What is unfair to some, is actually fairer for all
Over the past many decades of Singapore’s modern existence, the government has made decisions to do some things that is unfair. Either unfair by popular opinion or unfair to some minority groups. But this has always been the attitude of this government – it doesn’t care about opinions, it is more concerned with welfare of the majority.
A forum letter to the Straits Times today caught my attention. It brought up three popular questions that have been asked and abused by opposition politicians, NGOs, business owners and the media – all whom are biased groups.
• Why does Singapore need to maintain such high reserves? Shouldn’t the Government slow down and share the fruits from the hard work of past generations?
• Why are there so many government-linked companies (GLCs)? They are crowding out smaller local companies and preventing them from gaining a foothold and developing.
• Why does the Government allow the National Trades Union Congress to venture into so many different businesses?
The forum writer went on to provide summaries of the answers to these often asked questions. In turn, these are:
• First, without sizeable reserves, or if the Government had not used the reserves wisely in the past, Singapore would not have been able to come up with three rescue packages totaling more than $60 billion within a few months, and pledging to do more if necessary.
• Second, without the GLCs, the Government would not have as much leverage to get the relevant industries to support the various initiatives it has put together during the crisis to help smaller businesses and Singaporeans. These include the Temporary Bridging Loan programme and the Enterprise Financing Scheme.
• Third, if not for FairPrice, we would likely have become short of some daily necessities and groceries, and prices for some supplies might have gone up significantly if the market had been left to natural market forces. And may we add that market forces are always mercantile.
Questions are not innocent. Questions are in themselves a message and sometimes, these questions are not eliciting any answers. Nevertheless, the answers that the forum writer summarised are no secret. They are published extensively, both on and offline.
If the purpose of asking these questions is accountability, then let us look at whether or not there is a need to call accountability into question.
The country has money to help citizens. People are well housed. Our medical care has prevented large numbers of people from dying. Our hospitals resources are not over-run. We are able to call on both the armed forces and the private sector to carry out emergency operations on demand to help the foreign workers. We are able to mobilise the entire business community to carry out safe-distancing plans. Our supermarkets follow the lead of FairPrice and are not overwhelmed.
There is a need for questioning and debate, but there is a universe of concerns to tackle, attention should be paid to those. The very reason why biased groups keep asking the same questions, for which answers already exist, is because they are just that – biased.
And they are not sincere in asking these questions, they are trying to sell their own version of the answer.