Fwd: [The Optical] Rich-Poor divide in Singapore increases

From: The Optical <theoptical@yahoo.com.sg>
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 22:20:46 +0800 (CST)
Subject: [The Optical] Rich-Poor divide in Singapore increases

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Singapore, 10 August (AKI) - As Singapore celebrated
its fortieth year of independence, the divide between
the rich and poor in the city-state is widening. Taxi
drivers, sales staff and factory workers do long
shifts at minimum wage, while the number of
millionaires - some 48,500 - rose at the world's
fastest rate in 2004, according to consultancy firm
Cap Gemini Merrill Lynch. “Twenty percent of the
population earns less, in real terms, than ten years
ago and a third of the working population does not
earn enough to pay income tax," Sinapan Samydoray of
Singapore's Think Centre told Adnkronos International

At forty, Singapore is South East Asia's pearl, a real
political and business miracle which made the
city-state far richer than its neighbouring countries.

But according to most, living in Singapore requires a
minimum monthly wage of 1,500 Singapore dollars,
around 734 euros. AKI spoke to three average
Singaporeans who live in the city who say that they
don't earn that much.

“I work twelve hours a day, seven days a week. I never
go to the movies, never take holidays and yet I don't
earn enough to support my family”, said Lion, a
52-year-old taxi driver.

Another Singaporean Fil, a 20-year-old saleswoman who
works at the Suntec commercial centre, said that her
wage doesn't allow her to live by herself. “I work
extra hours but the extra 990 Singapore dollars (440
euro) that I earn are not enough to make me
independent. I still live with my parents and if I
want to move out, I would have to find another job,"
she said.

A security agent, Razman, 30, who works at the
supermarket chain Carrefour also works extra hours and
has a second job in a gym. “I work 14 to 16 hours a
day, 6 days a week. And then I work as a private gym
instructor 3 days a week”, he said, adding that he
does all these jobs to earn a total of 1,600 Singapore
dollars (783 euro).

According to Samydoray of Singapore's Think Centre,
these three cases represent the living conditions of
the majority of the city's inhabitants.

Samydoray explains that Singapore doesn't have minimum
wage and each employee has work out the conditions of
his or her own salary. The local population has been
left with virtually no negotiating power since cheap
labour is available from neighbouring states and the
government tries to limit the wages in order to
attract foreign investments.

The situation is completely different for the wealthy
portion of the population which rose at the fastest
pace in the world in 2004, according to a report by
the consultancy firm Cap Gemini Merrill Lynch.

Singapore's millionaires rose 22.4 percent to 48,500
people, the report said. In the US, the number
increased 10 percent to 2.5 million and in Hong Kong
they rose by 18.8 percent to 67,500. Asia had 2.3
million millionaires last year, up 8.2 percent, the
research showed.

Mukhopadhaya Pundarik, a professor at Singapore's
National University, said the rich-poor divide in the
city-state has increased during the economic crisis
which hit South East Asia in 1997. In that period,
said the professor, the average income of Singaporeans
fell by 2.7 percent, while the that of the poorest
families fell by a staggering 49 percent.

Despite the gap, Singapore remains an efficient state.
The former British colony, which gained independence
in 1965 from Malaysia, has become in just a few
decades a financial and technological centre as well
as one of the world's busiest ports.

“For the rich and for foreigners, Singapore is an
exceptional place. I have no doubt about it. I only
hope the majority of the local population could have
the chance to benefit from the city," said Samydoray.

THE OPTICAL (Singapore)
News: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheOptical
E-mail: theoptical@yahoo.com.sg

Disclaimer: The Optical provides Singapore political news as well as other related news which we believe will have an impact on Singapore either directly or indirectly. The Optical is not responsible for the content of broadcasted articles.

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