THE TEMASEK TIMES

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Tommy Koh speaks up against Singapore’s widening income gap

Posted by temasektimes on May 4, 2012

Singapore’s Ambassador-at-large Professor Tommy Koh has spoken out against Singapore’s widening income gap between the rich and the poor, describing it as ‘socially unconscionable’.

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.

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15 Responses to “Tommy Koh speaks up against Singapore’s widening income gap”

  1. CKMPD said

    Well done, Prof Tommy Koh. Thank you for speaking with a conscience

  2. ;ABC said

    At last he is talking. How about campaigning against such unconscionable treatment of these workers? I am sure thousands will respond. The much condemned British colonial had a heart. Civil servants` salaries carried a Cost of Living alloawnce.This was removed by the PAP government.

  3. No-Moral Money-Faced PAP said

    Describing Singapore’s widening income gap between the rich and the poor as ‘socially unconscionable’, Tommy Koh implies PAP lack morals, too money-faced when deciding policies. . . . .

  4. Opinion is that remuneration should be in line of what is being produce. The biggest problem in Singapore, that this is not the CASE. Those who really can produce and have to work hard for it have to look up to the one who produces nothing and does nothing, whereby the one who really produces are being suppress for a nominal fees sometimes under paid fees and the one who does nothing reaps all the huge benefits. But than if something goes wrong THE ONE WHO PRODUCES GETS ALL THE BLAME WHERE THE ONE WHO PRODUCES NOTHING JUST SIT TIGHT AND CLAIMS THAT HE IS NOT TO BE BLAME. IF EVERYTHING GOES FINE HE WILL CLAIM ALL CREDIT THOUGH NOT THROUGH HIS EFFORT. Thick skin and does not know what is shame.
    Prof. Lim Chong Yah and Prof. Tommy Koh and many in the quiet have come out with substance to correct the wrong, where the Authorities and the few who have FAILED or REFUSES , would not want to lift even a small finger to correct their FLAWS.
    Bless Singapore is not heading for DOOM

  5. No More Forgiveness for Traitors said

    Another snake speaks. Tommy was revealed recently by Wikileaks as saying he does not mind Spore being assimilated into China.

    And furthermore, as special advisor to IPS, whom recently put out a paper saying we need 25,000 more per year, his word ring hollow. If there ever was a politrician in Spore, he is it. And I mean it derogatively.

    • pay said

      Not really, his port was eastern bloc, perhaps he was cast out because he was potential for peoples voice? His tone was measured and controlled, so dont under estimate for he could be dark horse from within

  6. Blood suckers 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”

    Did he also mention that these jobs are not shun by the honkies cos it is a decent job and their society do not look down upon these people unlike here.

    • Moses Oh said

      Of cos in those countries, the manual labour jobs are almost higher paid than those working in cushy office workers. Why because those jobs are demanding so they are always paid good salary that complement demand of jobs.

      In Singapore the most demanding job are always the lowest paid. Of cos who wants to work under the sun, risk of sunstroke and accidents. Its the mentally of the employers to always think of exploiting workers.

    • DTL said

      just like in Canada, white collar job is a respectable and good money.

  7. Busybodyl said

    The truth is out!!!

  8. Family Man said

    The biggest problems I feel still lie with the foreign pmets that are brought in. Singaporeans are generally not suited for certain sectors.

  9. Army boy said

    GST is to help the poor?

    This is definitely dogs’ language.

    PS. Personal income and corporate tax was reduced during GST implementation.

    This also widens the income gap.

  10. fpc said

    pap intellectuals are always late. csm mentioned this long time ago during ge2011

  11. KempeitaiTransLEEtors said

    Tommy “the train” just chugs along “choo choo” to what the Pappies demands. He appears to be the ‘good guy’ (conscience), but is all talk only. Typical pappy dog.

  12. Talk is cheap. Has Tommy Koh the gall to take his talk one atep farther to press on with his conviction that the widening income gap between the rich and poor is an unconscionable social divide?
    He says he agrees with Prof Lim CY’s aim but not his proposal. What are his proposals that differ from Prof Lim CY’s? Does he truly agree with Prof Lim CY’s aim or is his current broadside a veiled defence of the PAPie status quo as he’s against Prof Lim CY’s proposal?
    Undoubtedly, Prof Tommy Koh has done much for Sinkieland aa her Roving Ambassador and in particular his legal triumph in the Pedro Branca dispute with Malaysia. He has now come out to (seemingly) speak for the common ppl and, in properness, he shd come out straight and clean without fear or favour to state exactly how and where he stands, to be admired or loathed as the case may be. Given his seniority being 70+ yrs old and his financial independence, he shd bend his knees only to God and certainly not the famiLEES in being forthright, fair and just on this hot potato issue of social conscience.

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