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Singapore's no utopia but still a good place to live in

Published on Jul 29, 2014 12:54 PM
Over the last half-century, Singaporeans have created a society that deftly balances material well-being, educational opportunity, merit and "the right to rise", personal safety and social security. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

In recent months, Singapore's government, for a variety of reasons, has expanded and extended its social welfare activities and made moves to redress problems arising from growing income inequality.

It has, for example, increased health subsidies for the elderly. Through the National Wages Council it has also recommended significant wage increases for the poorest-paid members of the labour force.

Such actions have surprised some critics, who have long believed that the Government was committed, first and foremost, to limiting its role and responsibilities in such realms to ensure that Singapore would not succumb to some of the problems associated with over-extended welfare states in the West.

Even before the recent moves, of course, Singapore was well known for having created a social order and, indeed, a society that ranked at or near the top of international league tables regarding material and social well-being, as measured by such criteria as income and living standards, health care, education, global competitiveness, transparency, lack of corruption and global competitiveness. In so doing, Singapore also created a social order and a society that fare pretty well even when employing moral calculus much favoured by Western liberals.

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