“Democracy would see poorer people dominate Hong Kong vote.” – Hong Kong Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying
What if the PAP had said what Hong Kong’s Chief Executive said?
A few weeks ago, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong said that poor people would dominate the Hong Kong polls if the government yielded to the demands of the protesters.
Let us take a step back and analyse what this really means, and why a person in the decision-making seat of a country would actually utter such words.
What economic progress is for
I wonder what the impact would have been if Singaporeans had heard anyone from the PAP utter such words publicly. I would like to think that we should have enough sense to vote them out come the next General Elections.
If the majority of the citizens were poor and only the foreigners and a selected few were rich, it is common sense that the poor would have voted the current government regime out, and to replace them with someone whom they feel would actually work for the citizens.
Ultimately, what is the purpose of economic progress for a country if its citizens do not enjoy it? This begs the next question; what is Hong Kong’s economic progress for if their citizens are not the main benefactors? And there emerges one answer–neither you, nor me, nor China would like to utter.
Is Singapore the next Hong Kong?
Having established that the majority of our people are not “poor” simply because the government has not been toppled (as what Hong Kong’s Chief Executive have suggested would happen), we think Singaporeans are lucky to be in control of our country. You can argue we do not have any say in policies being implemented by the government, but at least we have a say, collectively, on who we want deciding on these policies that we have no control over.
Our politicians are Singaporeans too; they are not pro (insert any other country). I like to think that they will fight to the bitter end before Singapore is pried from their cold hard fingers, which by the way is also their job. While I may not be in love with some of what we have achieved over the last 10 years, I know the government’s directions were similar to mine – to better the country and enrich the people living in it.
But just what have we achieved for our citizens? More importantly, is it enough?
How much have we actually grown?
This is what we found.
Over the last 10 years, co-incidentally that’s also how long Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been in power, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in Singapore has increased at an annual average of 6.3%. This sounds brilliant, at least on the surface.
However, between 2001 and 2007, income inequality actually worsened. Real median income of the lowest 10% declined by close to 10%, Growth of other income groups remained flat, but the highest enjoyed an average of 18.6% average wage growth.
What this means is that the rich has become richer and their wealth have grown the quickest. They have helped our country become rich through their taxes and spending. I am not sure if that’s necessarily a good or bad thing. You should decide on it for yourself.
Did the last 10 years benefit all Singaporeans even though we collectively built or accepted the MBS & IR, saw our asset prices balloon and built a whole other financial district during the time? I’m not so sure.
What I am sure of however is that we are a democracy. It is in our power if we do not like the direction of where our country is headed.
Picture via GovHK.
This article was first published on Dollars and Sense, a website that aims to provide interesting, bite-sized financial articles which is relevant to the average Singaporean.