Important for Government to keep the trust with people

I agree with Dr Patrick Liew Siow Gian that the Brexit campaign played to people's fears ("Brexit's negative campaign holds lesson for Singapore"; yesterday).

This was true of both Remain and Leave camps.

However, it is important to understand why many undecided voters eventually voted to leave.

This was an extremely unhappy electorate, which had been promised much by the government but received little.

For ordinary British people, the key issues were things such as not sharing in the economic recovery since 2009 and the declining state of social services, which have sparked rising inequality.

Income taxes were cut for the rich and welfare was cut for the poor, promoting a great sense of unfairness among ordinary Britons, who eventually voted for Britain to leave the European Union because they felt there was only going to be more of the same unfairness, should they vote to remain.

This warning holds true for Singapore, which must tame the level of economic and societal inequality so that the Government continues to win the trust of the people.

Property prices have continued to fall slowly from their peaks, but continue to be highly unaffordable compared with historic averages. The Government must continue to resist calls from developers to ease property cooling measures.

On the economic front, the Government has rolled out the Progressive Wage Model to help low-wage earners get a much-needed pay rise, and Workfare to supplement their income.

The Government has also continued to maintain foreign worker levies to protect lower-income citizen workers.

These are crucial steps in the right direction, and we cannot change course just because our gross domestic product is facing slower growth.

A healthy relationship of trust between the people and the Government is essential.

This must go both ways, with the Government working to protect the interests of everyone in society, and the population helping the Government to achieve our common goal of developing a more united Singapore.

Lionel Loi Zhi Rui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2016, with the headline 'Important for Government to keep the trust with people'. Print Edition | Subscribe