Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One country 2 people....

When I served my NS, there were children of high income earners and high ranking civil servants who were identified as "white horses". Former minister Cedric Foo explained that it was necessary to identify these "white horses" so that they receive no special treatment!! I'm so surprised such a good policy is now scrapped.

The income gap in Singapore is somewhere between Burundi and Kenya. The reason is because our elites are so capable, they worlds above the rest of us. Hence, their income has to reflect their superior abilities. The reason why the rest of us are so lowly paid is because our ordinary minds are no match for those of the ruling elites.

Ordinary Singaporeans are lucky to have such capable elites run this country. Of course, these elites are so good at telling us to work harder and longer so that we can make something out of our ordinary lives. While the gap is so big and there is no hope for most of us ordinary citizens to catch up with them since they are given scholarship, opportunities and high salaries...we should not be envious. Our elites help to motivate us by urging us not to be choosy when finding jobs, to give up our benefits without fussing, to accept fee increases without whining and most of all they teach us to better appreciate the grand achievements of the PAP govt.

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http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/12/19/singapore.inequalities.reut/index.html?section=cnn_latest
Singapore flames 'uncaring elite'
Singapore is Asia's second-richest country after Japan, but in terms of income disparity it ranks between Burundi and Kenya.
POSTED: 12:51 a.m. EST, December 19, 2006

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- When Wee Shu Min, the teenage daughter of a Singapore member of parliament stumbled across the blog of a Singaporean who wrote that he was worried about losing his job, she thought she'd give him a piece of her mind.
She called him "one of many wretched, undermotivated, overassuming leeches in our country" on her own blog and signed off with "please, get out of my elite uncaring face".
Wee was flamed by hundreds of fellow bloggers, but when her father Wee Siew Kim -- an MP in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's constituency -- told a Singapore newspaper that "her basic point is reasonable", the row moved well beyond the blogosphere.
The episode highlighted a deep rift in Singapore society and was an embarrassment for the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and prime minister Lee, who has made the reduction of the income gap one of the priorities of his new government.
"Coming from an MP in the prime minister's constituency, these comments really were political dynamite," political commentator Seah Chiang Nee told Reuters.
"If the political arrogance and elitism get any worse, the PAP will lose more electoral ground," he added.

Singapore is Asia's second-richest country after Japan with a gross domestic product per capita of about $27,000, ranking between EU member Italy and Spain. But in terms of income disparity, Singapore is in altogether different company.

Singapore's Gini index -- which measures inequality of income distribution among households -- of 42.5 puts it between Burundi and Kenya, the UN Human Development Report 2006 shows.
"Yes, the Gini coefficient is very high. Through housing, health care and education, we have tried to narrow the income gap, but not through wages," National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan told Reuters in an interview last month.

Welfare as a dirty word

Singapore pays no employment benefits, no pensions and has no legal minimum wage, but education is cheap and excellent, health care is subsidized and the government gives subsidies to first-time buyers of government-built flats.
Last month, Singapore's first parliament session since the May 6 poll was dominated by the inequality theme.
PM Lee ruled out the introduction of old-age pensions, a minimum wage or European-style welfare.
"We have treated welfare as a dirty word. The opposition, I think the Workers' Party, has called for a 'permanent unconditional needs-based welfare system'. I think that is an even dirtier five words," he said in a speech on November 13.
But he acknowledged that since the Asian financial crisis in 1997, the income gap had widened, and said that his government plans to "tilt the balance in favor of the lower-income groups".
While Lee's ruling PAP is in no danger of losing its stranglehold on parliament -- where it has 82 out of 84 elected seats -- the growing income disparity has hurt its credibility.
In the May 6 poll, the Workers' Party scored its best result in years, with chairwoman Sylvia Lim winning 44 percent of the votes in a multi-seat ward. Lee lost 34 percent in his ward to a group of unknown candidates in their early thirties.
"They (the PAP) are concerned about the fallout if they don't do anything about the income gap," Lim, who entered parliament as a non-voting MP under a best-loser provision, told Reuters.

In parliament, Lee said he plans to improve healthcare and boost housing subsidies for low-income families. He added that he wants more "workfare" schemes, under which the state tops up low-income workers' pay.
On May 1 -- five days before the election -- the government paid out S$150 million to about 330,000 low-income workers, and Lee promised a similar package for next year. Details would be released in the 2007 budget on February 15.
Marie Antoinettes
Critics say that much of the outrage about the teenage blogger's comments is due to a perception that Singapore is ruled by a privileged elite that's out of touch with the people.
The road to a top job in the Singapore government or civil service leads through elite junior colleges and prestigious government scholarships for university studies abroad.
While access to these schools and scholarships is open to all and based on academic grades, critics say the children of the elite are well represented. Wee Shu Min attends a top school, Raffles Junior College, as did her father, an MP and a top executive at state-owned arms maker ST Engineering.

In a report about "elite envy", the Straits Times daily quoted official data showing that in the last five years, one in three students on government scholarships came from families with incomes of more than $6,500 a month, while such families make up just 13 percent of all Singapore households.

