Tommy Koh speaks up against Singapore’s widening income gap
Posted by temasektimes on May 4, 2012
Speaking on Thursday at an Institute of Policy Study (IPS) roundtable on Singapore’s population trends, Koh, who is also special adviser to the IPS, expressed his concerns at Singapore’s income disparity which is the highest among the thirty most developed economies in the world after Hong Kong.
Referring to economist professor Lim Chong Yah’s wage shock therepy, he said he agreed with Prof Lim’s aim though he did not agree with his proposal.
“The issue needed to be addressed not through palliatives but by seeing what we can do to fundamentally alter the wages of the bottom 30 per cent of our people,” he added.
Prof Koh also rebuked economist fellow participant at the roundtable Shandre Thangavelu who argued that the income gap is “part of globalisation and technological change”.
“Singapore’s practice of importing large numbers of cheap and unskilled labour depresses wages in its service and non-tradable sectors,” Prof Koh said.
He further noted that construction workers in Hong Kong are twice as productive as those in Singapore, and receive two-and-a-half times the income earned here.