Thursday, 23 April 2015

[Straits Times] Shift mentality to suit changing times

SINGAPORE'S success in the past 50 years is attributable to one crucial quality - incorruptibility ("How new leaders can sustain S'pore's success"; April 6).
The hard work and sacrifice of Singaporeans, and their trust in their strong and efficient government, helped build a cohesive and harmonious multiracial society.
We were once a poor country, and our government duly behaved like a poor man.
Since then, however, our gross domestic product per capita has grown and ranks among the world's highest, through economic restructuring and the willingness of Singaporeans to accept trade-offs in their lifestyles.
But despite our wealth, the Government continues to behave like a thrifty paymaster.
We inhabit an economic landscape filled with consumption, heavy levies on foreign labour and taxation on car ownership.
We are charged high fees for essential social services like healthcare, amenities and public transport. Small and medium-sized enterprises have to pit themselves against multinational corporations and government-linked corporations.
Many Singaporeans remain trapped in the low-income and sandwiched groups, and struggle with inflation and money issues, even in their retirement.
The Government should be pragmatic in addressing the fundamental causes of inequality in business, wealth distribution and social welfare delivery to citizens and the ageing population.
It needs to recognise that every citizen, from janitors to directors, contributed to the success of our nation. Hence, every Singaporean deserves a fair share of the country's wealth, from youth to retirement.
The new leaders can sustain Singapore's success as an inclusive and fair society.
Our founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was an adaptable politician who implemented balanced, people-centred policies, whenever the circumstances demanded it.
We should learn from his versatility, and shift our mentality of governance to suit changing times.
Paul Chan Poh Hoi