The Straits Times
Published on Nov 08, 2012

Set up committee to study income inequality


IT IS commendable that a study, conducted over two years, concluded that Singapore would "forgo the nuclear option for now" ("Citizens' safety key factor in S'pore N-power study"; Oct 31).

A Ministry of Trade and Industry spokesman was quoted as having said that it was a "deliberate and extensive" two-year process that involved government agencies, external consultants and expert advisers.

It would be good if a committee could be set up to study income inequality in Singapore, which has been a key subject of discussions in Our Singapore Conversation and other fora.

Economist Lim Chong Yah, in two speeches which have been reported in the press, has drawn attention to this issue and made proposals.

Earlier, suggestions were made that a minimum-wage scheme be instituted so that workers at the lower end of the scale are provided with decent and assured wages.

Regrettably, there has been little reaction to Professor Lim's views.

As for the minimum-wage scheme, the answers given were that it would be damaging to the economy or lead to a loss of jobs.

While the nuclear power issue is something that can be left to a future generation to resolve, the ramifications of income inequality are a "clear and present danger", with social consequences.

The latter issue therefore requires as much, if not more, attention as the former, and public participation.

In doing so, we will be keeping in mind the declarations in our National Pledge, which enjoins all citizens to "build a democratic society, based on justice and equality so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation".

K. Kesavapany

The writer is the non-resident Ambassador to Jordan and writes in his personal capacity.