How unequal is S'pore society if all have access to good, basic facilities?

It was baffling to read the report by developmental charity Oxfam, which ranked Singapore among the worst in tackling inequality (Oxfam, DFI urge countries to do more to tackle inequality; Oct 9).

Prior to Singapore's independence in 1965, many of the people here lived in slums. Unemployment and homelessness were rife, and crimes of all kinds were common.

Today, public housing has replaced the slums, and people live in homes with running water, electricity and modern sanitation.

Massive programmes have been implemented to train people and create jobs, which have helped people sustain their new lifestyles.

All Singaporeans, whether rich or poor, can simply walk or take the public transport to cinemas and shops, or to enjoy the finest food in public foodcourts. All pay the same prices and walk through the same entrances and exits.

Women can walk on the streets without fear, even late at night. Women also enjoy equal opportunities to men.

So if Singaporeans have access to all these facilities regardless of their social status, where then is the inequality here?

If one were to argue that equality means that all must be able to have access to education, food, transportation, housing and medical care, then I would say that Singapore is one of the most equal countries in the world.

Ong Soon Leong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2018, with the headline 'How unequal is S'pore society if all have access to good, basic facilities?'. Print Edition | Subscribe