Be mindful of differences between Singapore and Scandinavian countries

I agree that any national policy should reflect the "reality of the situation" ("Role models for state-sponsored retirement exist" by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi; Oct 3).

However, one has to be careful that such a "reality" is premised on evidence-based findings and not on assertions.

Mr Chan quoted the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 to support the argument that Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark can be used as models for increasing welfare benefits.

While we can learn from Scandinavian countries, we must be mindful that we have many fundamental, locational and strategic differences from them.

Therefore, it is hard to adopt some of their policies and way of life.

In my previous letter ("Extend helping hand, not handouts, to retirees"; Sept19), I did not suggest that the authorities should not help those who are genuinely deserving, including those who have fallen "through the cracks".

To help people who cannot work and have no means to fend for themselves, the authorities have to plan ahead on how to lower expenses, increase taxes, and generate other sources of revenue.

Meanwhile, the rest of the people should continue to strengthen their spirit of self-reliance.

The authorities should provide the means for these people to help themselves and develop the necessary pathways and incentives for upgrading purposes.

Their personal efforts and achievements can help them enjoy a greater sense of self-esteem and dignity and contribute to society.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)