Tin Pei Ling: Globalisation – High & Low
Dated : 11-11-2007
Party Convention – 2007
Globalisation – High & Low
Tin Pei Ling
Respectable party leaders and comrades, good morning to you all. My name is Tin Pei Ling from the Young PAP (Ulu Pandan). I am grateful to have this opportunity to share my views in two languages on the topic of the widening income gap.
This is not a new topic. Besides studying whether the gap is widening, it is more important to find out if the lowest-income group is able to get by and not fall into the vicious cycle. Many people are complaining and blaming the government for this problem. But is this really the responsibility of the government? I don’t think so.
政府可以从宏观的角度，设立强有力的架构协助我们成功，但这是不够的。所谓：” 国家兴亡，匹夫有责” 。每个人，不分你我，对国家有责任，对周围的同胞们也有责任！
The government, at the macro level, can set up a robust framework to help us be successful, but this is not enough. As the Chinese saying goes, the individual has a responsibility towards the survival and success of the country
. Everyone, besides a duty for the nation, also has an obligation to the fellow countrymen around him.
Today, I am not trying to find a reason for the situation. We should not just talk about it, but need to be proactive in finding a solution. Please excuse my boldness in offering two suggestions, and two more in my English speech.
第一项，我们要自强不息，力争上游；不断地自我调适，自我更新！许多人认为做人难，做新加坡人更难！从某些角度来看，这或许是真的。可人生又曾几何时是尽如人意的？我们应该要了解，环球发展不会为了新加坡，更不会为了你或我而放慢。尽管政府再怎么尽全力地资助或扶持我们，这始终不是万全之策 -- 治标不治本。
First of all, we need to persevere and strive for continuous improvement, adjustment and rejuvenation. A lot of people think that making a living is difficult, I think making a living in Singapore is even more difficult! We need to understand that globalization will not slow down for Singapore, or you and me. No matter how hard the government tries to subsidise and help us, it will just be treating the problem superficially without solving the root.
The government is like a ship and it can help us reach our destination safely and smoothly. However, this ship still needs to be operated by people. In other words, we still play the critical role ourselves. If we are not helping ourselves, how can we solve the problem?
Secondly, we need to learn from our forefathers and seniors. We should emulate and promote their value systems and spirit of endurance. Our party is 53 years old, many pioneers are still active today. They have lived through the years of turbulence, under very poor living conditions, but they did not give up. They bite the bullet
and helped to build a strong foundation for Singapore. Take my own father as an example, when he was a young man in the sixties, he struggled even with three meals a day. If he dropped 20 cents, he would have to starve for a day and walk all the way home from school. Despite all these, his generation worked hard and succeeded ultimately. This is something we should learn from.
Hence, even when the economic environment is not favourable, we must continue to persevere, work hard and make a difference!
A very good morning to Party Chairman, Secretary-General and fellow comrades! My name is Tin Pei Ling from the Young PAP (Ulu Pandan).
I thank you for the opportunity to speak today, and I thank my fellow YP comrades for sharing their insights with me online. Allow me to share these with you.
Singapore’s income gap is growing. The Gini coefficient for Singapore had increased from 0.442 to 0.472 in year 2000, before adjusting for Government benefits and taxes. From an economic standpoint, this suggests a growing income inequality.
This widening of income gap is a complex challenge faced by every society. And to tackle this, it helps to break it down and address the components accordingly.
Getting the Economics Right
To address the rich-poor gap, we must first ascertain the possibility of becoming rich in the first place! Hence, from a macro-level, we must be able to progress and hold our own against giant, booming economies such as China and India. We must not easily fall prey to the short-sighted proposals made by the Opposition, who push for either protectionism or welfarism! We are Singaporeans who have dignity and integrity. We can achieve much if we are willing to put in the effort. And we should not yield to these temptations (short-term wins), as other greater nations than ours did and been the worse for it.
From a micro-level, and of most immediate concern, those at the bottom of the social ladder must have sufficient to live by. Having ensured that, there must be hope for the children of those who are considered poor now to break out of the poverty cycle later in life. In essence, we must – (1) Help the poor; (2) Maintain social mobility.
Helping the Poor
In Singapore, it appears that while the rich has gotten richer, the poor have NOT gotten poorer. The Department of Statistics reported that the bottom 20% of our population have seen their lives improve over the last decade.
BUT there are still those amongst us who need help. Some, we meet weekly at our Meet-the-People Sessions; some, we meet almost daily in our classes or workplace. As youth, it is crucial that we remain aware of the needy. We, who have voices, must advocate for those who cannot speak. And we must do more than speak – we must act, by seeking out those who need help and find ways to help them.
As YP members, we also have the privilege of working with our Parliamentary leaders and decision makers. In the course of serving the community, we have learnt about the different avenues of assistance and paths to seek help. We know the strength of our national system, and how the good can become even better!
This confers upon us a special responsibility, to give ground feedback sincerely and honestly, without fear or favour. Let it never be said that the Young PAP is a bastion of yes-men and women, but young thinking Singaporeans who are prepared to speak our minds, defend and decide what is right and not just about being popular.
Maintaining Social Mobility – Helping the Next Generation
Our nation abides by the principle of meritocracy.
It is a tragedy when a family descends into poverty. But the tragedy is multiplied if that family’s children cannot rise out of poverty. We must not let this happen.
Hence, children from poor families must enjoy equal access to education. They must not feel compelled to leave school in order to make ends meet. Neither should they be afraid to aspire to schools of excellence, for fear that their great talent is not matched by great wealth.
Thankfully, our education system has done well compared to other countries! We have been able to subsidise education for young Singaporeas, and spread quality across our neighbourhood schools. Singapore has done this competently and should continue to evolve to become better!
As members of Young PAP, we also have a role. Those of us who have risen out of poverty can be role models, helping to guide the less fortunate along the road we have trodden ourselves. And those of us still struggling to make ends meet, can be a voice to highlight situations on the ground, while inspiring our fellow men and women as we endeavour onward and upward to build a better future.
In summary, the rich-poor gap is not an easy issue, and there are no easy answers.
As youth of today, we have an important role: Our willingness to serve and give back to society can be the inspiration for others to do the same.
If we help one another, if the privileged willingly contribute out of a sense of social responsibility, then we can achieve a precious possibility. -- Build a country where the poor know they can aspire to greatness, where the helpless – having fought the good fight – will be looked after.
We, the youth of Singapore, have been privileged with many gifts by virtue of our history and our unique situation today. With our great gifts, comes great responsibility.
Let us take up that responsibility and build a better tomorrow, starting today.