• The Convergence

(In)equality in Singapore

Commentary | Thomas Chew, Event Associate Editor



Inequality was making the headlines in 2018. The spark started with the highly sensationalised publication of “This is what Inequality Looks Like” by Teo You Yenn.


Teo’s anecdotal accounts gave a rare insight into the lives of the lower income group within our society.


As the year went on, various events and happenings continued to keep the discussion alive and relevant.


Some of these events included the well-received box office release of Crazy Rich Asians in August, juxtaposing Teo’s depiction with a satire narrative of the extravagance in Singapore.


Later in September, famous vlogger, NasDaily made a video on Singapore titled “The Almost Perfect Country” prompting a debate over how it seemingly glossed over the issues of poverty and inequality in Singapore.


Perhaps most controversial of all was a video released by CNA in October, Regardless of Class, in which host Mr Janil Puthucheary probes the class division within Singapore society.


In the same month, the Oxford Index which ranks countries according to their efforts in reducing inequality placed Singapore as 149th out of the 157 countries surveyed.


On its part, the government acknowledged that there is a growing class divide and has committed itself to address rising inequality in society as a key priority. Parliamentary debates and public consultations have focused on policies to tackle this growing concern and ways to better provide aid to those who need it.


Among the many discussions happening, a critical debate was between the proposal of a minimum wage scheme as opposed to the current measure of the progressive wage model. Equally heated was the responsibility of the ideal of meritocracy for its role in creating this inequality and the culture of apathy it has facilitated.


This year in 2019, the questions raised from these discussions in 2018 remain relevant.


What is inequality? What are we as a nation do about it? Is having a minimum wage scheme help in the Singapore context? Is meritocracy to be blamed for the inequality we see today?


What can we as individuals and a community do to help?


Come and join us for the upcoming Social Policies Forum as invited speakers and guests come together to review what has been happening and offer greater insights to helping us answer questions above!



About the author: Thomas is a 3rd year Political Science major, Japanese Studies minor from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He is currently on staff with The Convergence as Associate Editor (Events). Thomas' interests include watching anime and playing chess. He believes they are not mutually exclusive.

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