By Philip Ang
I refer to PAP MP Hri Kumar’s Forum letter “Growth the way to a better life” in response to Mr Donald Low’s article “Has ‘global city’ vision reached its end date?” in the Straits Times.
Instead of rebutting the article factually, Hri Kumar began by speculating that the article was calculated to create ill will, resentment, envy or spreading harmfully in a subtle way by stating “This is invidious”.
Kumar seems to be hard of hearing despite years of feedback from Singaporeans by insisting that “We pursue economic growth because we must have the financial resources to raise our families, build communities, defend ourselves and fund the policies needed to build a fair and just society”.
– Growth has been increasing and we are the highest GDP per capita country in Asia but more families now qualify for some form of grant from the government,
– the government has even extended housing grants to middle income Singaporeans and
– with the rich getting richer and low wage earners getting lower salaries every year, this is clearly not a fair and just society.
These are all signs of failure still not apparent to Kumar. It is due to the government pursuing growth at all costs.
Kumar then goes on to blame the “negative outcomes of a free market economy” and suggesting the necessity of “redistributive policies” as our panacea. Notice the PAP always absolves itself of blame for epic failings but trumpets to the world its ‘successful system’.
Equity needs growth and nobody in their right mind will deny this. But even when there has been phenomenal growth as reflected in our GDP (evident by gleaming buildings and Singapore having become a playground for the rich) but with equity still invisible, Kumar really needs to have his eyesight examined.
Growth at the expense of a huge segment of Singaporeans should not be considered growth. Kumar continues to echo PAP’s paternalistic advice about saving for the future despite the present monumental challenges faced by an increasing number of Singaporeans. Many have already been overwhelmed.
The PAP has been pursuing growth at all costs and this has cost Singaporeans dearly. Prioritising well being does not mean zero growth. Kumar should not reframe the issue into one where debt needs to be incurred to achieve Singaporeans’ well-being using PAP’s typical fearmongering tactic.
Despite the PAP’s growth-at-all-costs model having failed abysmally, Kumar continues to insist on ‘more of the same’ for Singaporeans i.e. strengthening policies in housing, education and health. Kumar clearly does not have any new idea to contribute but continues to parrot expired ones.
The PAP says it attracts the best and the brightest but the results have fallen short. Policies appears to be designed not to be inclusive such as employment policies which favour foreigners over locals when it comes and for many low wage Singaporeans, there is simply no light at the end of the tunnel.
Kumar should ask himself why many are fed up with the PAP despite perpetual and increasing assistance given. I hope he does not think Singaporeans are simply unreasonable and want to ‘make noise’ for the sake of being heard.
Hri Kumar says growth is the way to a better life. We have been growing phenomenally for the last few decades but where is the better life?