Why do Singaporeans REALLY mind the income gap?


“Income inequality matters not because of economics but because it stokes the flames of envy, driving debilitating dissension and instability into society.” I can’t agree more, and couldn’t have said it better.

There are now 60 super rich people for every 100,000 residents here.

According to the Knight Frank forecast, the number of ultra-high-net-worth-individuals (UHNWIs) will increase by 1,752 over the next decade. These people have a net S$41 million in assets.



Yes, I think I see your jaw dropping.

It makes total economic sense to attract the super rich into our country. Wealth is created in healthy economies where consumers spend. When these people with high purchasing power settle here, they spend more – and their spending goes on to benefit the rest of us.

What more when we are attracting investments from large multinational businesses? And if I may mention an isolated case, a record S$51 million penthouse deal was closed with the co-founder of Alibaba last month. It brought in a commission of about S$1.5 million  for the 26-year-old property agent. We just might hear more of such news from now.



Nonetheless,  the income gap is inevitably widened. Well, because these multimillionaires can’t possibly spend (and ‘contribute’ to us) more than they earn. Do note that we are actually earning higher wages than the rest of the world, albeit falling short on income equality.

The government also helps the low-income in ways possible, including GST offset packages. The income gap has shown a marked improvement over the past two years due to more financial relief for low-income households. In my opinion, the government has been caring for the underprivileged more than they do for the rich.

The rich can’t evade taxes; they are taxed just like everyone else, and they pay even more – contributing to the development of public amenities and facilities everyone gets to enjoy.

Do they get preferential treatment? No; and that’s definite, especially with Singapore’s position as a state that is intolerant to corruption. They have to queue at the ICA to collect their new passports just like you and I. And if they like our hawker fare, they have to join the lines too. Yeah, even PM Lee has to queue up for his chicken wings.




An article on Yahoo! Finance revealed that an “average” Singaporean in the workforce should be earning $9,207 per month, per person. The median salary is however, at $3,770.

If an equal wage system is truly what you think we should work towards, take a step back. What would a Singapore with no income inequality be like? If income inequality can ever be eradicated, that is.

An egalitarian society will foster a culture of unmotivated people. We all want to work for our wealth and better living. If everyone is equal… The incentive for progress, I’m afraid and certain, will be lost. It is a dangerous gulf which no government and its citizens would want to fall into.

Think about this: Will the income gap concern us that much, if not for our green eyes of envy?

In fact, we already have the lifestyle of a millionaire. As what fellow FiveStars writer Xin Hui wrote, “Material must-haves aside, the truth is we are well-educated, well-travelled, well-nourished, and, based on my Facebook observations, well-liked – quite possibly the same qualities a millionaire asks for in life.”

It is just that luxuries are never enough. When we see a man in his flashy Lamborghini, we wish we could be him. But hey, your Toyota Corolla can bring you to your destination all the same.



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About the author

Mendi Ang

Mendi Ang is a young (patriotic) Singaporean student. Her musings can be gathered from her travel observations, chats with adorable old ice cream uncles and even your conversations on the train. Inspiration is all around.

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