Students from households on incomes of less than $2,000 made up only 7 per cent of scholarship winners, the paper added.
Colin Goh, founder of satirical Web site TalkingCock.com, said that while the first generation of post-independence PAP leaders was seen as close to the people, this is no longer the case.
"The source for much invective in the Wee Shu Min case is that there is a real sense the PAP is composed of people in ivory towers; that they are a bunch of Marie Antoinettes," he said.

Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

15 comments:

Capt_Canuck said...

"Singapore pays no employment benefits, no pensions and has no legal minimum wage, but education is cheap and excellent, health care is subsidized and the government gives subsidies to first-time buyers of government-built flats"

This would not be because an educated person is a good worker means more money in higher business means more money to be taxed. A smart healthy worker is much better than a smart sick worker that is away from his desk on a regular basis cause of sickness. A smart healthy worker that has an HDB flat is more likely to be swayed by the ever present threat of "if you dont elect the PAP in your GRC then you might not get all those fantastic upgrades with the funds available".

However, a person that is given money for unemployment is a drain on society and therefore should not be encouraged. A person that has reached their usefulness in work really doesnt need to be given more money since they really are not contributing to society. I mean, when your TV becomes old and obsolete and breaks down, do you go out and buy a new TV and then keep the old one in a place of honour in the house to reward it for all it's years of service? nope, you replace and move on.

So, looks like the PAP knows where to put their money and how to control the public. Yes, they do deserve their million dollar salaries. After all, to control one person is easy, to control a 4 million people country is a little more difficult.

Whispers from the heart said...

We have 4 million sheep led by a group of 82 black sheep who happen to be deaf and blind.

Anonymous said...

Shut up and get a life, what's the use of all this ranting... seriously.

Anonymous said...

Typical 66.6 mentality enjoying his life of slavery, toiling 24/7, paying and paying for more hikes and getting lesser and lesser of what is due to them.

But alas, they are like Hello kitties, no mouth to talk about their misery even.

But they pride themselves as worker ants. I salute the singapore worker ant.

freemason said...

WE are the true ELITE of stinkapore E.veryday L.iving I.s T.oo E.xpensive. As for the MIW with their multi-million salaries and supposed talent, I cant wait to study up on Thermocatalyticracking's quantum mechanichism and flip them the finger when I emigrate to a good job.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lucky,

As a fellow lucky Singaporean, I believe that as a result of the sentiments expressed in the blogosphere, our dear leaders have had to announce measures like workfare schemes, improved health care and housing schemes and more recently, schemes to emphasize that Singaporeans are still valued over foreign talent.

How distracting all these tiresome issues must be when our dear leaders have better things to do! Things like achieving the grand vision of wooing foreign talent and investment and making Singapore the destination and playground of the rich and thus showing that our dear leaders deserve every single cent of their salaries.

No wonder they want to place restrictions on the use of the internet for political purposes in Singapore. Who can blame them?

Anonymous said...

tell them to show us the median income of households... havent change much in years... it shld be about S$3500- 3600...this means about half of the population live with less than $3500...so are we elitist??? you decide..anewae we are second richest in asia..so we shld be happy..hahaha (mocking or genuine happiness..you decide)

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Lucky, you forget to mention that while the elite have to peg their wages against 1st world world class private sector in order to retain them as talents, we have to peg peasant pay to China and India so that we can remain competitive for the common good.

This is also why we are so damn lucky to be able to live in an island full of intelligent and wise people that understand the important of sacrificing for the common good. Peasants from other developed countries are just too stupid and don’t understand to comprehend why they have to peg their wages to China and India while their leaders don’t, this is why they kept losing jobs and foreign investment would moved elsewhere, thus their growth is not as impressive as ours.

Without following the MIW model of success, these countries cannot get talented elite to become their leaders by not paying them good salary and also not able to promise these elite a risk free and more comfortable road to success.

Therefore to ensure that we always have a healthy supply of talented elite leaders for our future that are always willing to lead us, we cannot make the life of these elites too difficult or else they would all shy away from politic and choose to stay in private sectors. Thus one country 2 people is actually a blessing in disguise and by treating the elite better, we would be less worried of running out of talented elite to lead us.

Anonymous said...

Nobody gives a damn.Not them, not you, not me. It is in the breed. You will understand better when you have to deal with their kind in the system.You realised that everyone has a certain routine to cover their asses to remain employed.

The bigger their take home pay, the bigger the crap they will most likely to be and also more difficult to hold accountable for wrong done.

So I don't see hope for changes in the current system nor change of course with that kind on board to steer the ships.

So leave them to their own vices and the best protest is to stop paying for services and or product you don't believe in.

When the buying stops, the killing of innocent slives will have to end too!

Anonymous said...

one coconut two value system.

who r the real chickens and where they hiding huh?

puck puck puck puck

Anonymous said...

"There are no homeless, destitute or starving people in $ingapore. Poverty has been eradicated..."
- Kishore Mahbubani, $ingapore's former representative to the United Nations, Jan 15 2001. He is author of the book, Can Asians Think?

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