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Growing underclass in 'Lion City'

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  • lotus999's Avatar
    874 posts since Apr '05
    • let hope more can be done to stop this:

      Growing underclass in 'Lion City'
      Hamish MacDonald
      Al Jazeera
      05 May 07

      The city-state of Singapore is Asia's second-richest country after Japan - a high-tech global hub for banking, transport and business.

      Modern Singapore has never really had a problem with poverty, but globalisation and an aging population are changing that.

      A growing number of Singaporeans are now struggling to make ends meet - forcing radical changes to social and fiscal policy in a country where welfare remains a
      dirty word.

      Tan Ching Hoo is 62 years old. He used to work as a waiter, but now he collects cardboard for a living.

      For every kilogram, he earns the equivalent of 65 cents. "Whether I like or not, I have no choice," he says. "I have to earn money."

      His son pays the rent of $50 a month for a one room apartment.

      'Dirty word'

      But Tan is not alone. Eight per cent of Singapore's population is said to live in poverty and increasing numbers are joining that new class of urban poor.

      Sinapan Samydorai of the Think Centre, an independent political research group, says for years Singapore was built around a concept of affluence, and was simply not prepared for the idea of poverty.

      "Welfare was a dirty word in Singapore, even now. They don't encourage welfare."

      Globalisation created Singapore's economic miracle, reinforcing the self-styled image of the 'lion city'.

      But it also brought cheaper migrant labour, and that has made it hard for an ageing population to compete.

      While most countries have their disadvantaged, what makes Singapore different is that a country now known as one of the most affluent in Asia is developing what
      is being described as an underclass.

      Singapore's government has now acknowledged there is a problem and in this year's budget it introduced what it calls "bold" new welfare payments.

      Sylvia Lim, a member of parliament for the opposition Workers Party, says this represents something of a sea change in Singapore's policy towards welfare.

      "This is quite radical for Singapore," she says.

      "We have always lived under this system where you have to earn every cent that you get basically and now the government recognises that there are some people who
      just can't earn enough now."

      'Marginalised'

      Singapore's emerging underclass may be relatively small now, but its growth could threaten the political dynamic in what is effectively a one-party state.

      Chua Hak Bin, a Singapore-based economist with Citigroup, says this is the first time the government has acknowledged the issue.

      "There will be some social pressures, there will be a group that will be marginalised," he says.

      "I guess what is important though is that it is being recognised and the government is trying to do something to help those people."

      Back at his small one room flat Mr Tan has yet to sign up for any of the government's new assistance programs.

      The paperwork he says is just too complicated.

      Even in pragmatic Singapore old habits die hard, and welfare, both giving and receiving, might take some getting used to.

      Singapore's wealth gap:
      [Source]: UN, Singapore government

      GDP $28,077 per person in 2006
      Economy forecast to grow 7 per cent in 2007
      Between 2000 and 2005:
      - Monthly income of Singapore's poorest workers fell 4.3 per cent to $774 a month.
      - Monthly income of Singapore's richest workers grew 2.8 per cent to nearly 11,000 dollars a month

      http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/C6C7A87C-3327-4BFC-9239B1296659ACD4.htm

  • Rock^Star's Avatar
    11,142 posts since Jul '05
    • But even then, the gahmen are not doing very much for the poor. Welfare is still a very dirty word.

  • ndmmxiaomayi's Avatar
    54,017 posts since Aug '05
    • Originally posted by Rock^Star:
      But even then, the gahmen are not doing very much for the poor. Welfare is still a very dirty word.

      Welfare is still a dirty word, but the Government has been giving out more for the past few years.

  • charlize's Avatar
    31,782 posts since Mar '05
    • Salaries down.

      Cost of living rskyrocketing.

      The numbers will get bigger.

      No doubt about it. Laughing

  • LazerLordz's Avatar
    35,169 posts since Apr '03
  • alwaysdisturbed's Avatar
    6,787 posts since Apr '03
    • Originally posted by ndmmxiaomayi:
      Welfare is still a dirty word, but the Government has been giving out more for the past few years.

      give out and increase in other areas? whats the point?

  • reyes's Avatar
    3,473 posts since Feb '04
    • maybe someone should write to AZ to tell them that our minister are
      drawing million dollar salary as well.

      give out welfare? My Ass

  • oxford mushroom's Avatar
    4,918 posts since Mar '05
    • Originally posted by LazerLordz:
      Let's see if OM will paint Al-Jazeera a western liberal press. Laughing Laughing

      Why should I? Nobody has ever denied the fact that there is a widening wage gap. That is the effect of globalisation and structural unemployment. The nation has become more prosperous as a result of globalisation, but the impact on those who lose out in the competition is far more keenly felt.

