"This is one of the worst failures of the modern People’s Action Party, despite its ‘democratic socialism’ principles." - Seah Chiang Nee
"Sorry, Mr. Seah, the PAP has not failed, it is extremely successful. They have successfully abandoned their 'democratic socialism' to create the most intensely competitive capitalistic society on this planet for ordinary citizens. Everyone competes, except the PAP who gets rid of its own competition while subjecting its ordinary citizens to unbridled imported global competition" - Lucky Tan
During the 2006 General Elections the PAP promised to tackle the widening income gap. Like all PAP promises, it was faithfully kept. They found that the income gap between the PAP leaders and top earners of the private sector had widened and proceeded to close it with one of the largest pay hikes for ministers in history. Once again, the PAP has kept its promise.
When it comes to the income gap, few countries can beat Singapore. The PAP's achievement of a GINI index of 47.2 is higher than China and far exceed other affluent nations in Asia such as Korea(31), Japan(24) and Taiwan(32). How did the PAP achieve such high score for income inequality?
1. No minimum wages. See there is no maximum wage for our ministers so why should there be a minimum wage for our cleaners and laborers? The PAP has to be fair to everyone.
2. Imported Labor. The wages of coffee shop helpers have fallen to $600 per month. The reason is simple, there are mainland Chinese willing to work for that wage so why pay Singaporeans more. See the PAP is perpetually worried that if we don't import labor, jobs will go overseas. It is unclear how the jobs of coffeeshop helpers can actually be moved overseas. Businesses say that they are unable to get workers, that is why they want to hire imported labor - I wonder if they have tried paying more to get workers?
3. Welfare is a dirty word. Over the years, countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan have put in place a social safety net as Singapore cuts subsidies in all areas and raised the cost of transport, utilities, etc sharply. Instead of spending money on the citizens, the PAP has found better ways to spend tax payers' money like investing in trouble banks - losing a few billion here and few billion there. This is the PAP way of serving the people instead of spoiling them by alleviating their burden, they should be motivated to work harder and longer.
4. Structural Unemployment. The PAP govt has explained that it is due to ageism - employers are prejudice against older workers causing them to be unemployed and forced to take up lower paying jobs. Blame ageism....and not the hundreds of thousands of imported labor that changed the demographics of our workforce. In the past during good times, the labor market will become a bit tighter and employers are more willing to hire older workers, now with the floodgates opened for foreign workers, there is really no need to give a 40 year old a chance. The PAP is so righteous to blame the employers instead of their own policies, we can be sure they are sincere in their efforts to help older workers.
The success of the PAP govt leaves the other Asian govts in dust. Their singlemindedness in keeping the GDP growing at all cost and determination to strengthen the work ethics of the ordinary citizens have made this govt an extraordinary one. One that can afford to spend billions on regional telcos and trouble banks as the country's poor find it diffiicult to pay for electricity and a large number of the elderly clean the toilets of our marvelous shopping malls to make ends meet.-------------
The different faces of Singapore
INSIGHT DOWN SOUTH By SEAH CHIANG NEE
Link : http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/4/12/focus/20914452&sec=focus
The top 10% of the population are the rich, who live in wealthy districts, while the bottom 20% are the languishers who have difficulty coping with a high cost structured life. The third is the large middle class.
A SINGAPOREAN couple walked into a Lamborghini showroom and bought two units – his and hers – for US$650,000 (RM2.04mil) each.
“It’s amazing; young kids coming in and spending S$2mil (RM4.7mil),” the manager told a journalist. “I don’t think they were even 30 years old.”
Last year, 29 of these crème de la crème models were sold countrywide, beating Ferrari (26 cars).
In 2007 a total of 320 luxury cars including Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lotus, Aston Martin and Maserati, were sold to Singapore’s new rich.
As the nouveau riche basks in their newfound glory, more Singaporeans from the poorer quarters are approaching the government for food aid.
