Don't treat inequality as a 'phenomenon'

It is heartening to see our nation taking an interest in the topic of inequality - this shows that we are embracing the challenge of acting on a difficult situation and being open to new solutions (To tackle inequality, policy mindsets must change; May 11).

Nationwide changes in "policy mindset" can have the most direct and immediate effect on people.

Nonetheless, this should go hand in hand with a more active citizenry.

The top-down governmental approach can serve to ameliorate the immediate financial woes of our fellow people.

However, as assistant professor Ng Kok Hoe mentioned, state support "overlooks systemic challenges that impinge in individual life chances".

Moreover, it is not just the financial aspects that these people are affected by.

Inequality is a social problem and, as much as we want to treat it as a phenomenon that has to be solved as quickly as possible, we need to take it slow.

The help provided by financial support schemes relieves people's monetary stress.

However, with the knowledge of such schemes and their tangible benefits, some of us turn away from the root cause of the problem.

Support from the Government, coupled with many other factors, might lead us to think inequality is the Government's problem to solve and we should mind our own business.

We need to encourage people, especially students, to reach out, understand, question and reflect upon what some of their peers are facing, rather than be passive about this issue.

In the school setting, dialogues are being conducted to discuss inequality in Singapore as one of the challenges we face.

I acknowledge the effort to increase conversation on this issue but dialogues separate some of us from the reality of the situation, once again treating it as a "phenomenon".

A more sustainable way is to breed a culture of caring and paying attention to one another.

Valerie Chua Yan Tong (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2018, with the headline 'Don't treat inequality as a 'phenomenon''. Print Edition | Subscribe