Minimum wage model can fix some problems

Many people in Singapore dismiss the Oxfam report as being manifestly one-sided (S'pore refutes Oxfam report on performance in tackling inequality; Oct 10).

There is, however, some merit to the point that a lack of a minimum wage model here has contributed to worsening income inequality despite all the progress we have made.

It is glaringly obvious that in First World Singapore, we still have workers struggling to make less than $1,000 per month.

It has been argued that legislating a minimum wage would drive up cost and affect our competitiveness, but the problem is that such arguments conveniently neglect the fact that this unrealistic pay packet has a direct impact on the reputation of the country as well as on the lives of people here.

We know for a fact that leaving such matters to market forces is unlikely to change the situation as employers only care about profit levels and bottom lines.

As the saying goes, "the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members".

Considering the cost of living, it is not unreasonable to expect a minimum amount to be guaranteed by law for the lower-income.

It should be emphasised here that we are not talking about handouts but, rather, a minimum income in return for work being done.

Seah Yam Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2018, with the headline 'Minimum wage model can fix some problems'. Print Edition | Subscribe