A growing number of homeless can be seen sleeping in void decks of buildings and, pressed by high living costs, more elderly citizens are working as toilet cleaners or collecting used cans for recycling.
Singapore remains largely a middle class society. The high number of shopping plazas attests to it. But the group may be decreasing as a result of globalisation and runaway prices.
The city-state of 4.7 million people has two – perhaps three – faces. On the top 10% are the rich, who live in wealthy districts, own yachts and blow S$10,000 (RM23,209) on a single meal.
At the bottom 20% of the population are the languishers who have difficulties coping with a high cost structured life in an international city. The third is the large middle class.
Take the case of Carol John, 27. She doesn’t own a bed, sleeps every night on thin mattresses with her three children. Hers is a one-bedroom flat that reeks of urine smell from the common corridor outside.
“I can’t save anything, it’s so difficult for me,” John, who is unemployed, told a reporter. She relies on her husband’s S$600 (RM1,392) monthly salary and S$100 (RM232) government handout.
She is luckier than others who are homeless – elderly and even entire families - who sleep at void decks or the beach and bathe at public restrooms.
In perspective, Singapore is the second richest country in Asia next to Japan, with a per capita GDP of US$48,900 (RM154,141).
Homeless cases are few, nowhere comparable in number to Osaka’s army of vagabonds or New York’s ‘bag ladies’.
In fact, nine out of 10 poor people in Singapore have their own home, and usually a phone and a refrigerator.
But in the local context, it is a potential minefield of unrest. The proportion of Singaporeans earning less than S$1,000 (RM2,320) a month rose to 18% last year, from 16% in 2002, according to central bank data.
The bad part is that life is often worse for the unemployed – compared to other countries - because Singapore has no safety net and no rural hinterland to cushion their suffering.
Unlike in Malaysia or Thailand, a jobless person who cannot cope with the global market has no countryside to retreat to so that he can live off the land.
The problem will get worse. In other words, the rich will get richer and the poor, poorer with the middle class remaining more or less stagnant.
The state’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, has worsened from 42.5 in 1998 to 47.2 in 2006, which makes it in league with the Philippines (46.1) and Guatemala (48.3), and worse than China (44.7) according to the World Bank.
Other wealthy Asian nations such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan have more European-style Ginis of 24.9, 31.6 and 32.6 respectively.
This is one of the worst failures of the modern People’s Action Party, despite its ‘democratic socialism’ principles.
It was with these that its first generation leaders were able to turn a poor squalid society into a middle class success story.
Economists attribute the major blame to globalisation, which benefits the skilled citizens and the rich but makes it hard for the unskilled, the aged and the sick.
Even the highly educated are not spared.
The use of new instruments like company restructuring, relocation or out-sourcing of workers – unheard of before – is widening the gap and creating more income inequality.
For example, while the proportion of lower income rises, those who earn S$8,000 (RM18,570) or more increased from 4.7% to 6%.
This rising inequality could eventually undermine the bedrock of society - the broad middle class.
Some economists say that the feared erosion of Japan’s middle class, first enunciated by Japanese strategist Kenichi Ohmae, may already be happening here.
His country was emerging into a “M-shape” class distribution, in which a very few middle class people may climb up the ladder into the upper class, while the others gradually sank to the lower classes.
These people suffered a deterioration in living standard, faced the threat of unemployment, or their average salary was dropping, he said.
Gradually, they can only live a way the lower classes live: e.g. take buses instead of driving their own car, cut their budget for meals instead of dining at better restaurants, spend less in consumer goods.
And, Kenichi said, all this might take place while the economy enjoyed remarkable growth and overall wages rose.
However, the wealth increase may concentrate in the pockets of the very few rich people in the society.
The masses cannot benefit from the growth, and their living standard goes into decline.
The Singapore government, which relies on the middle class vote to remain in power, has vowed to make economic gap-levelling its top priority – for survival, even if nothing else.