Why no official poverty line? PAP Minister Chan Chun Sing has this to say:
1) it would not fully reflect the severity and complexity of issues faced by the poor,
2) and may also lead to those above the line missing out on assistance
From (1), it seems like the PAP do not perceive tissue-touting, wheelchair-snack-bars and other half-begging means is severe. They do not think it is important to demarcate the poverty line because they believe the poor in Singapore is well look after, despite having to spend the least in welfare as compared to other countries.
The second excuse (2) is a joke. When you are worried about people falling into cracks, you simply raise the bar higher or practice active means-testing for those who do not qualify. How could this be a valid excuse not to have a poverty line?
A poverty line is important to identify the poor. It is only when we know who is poor by a certain benchmark, do we know who we can help. It makes me wonder how does the PAP help the poor when they don’t even know who are the poor.
Perhaps the real reason for not having a poverty line, is the embarrassing fact that there are too many poor people in Singapore. The PAP’s KPI in the people’s eyes will be defined by the number of people living below poverty line – that is if we have one. They are worried they couldn’t trumpet how well they are leading Singapore when they score record GDP every year and yet having more people falling below the poverty line.
From a simple apple-to-apple comparison measurement of those drawing less than $1500 salary a month, it is obvious as many as 458,000 Singaporeans are living below poverty line. Income gap have continued to rise this year with the GINI coefficient staying well above 4 for the last decade. And with the PAP Minister using such flimsy excuses is a national shame.
There are many things the PAP do not tell us out of “our interests”, like the construction cost of HDB flats, the amount of National Reserves and this time, the number of poor. It is amazing how Singaporeans can be so ignorant and only a small handful of us are calling for accountability and transparency. It makes me lose hope of this country’s future because the PAP can simply lead everyone to the cliff and the sheep will jump off one by one.