Let's talk about inequality with statistics, evidence

The report on inequality by Associate Professor Teo You Yenn seems to paint a bleak picture and portray a sense of despondency over the inequality situation in Singapore (Let's talk about meeting needs, not just equality of opportunity; May 30).

Yet, no compelling and verifiable evidence has been provided to substantiate the extensiveness and severity of the situation.

A more convincing approach would be to provide relevant statistics and measurable evidence to support the claims.

Words such as "decent employment", "adequate income" and "dignified life" are relative as they are subject to different interpretations and expectations.

Needs and fulfilment should also be quantifiable and measured to provide an unquestionable and true representation of the situation.

Inequality in any society will always exist. We have to accept that it is impossible to bridge every foreseeable gap.

A good way to assess the inequality situation accurately is to determine which strata of society to assess, define their needs in clear quantifiable values and measure the outcomes with verifiable criteria. In addition, it is also useful to establish the reasons why they are unable to move upwards.

The criticism on meritocracy is perhaps somewhat misplaced because meritocracy does in fact provide real pathways or opportunities to bridge the inequality gap for people in the lower strata of society.

Also, it is inaccurate to associate meritocracy with equal opportunities. The same opportunities are available for every one and yet they are unequal because no one is born equal in the first place.

Tony Lim Thiam Poh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2018, with the headline 'Let's talk about inequality with statistics, evidence'. Print Edition | Subscribe