I refer to ST article “Real solutions needed to deal with income inequality, says PM Lee at Singapore Summit”.
I find it quite amusing for the PM to be lecturing others on this issue when Singapore has one of the highest income gap.
Since a decade ago, our income gap has hardly changed. (excluding government transfers)
Including government transfers and taxes, the income gap may seem to have improved. However, some government smart alec ‘artistic talent’ seems to have recalculated the figures and ‘gradually improved’ the reading from 2008 to 2010 which further improved in 2013.
Source: The Heart Truths
PM Lee says “income inequality has become a fashionable topic” and the way to deal with the income gap issue is “through concrete action”. What concrete action? By ‘improving’ the data and redrawing the chart to deal with income inequality? Income inequality certainly hasn’t become a “fashionable topic” but has all the while been a serious issue for many countries. Perhaps PAP ministers have been treating this as such and that’s the reason why this issue will NEVER be resolved.
Take for example newbie minister, Lawrence Wong, who had tried to take SMU’s undergrads for a ride in March by telling them our GINI index had “come down sharply” in 2013. Perhaps there were billion$ in government transfers which was not published? From Roy’s chart above, “sharply” was actually ‘created’ by the government. Wong also said the Gini index has “stabilised”. From the chart above, he clearly meant the index has not improved much but has remained as high as a decade ago.
PM Lee’s suggestion is to “equip people with skills that are in demand by the economy, and to redistribute wealth so that everyone can have “chips to play with”. NTUC has been equipping people with skills but real wages have either gone down or stagnated.
On further elaboration, what PM Lee means by redistributing wealth is:
– “making sure that people have access to housing” (he does not mention our resale public housing is out of reach for young couples, the PAP has actually included land cost (when it shouldn’t) in new flats to take some ‘chips’ from citizens by making them more expensive)
– ”a good education” (for foreigners? because the PAP has been providing free education with government grants, the proportion of locals getting grants is lower, local’s grant/subsidy only a fraction of foreigner’s)
– “high quality healthcare” (PAP has privatised public healthcare costs so only the rich can have “high quality”, sleeping along hospital corridors while paying normal hospital rates is “high quality” to the PAP)
The PAP has actually been profiting from citizens in housing, healthcare and anything else that it could earn more ‘loose change’, it would. Profiting from citizens is in PAP’s DNA and has always been its top priority.
Recall Josephine Teo, SMOS for Transport, recently told Parliament that Singapore will match Malaysia’s causeway toll hikes? Although this sort of stupidity will set off a vicious circle of price increases which will hurt Singaporeans, PAP is least bothered.
But Josephine has been discharging her responsibility with blind obedience to the ‘big boss’, Lee Kuan Yew, who once asked: “What’s wrong with collecting more money?”
No, the PAP has never given citizens “chips to play with” but has all the while been taking away our chips. After taking our chips, it will offer us smaller chips called government grants. One example – HDB likely to profit $200,000 from the sale of a new 5-room flat, subsequently offers only a fraction of its profit as subsidy.
Our wealth, hard-earned CPF savings, has been forcibly taken away by the PAP. Reverse wealth redistribution? It seems ordinary Singaporeans are giving PAP our “chips to play with” in global (shares) casinos.
If PM Lee or any PAP minister had any idea or political will to resolve a chronic issue, our Gini index would not have been so high till today.
The PAP is actually the culprit causing the unacceptable income gap by demanding citizens pay PAP politicians exorbitant salaries. Example: a Division 4 officer in the civil service earns a monthly wage of between $1270 and $1535, a wage which qualifies him for state assistance. Taking an average of $1400, the annual wage of a Div 4 officer is $19,600 (assuming a 2-month bonus). With a reduced salary of $2,200,000, PM Lee’s pay still earns 112 times more than a Div 4 officer. The government has clearly set the tone for the Gini index to remain high.
In short, the PAP is the cause of our high Gini index. Lee Kuan Yew has already made it very clear – nothing wrong with making more money from citizens. PAP’s pro-business policy increases disproportionately the wealth of the rich. At the same time, its ‘self-reliant’ policy cripples citizens, some on the verge of having no assets, before offering token state assistance. PAP profits from public housing, healthcare, transportation, etc.
It is misleading to say citizens are given “chips to play with”. In fact, citizens have been forced to give PAP our chips to play with for decades.