate of degree n nondegree holders. Even educationiskts, who are the icons of the society to encour.age the youngs to strive for the highest they can achieve academically remain evilly dumb perhaps from fear of losing their own ricebowls n career advancement. These could ionly be the reasons for anyone not to speak out as their professionals demand.
    It is obvious that polanpa cult destroys the nation building n development. Chian ST’s persistent reninder of Absolute power corrupts absolutely as evidenced by the self gratification of instant multimillionaires n the $ 25m splash on what they think will put them in history for hosting what they thought as thr historic meeting of NK & uS. What they would labelled as fake will be the contrary but it is nothing but the truth as the post meeting events reveal.
    Tharman speaks confidently once when he was viewed as a possible second Seat warmer until he was drown by the nepotic regime n floated berrak Chan, a Rotten Idiot like GCT. Senior citizens may remember LKY public comment of 6 cylinders Augustine but was drowned by his arrogance to downgraded by LKY ito only working on…

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  • HarderTruths:

    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

    Benjamin Disraeli

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  • No degree propaganda 2:

    reduced to a law canteen n other campus canteen in NUS as a bald preacher with a bible in hand. NUS graduates at that time mat have the privilege of hearing his sermon after he has mercilessly caused to cancel his wedding at the last minutes call by his would have been better half.
    A merciless man with a posthumous broken family over his last wish n one who has stemmed out the best n essential part of democracy which is checks n balances with the presence of a healthy represntation of opposition members; disrestfully control the autonomy of his PM GCT who for suspicious reasons succumbed to be thecseat warmer to complete his evil nepotic persuit n anti constitutionally n disrestfully rejected n prevented President Ong in his quest to be dutiful n the builder of nation destructive polanpa bootlicking brownosing cult would have a memorial reminding Citizens of his anti national political life to the future generation who are encouraged to be dropouts n gangsters just like the memorial of QinGui n his wife of the Southern Song Dynasty.
    Vote PAP means voting a life of maids n labourers in your own country just as the nepotic first leader has said that SIN citizens were not becoming maids n labourers in foreign countries like the PRC, Indians etc, indonesians n pinoys. He has fulfilled his promise thru his son that citizens remain as maids n labourers while the 3rd n 4th gens would bring the foreign bosses over to Singapore.
    What is more bizzard is the advice so generously given by the nepotic chief that if citizens want a job, he must STEAL it from the hungry, greedy n aggressive foreigners his govt has imported by the millions BUT they have to train themselves first to be hugrier greedier n more aggressive than the foreigners his govthas imported.
    This must be Guiness Record Political Advice from a nepoticized democratic national leader to advocate greed n agressiveness plus thieving citizenry.
    The wave of power of the populace to decide their destiny n secure their freedom n justicehas passed on from Malaysia to Brazil nmaybe on its way back. Put the pressure on with a recersed threat n action to put the papist in their place. There sure woud bealot todig into thedarkess where pap operates forthe ast 50 ys. Mahathir’squest has been faciilitated by plps incuding UMNO members changing sides. So VTO not kpkb n got repeatedly insulted by the greedy n bestial nepotic regime.

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  • LIONS:

    Denying that there is NO INEQUALITY is not just a lie or FAKE NEWS,it is THICK-SKINNED NEWS.

    BUT,hey,look at how they keep harping non-stop when it comes to *praises* like World Bank Human Capital Index n claim it as SOCIAL MOBILITY?….ask the boastful Lee Ah Long.


    Is this truly HUMAN CAPITAL INDEX efficay or INACCURACY?

    Nah,Stop Boasting,your are SG PM N YOUR sgs are sufferring from your daft policies n you think you have done good?

    You are really a self-conceipted CLOWN.

    Ih,i firgot,THE CIRCU$ IS IN TOWN!

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  • Haigen-diaz:

    At the end of this column, Mr. Leong Sze Hian tells us, “While the Gini coefficient for Singapore seems to be lower than New York, London and Hong Kong, much of the “transfers” may not be disposable income that can be used.” – Unquote. The more equality a group or country has, as measured by the Gini index or other modified metric of equality, the better the economic efficiency of that country. To look at today’s zeal for wealth as a character defect, when it is actually the direct result of deregulated vertical integration that’s given monopolist’s powers to the greediest amongst us. Inequality of power (political as well as social and economic) creates a feedback loop in which a great number of individuals contribute to the creation of income and thus wealth, but the benefits flow only to those who already hold the power. Wealth Inequality which creates Structural Inequality (lack of upward social mobility) which creates a significant economic drag on the overall functioning of an economy. And that, we all feel. It could also be that the meritocracy is working too well, or at least that the myth of it has taken over. What we have is vulture capitalism with a depression balloon being inflated by the oligarchy through insane fiscal policy. The creation of wealth depends on talent, and luck, and power, but also on permission. We the people permit this behavior and try to put as few impediments in the path of this pursuit as possible, but we do have to step in when that pursuit is destructive to the environment, exploitative, or is a distortion of our society. Wealth does create power, and that power can be a problem in its own right, particularly when the rich use the system to entrench their wealth. Framing the case of economic inequality in terms of morality or fairness misses the economic point. The productivity hypothesis of the Keynesians – that productivity of the individual is determined by its’ level of education – obviously is false (Piketty’s data is the ultimate proof, but Marxists have been saying it since Marx himself). . .To better define, isolate, and reward the drivers of wealth would require very complex, segmented analyses. As a causative variable, wealth simply encapsulates many other variables or it is a variable with high multicollinearity. Yet, it represents to those possessing it a set of traits well worth preserving; supporters of strong private property rights would argue that via this proxy, important “personal” traits and rights are protected. Thus, a cost/benefit analysis of the economic status quo ante must be very cognizant of the costs of upsetting the “current apple cart.” I know, utopic; but if you can’t dream it… The term needed here is “aristocracy” not meritocracy.

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  • LIONS:

    whats in the NATIONAL PLEDGE?
    BECOS if there is no justice and equality,there will be no true MOBILITY???


    THE PAPsters cant see this simple truth.

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  • LIONS:



    THE PAPpig$ need to learn from these two simple statements from GE.

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  • @ Haigen-diaz:

    @ Haigen-diaz

    Yours posts are always good read. If you could also make them less taxing on the eyes separating them into shorter paragraphs.

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