by Augustine Low
Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said on Friday (24 Feb) that Singaporeans pay much less in taxes compared to citizens elsewhere. He used estimates for advanced economies like the United States, United Kingdom and Finland for the comparison.
It’s what they excel in – compare and contrast to show that citizens and country are better off. Things like passport, airport, container port – sure, they are most eager to compare!
However, for every comparison they make, we can offer a few they would rather run away from.
Here are three to start with: cost of living, cost of car ownership, cost of home ownership.
Have they ever made comparisons for them? No, because the truth is inconvenient. Singapore consistently ranks high at the top for all three, for reasons that we know of.
They also like to flaunt meritocracy. But meritocracy is up to them to define and cannot be measured. What can be measured, though, is cronyism.
The crony-capitalism index is published by British newspaper The Economist.
It calculates whether the livelihoods of people from capitalist economies are “easily affected by crony capitalism.”
For this, Singapore ranks in the top three or four of countries with the greatest cronyism.
What about press freedom? The latest world press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders puts Singapore in 139th place out of 180 countries, losing out to countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Any sound, any word, any comparison on press freedom and cronyism? The truth is inconvenient.
On Friday, DPM Wong told the Workers’ Party that there was “no shame” in admitting it was wrong, during the sparring on the WP’s 2019 housing paper.
“No shame” is a loaded thing to say, it can turn out to be the pot calling the kettle black.
We ought to remind him that there’s “no shame” in being ranked the world’s highest-paid politicians. And yet this is the one global ranking they avoid like the plague, one they would never take up for comparison.
We await the day DPM Wong stands up proudly in Parliament to educate and enlighten Singaporeans by doing a comparison of salaries of political leaders around the world. “No shame” if they are worth every cent.