Key policy considerations in an affluent society
AS THE political landscape in Singapore changes, I ask the Government, opposition parties and citizens to keep these points in mind when proposing and countering policies.
First, public funds should go to the needy first.
A rise in living cost hits everyone hard, whether he has an income of $1,000 or $10,000. People will seek help as their previously comfortable lifestyles are now beyond their reach.
The Government can, of course, offer a subsidy to all. But a more sensible approach would be to focus on helping the low-income group.
Second, we need to grow our reserves for future generations.
Singapore now has what I call a "rich government syndrome". The generations before us have accumulated sizeable reserves, causing us to increasingly question the need to put up with any form of hardship, given such a gold mine.
However, it is hard to predict the future. Perhaps the geopolitical landscape could change for the worse, or global warning becomes more severe and there is more competition for limited food.
Future generations will need all the resources they can get. The current generation therefore cannot draw from the reserves to service its own comfort.
Third, sound social principles must not be abandoned.
More cars mean more pollution, congestion, roads and carparks; land meant for other purposes is taken away.
Society must hence set a limit on those who get to drive. In return for this privilege, drivers pay certificate of entitlement premiums, which are used to fund improvements in public transport.
This principle should apply whenever scarce resources need to be distributed.
Tey Chee Meng