SINGAPORE: Mr Pritam Singh, the secretary-general of The Workers’ Party and the Leader of the Opposition, warned against “two Singapores being created” with society split between the wealthy and the “rest of Singapore.”
In order to prevent such a split, significant work needs to be done, he added.
Mr Singh noted that on the ground, certain social trends have emerged. In addition to a population that is ageing quickly, there is also the belief that social mobility for today’s youth is not as accessible as it has been for older generations.
Additionally, there’s the perspective that “meritocracy has developed a perverse edge,” he said, “allowing the well-off to move ahead much faster than the broad middle class.”
He underlined the need to manage these forces properly, adding that it is critical for Governments to “make the fight against inequality a central policy agenda, and to decisively intervene to lift those at the bottom.”
Otherwise, the possibility of “two Singapores” may become a reality.
He then began to describe each segment.
“One Singapore is connected to the world as a hub economy. It is where high salaries and opportunities abound, and where locals, and crucially, many foreigners too, power diverse nodes of the economy.
This Singapore gives meaning to the promise and lure of Singapore and how we remain relevant to world. It is a Singapore that always strives to be at the cutting edge of global developments.”
But the other Singapore is “where the majority of Singaporeans live,” he cautioned.
“It is one where there are perceptions of slowing social mobility, connected to the reality of high housing prices. Today, the prospect of upgrading to a condominium or a landed property, unlike in decades past, is not as realistic for HDB homeowners.”
And for this segment of society, buying a car is “an out-of-reach luxury unlike in many other countries.”
He added, “I have also heard it summarized this way. In the past, you may not have done well in school, but if you were prepared to slog and save, you could become rich and successful.
Today, the view is that once you have not succeeded academically, even if you slog for years, success, let alone wealth, may not follow.”
He also said that the interventions of the Workers’ Party for the Budget debate would be in this spirit: envisioning how best society can position itself for an unpredictable and potentially far more disruptive future.
Mr Singh’s speech, where he also discussed jobs, the raising of the CPF income ceiling, and increased grants for buyers of HDB resale flats, may be viewed in full here.
Pritam Singh: Govt should endeavour to make HDB BTO flats more affordable & accessible than they currently are
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