      The solution is to enlarge the economic pie further, so that those who take the smallest slice of the pie will still end up with more. That is why the government has to raise GST to fund programmes like workfare.

      Unfortunately those who talk about the plight of the poor are also thye same who object to paying more in GST. Typical of hypocritical Singaporeans Mr. Green

  • SingaporeTyrannosaur's Avatar
    6,889 posts since Jan '03
    • Originally posted by oxford mushroom:

      Unfortunately those who talk about the plight of the poor are also [b]thye
      same who object to paying more in GST. Typical of hypocritical Singaporeans Mr. Green [/b]

      Same as how a certain person in the UK claims to know what it is like on the ground in Singapore? Mr. Green

  • walesa's Avatar
    2,114 posts since Apr '06
    • Originally posted by oxford mushroom:
      Why should I? Nobody has ever denied the fact that there is a widening wage gap. That is the effect of globalisation and structural unemployment. The nation has become more prosperous as a result of globalisation, but the impact on those who lose out in the competition is far more keenly felt.

      The solution is to enlarge the economic pie further, so that those who take the smallest slice of the pie will still end up with more. That is why the government has to raise GST to fund programmes like workfare.

      Unfortunately those who talk about the plight of the poor are also thye same who object to paying more in GST. Typical of hypocritical Singaporeans Mr. Green

      Aren't you equally flippant and hypocritical? So what are you for - a protectionist economy or a free market economy?

      Name me another economy on the planet that levies a 7% GST (or VAT, for that matter) which dishes out lesser protection (be it in terms of working hours or minimum wage) and welfare to those marginalised by globalisation...

  • reyes's Avatar
    3,473 posts since Feb '04
    • Unfortunately those who talk about the plight of the poor are also thye same who object to paying more in GST. Typical of hypocritical Singaporeans

      most ppl dont object to raise GST to help the poor.
      but we object strongly to govt who raise GST to increase their pay!.
      guess the person who are hypocritical is non other than yourself.

  • Fingolfin_Noldor's Avatar
    1,775 posts since Dec '06
    • Originally posted by SingaporeTyrannosaur:
      Same as how a certain person in the UK claims to know what it is like on the ground in Singapore? Mr. Green

      There's an interesting article on how welfare is dished out in Singapore in the ST. Perhaps this twit would at least have some pretense of reading it.

      Edited by Fingolfin_Noldor 07 May `07, 12:36PM
  • sgdiehard's Avatar
    5,269 posts since Jul '04
    • Originally posted by ndmmxiaomayi:
      Welfare is still a dirty word, but the Government has been giving out more for the past few years.

      The government were giving out leftover before election, sweetener and candy to arrest declining publicity, not to tackle the problem of those unfortunate affected by globalizing. Crying or Very sad

  • alwaysdisturbed's Avatar
    6,787 posts since Apr '03
    • Originally posted by reyes:
      [b]Unfortunately those who talk about the plight of the poor are also thye same who object to paying more in GST. Typical of hypocritical Singaporeans

      most ppl dont object to raise GST to help the poor.
      but we object strongly to govt who raise GST to increase their pay!.
      guess the person who are hypocritical is non other than yourself.
      [/b]

      agree!

      just like how much of every dollar donated during charity shows actually benefit the unfortunates.

  • ` ~ `
    Atobe's Avatar
    8,715 posts since Oct '02
    • Originally posted by Fingolfin_Noldor:

      Posted by SingaporeTyrannosaur:

      Same as how a certain person in the UK claims to know what it is like on the ground in Singapore? Mr. Green

      ========================================================================

      There's an interesting article on how welfare is dished out in Singapore. Perhaps this twit would at least have some pretense of reading it.

      We may not be able to prevent a General Practitioner in Medicine from being a GP in Political-Social Science, the least we expect from such a Professional is some honest integrity.

      Unfortunately, for all the bluster displayed, it is nothing but a load of vaporized hot air that appear with a bang and unable to stand to anything.

      We maybe able to give some leeway to his inability to accurately gauge the Singapore ground, but the least we expect is for him to quote with some accuracy of UK events that he throw up to show up the failings in Singapore.

      So much for his nonsense of Shanghai Automotive declining to takeover Rover at Longbridge due to the supposed 'black hole' of a huge pension fund for the older workers.

