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Why does Minister Desmond Lee attack the Oxfam survey when the picture in his own backyard is not so pretty?

by Simon Lim

I take a strong issue with what Desmond Lee said in response to the recent Oxfam survey findings on inequity worldwide and Singapore's ranking in it

To begin, Oxfam is a credible non-governmental organisation established since 1942 whose work governments and corporations look up to and take notice of. Otherwise, Minister Desmond Lee wouldn't have bothered to even respond to its findings on inequality and Singapore's very poor ranking in it.

If Desmond Lee is really keen to see the realities about his so-called "real outcomes", I would be more than happy to show him some "real outcome" without any grassroots involvements. Inequality cuts through every aspect of our lives and goes to the very core of our beings and make worse by government's own hypocrisy and ill-thought through policies.

To me, the main culprit of inequality in our society today is class segregation. The biggest culprit dividing our society today is class segregation. If you are still not convinced, try this little experiment. If you were living in a condominium housing or a 5 room HDB flat, count how many of your friends live in HDB rental flats and vice versa? The answer is there.

It branches into images of our elderly citizens scavenging for empty drink cans at public bins, stacking their priceless cardboard higher and higher and waiting for the karung guni man to come by and buy from them. It involves them selling 3 packets of tissue paper for $1 at public places and clearing and cleaning tables at foodcourts and coffee-shops in their frail bodies and bent spines etc.

On public housing, phrase like Asset Enhancement seems to have died a natural death or maybe even becomes toxic. PAP government's policy of allowing too much of our citizens' retirement savings going into public housing loan repayments have resulted in our citizens overpaying for expensive and depreciating public flat and depleting their retirement savings as a consequence.

On healthcare cost, our locals have a very first-hand experience way of describing it (i.e. one can die but cannot afford to fall ill in Singapore). It is only something that Singaporeans can relate to and empathise with all too well and definitely something not our citizens or government should be proud of. Need I say more?

Those are the root causes of inequality in our society and I have said to myself that I reject and I refuse to let the Lee Hsien Loong government smoke me anymore with their clever and cunning rhetoric. We should not be afraid to think harder for yourself and the better country that we together can aspire and achieve.

To be able to solve any problems effectively, the first thing that we must do is to acknowledge and accept that we have the problems and if we start off by denying them, then we will be destined to fail.

To put it bluntly, the PAP government led by Lee Hsien Loong has been barking up the wrong tree and in the process, wasted much time and precious resources in Singapore, tackling inequality.

Shouldn't we need to pause and do some hard and honest soul searching or we still insist that the PAP adminstration has done nothing wrong and should continue with more of the same?