Poverty: S’pore vs Hong Kong?

A more effective poverty support system is required in Singapore.

I refer  to the article  “Explain This: what does it mean to be poor in Hong Kong, and how many people live in poverty?” (South China Morning Post, Oct 12).

It states that “The latest official figures showed 1.34 million people were living below the poverty line in 2015, out of a total population of 7.34 million. That figure was 20,000 more than the year before and the highest since 2009. The poverty rate stood at 19.7 per cent of the population, a study released by the government in October last year found.

In 2015 authorities set the poverty line for one-person households at HK$3,800 per month, and HK$8,800 for two-person homes.

As to “According to social workers, low-income households are often forced to cut their expenditure on food to cope with rising rents. A “coffin home”, for instance, so-called for their minuscule size, might cost almost HK$2,000 a month” – the cheapest rental for a room in a HDB flat, in the open market is about $500 (HK$2,885) – for those who are not eligible for the rental of HDB one and 2-room flats.

With regard to “The poverty line has been drawn at half the city’s median household income ($8,846 in Singapore), with those below it considered poor” – about 25 per cent of households are below the poverty  line in Singapore, using the same benchmark.

In respect of “Oxfam’s Wong called for greater public spending on social welfare, for which estimated expenditure for the 2016-17 financial year was HK$66.2 billion, accounting for 19 per cent of the government budget” – Singapore’s public spending on social welfare is estimated to be less than one per cent of GDP or five per cent of the government  budget.

As to “Support groups have called on the government to review the city’s statutory minimum wage annually, rather than every two years” – there is no minimum wage in Singapore.

With regard to “There have also been calls to extend the city’s retirement protection system to include elderly residents who live with their children” – there is hardly any retirement protection system in Singapore, as our CPF  system is essentially the people’s own contributions.

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.