by Augustine Low
There is a segment of Singaporeans who have flown nothing but First Class and Business Class. In fact, Singapore Airlines is now touting World Class for an elevated experience.
Meanwhile, ordinary Singaporean face everyday struggles and they count themselves lucky if they can get to fly Economy Class once in a while. First Class is so out of their reach, they don’t even dare to dream of it.
So when Pritam Singh of the Workers’ Party warned in Parliament yesterday of the potential emergence of “two Singapores,” he was a little bit off the mark. It’s already a reality, not a possibility – and has been for some time now.
Do First Class Singaporeans (and we have to put the world’s highest-paid politicians in that category) know the pain and struggles of Economy Class Singaporeans?
When they say that the Goods & Service Tax (GST) increase is for the poor, they add insult to injury. Whose pocket is affected by the price increase of hawker meals? When grocery bills for a family go up by $50 a week, who feels the pain?
Those in First Class do not even know which are the best days to do supermarket shopping, the days when paltry discounts are given. It doesn’t matter one bit to them.
When school bus fares see a hefty increase, First Class do not experience what Economy Class experience – one is chauffeur-driven, the other has to fork out the higher fares no matter what.
Is it any wonder that they insist that HDB flats are affordable? Economy Class naturally find that $500,000 for a first home is out of reach, but First Class can afford to fork out a few times that to buy a first home for each of their kids.
When the opposition calls for a minimum wage to be set and a poverty line to be drawn, the answer is always an emphatic no. The needs of Economy Class are not the needs of First Class, they are not given priority.
Instead, they will tell workers to upskill and reskill or be left behind. Strange that we don’t see our politicians walk the talk – if they upskill and reskill, they might have better solutions to problems.
When Goh Chok Tong mentioned that if you pay less than $500,000 a year, you only get “mediocre” people, he brought home the point that First Class is so far removed from Economy Class in this country.
Someone said it best for all of us when he posted this response to Goh Chok Tong putting up photos of his leisure activities on Facebook: “Enjoy Swiss standard of retirement for himself. Never mind the rest of Singapore.”