      Was he purposefully dishonest by leaving out a BBC report that even as Shanghai Automotive decline to takeover Rover, another PRC company known as "NANJING AUTOMOBILE won the entire bidding exercise to takeover Rover " - was only too happy with the takeover ?

      So much for his ability in anything except as an expert in dishonest posturing in discussing any issues.


      Edited by Atobe 07 May `07, 10:49AM
  • YI's Avatar
    1,355 posts since Feb '00
    • Originally posted by ndmmxiaomayi:
      Welfare is still a dirty word, but the Government has been giving out more for the past few years.

      i call those gifts a mere trade-off since they are meant to appease the mass such that they will have little problem introducing unpopular policy. the next election year should be a backfire year for them. Laughing

  • LazerLordz's Avatar
    35,169 posts since Apr '03
  • pearlie27's Avatar
    1,142 posts since Nov '04
    • Actually the govt economic policies are contributory to this unfortunate development. A NUS professor once said ’.....is creating significant inequalities to relative poverty….’

  • Gazelle's Avatar
    6,395 posts since Jul '04
    • Not sure if you are aware the the writer is using statistic from 2000 to 2005 to make his report. Since the australian writer is living in KL and so close to Singapore, I would have expect him to know that 2000 to 2005 is not a good indication of our present economy, unemployment and income distribution because that is a period where we are going through a major recession caused by globalization (particularly china), SARS and Sep11.

      I think the writer is just giving the sg government the opportunity to proof to the world why they are worth the millions.

      Edited by Gazelle 07 May `07, 4:10PM
  • wildlife123's Avatar
    50 posts since Mar '06
  • ndmmxiaomayi's Avatar
    54,017 posts since Aug '05
    • Originally posted by YI:
      i call those gifts a mere trade-off since they are meant to appease the mass such that they will have little problem introducing unpopular policy. the next election year should be a backfire year for them. Laughing

      What to do? When there's give, there's take. Laughing

      This world is as real as it gets. Laughing

  • walesa's Avatar
    2,114 posts since Apr '06
    • Originally posted by reyes:
      most ppl dont object to raise GST to help the poor.
      but we object strongly to govt who raise GST to increase their pay!.
      guess the person who are hypocritical is non other than yourself.

      Let's all ignore what the criminals do with their loot for the time being and try putting this picture in a simple and understandable concept to the average Joe.

      Without minimum wage to safeguard the interests of the poorest in the working class, what you have is basically a group of people marginalised by globalisation who is left without any safeguards/protection. Throw in the fact prices are increased for all goods and services the same group are subjected to for the GST increase, it isn't rocket science to figure this lot is actually experiencing real wage depreciation (and I'm working on the assumption inflation is non-existent), is it?

  • Dr Who's Avatar
    1,410 posts since Aug '04
  • Meat Pao's Avatar
    1,278 posts since Nov '06
    • no.......i mean ok....ya economic policy is one thing....it is one aspect...it can create salary gap and so on.....immigration also can push down wages...make some segment unemployed....ok......

      but something else is creating this so called poverty or gap....

      I think its related with other issues....such as.....

      low birth-rate........

      high walking speed (according to 1 survey)......

      low seks frequency (according to many surveys)....

      I think......it is a social issue...

      Singapore has been created so much as an economic producing entity....that the people become coldhearted and materialistic.......

      Many people who are poor......because no family wants to help them.....or they dont have family, coz no kids........or 1 or 2 kids who dont really want to help out...relatives also dont keep in touch......

      I think.....poor people....exist...because they are neglected or ignored by other selfish people around them....their families....friends......

      ya.....i really think so.......it is something like 'kiasu'......what is 'kiasu'....basically its a selfish thinking.....but 'kiasu' is a Singaporean culture...so what does that mean.....

      Many Singaporeans are coldhearted and materialistic......I think its a social issue......not really the people's fault also....I think its the environment....

      Meat Pao.

  • Slipshade's Avatar
    1,430 posts since Feb '07
    • Who cares about the pathetic poor when the rich can give alot more! How much better would it be if those poor would just disappear under the carpet.

      The rich and the elite are all we need. If you are none of those, we don't care if you are here or not. We don't care if you are dead or alive. We don't care how hard it is for you to scrap past each month. It's your own business, and personal failure if you are where you are right now. Rolling Eyes

      The above, is the message and impression I'm getting from the government. Rolling Eyes

      Edited by Slipshade 08 May `07, 11:19PM
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