Declare war on poverty, not meritocracy

An elderly woman collecting cardboard boxes in Bedok.
An elderly woman collecting cardboard boxes in Bedok.PHOTO: ST FILE

It is not fair to conclude that meritocracy creates structural inequality that can pull society apart (Find ways to balance capitalistic growth and socialist policies, by Dr Teoh Ren Shang, June 5).

Arguably, a system where people are rewarded according to their abilities and contributions to society is better than one in which everyone - regardless of his ability - gets equal reward.

It is the principles of meritocracy that help governments to establish a fair reward system.

The purpose of meritocracy is to unite people rather than divide them, and to motivate them to give their best.

It is not the inequality driven by meritocracy but, rather, the inequality driven by poverty that can pull society apart.

Being rich is not a zero-sum game between the haves and have-nots.

There are very many kind-hearted Singaporeans who are conscious of the sufferings of the poor in the community.

The spirit of giving back to society is becoming pronounced among many successful Singaporeans.

The purpose of meritocracy is to unite people rather than divide them, and to motivate them to give their best.

It is not the inequality driven by meritocracy but, rather, the inequality driven by poverty that can pull society apart.

The Government, too, has invested many resources to break the poverty cycle.

Preventing inequality and family dysfunction driven by poverty from becoming entrenched is the joint social responsibility of the Government and well-to-do Singaporeans.

The war on poverty - rather than meritocracy - must continue until the misery it causes is removed.

S. Ratnakumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2019, with the headline 'Declare war on poverty, not meritocracy'. Print Edition | Subscribe