The “sandwiched” middle-class

Watched Malcolm from “Malcolm in the Middle” before? The ah boy who didn’t fit in society, just like the middle class in Singapore.

Not rich enough to buy expensive stuff – ferraris, home in Sentosa Cove – not poor enough to get money from gahmen.

middle-class-singapore

Guess what? This doesn’t just happen in Singapore.

In the US, millions of middle-class people are being affected by stagnating incomes and increased costs of living.

Similarly in China, the situation is nicely summed up by Shaun Rein: “China’s middle class has hopes to own a car and home and be rich one day. But as their salary growth slows, they realize they will never be able to get there.”

DPM Tharman said the gahmen is looking to help these sandwich people, whose main issue is the rising cost of living:

  • Co-funding 40% of pay rises for those earning a gross monthly salary of $4,000 or less through the Wage Credit Scheme.
  • Keeping taxes low to increase disposable income.
  • Ensuring a level playing field for Singaporeans, in relation to job opportunities and career progression.
  • Providing tangible benefits to offset the rising cost of living through various initiatives like reduced maid levy, increased childcare subsidies, and expansion of university bursaries.

Good start right?

The parliament debate is also thinking of increasing productivity in a sustainable way – like not die die insist on the “Singaporean-first” hiring policy so companies can stay competitive.

China also wants to have the same growth model. Quoting Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee, “The growth that we achieve must be tangible, not exaggerated growth, and should be efficient, of good quality and sustainable.”

We all want to tell the story of how a middle-class Ah Beng became a rich Ah Beng – the Singapore Dream – but we cannot expect the gahmen to do all our work while we sit in the kopitiam.

At the end of the day, it’s still up to your responsibilities and values to be successful. Correct or not?

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Najib A.

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