Meritocracy works: Really?

CC BY-SA 3.0, BY-SA 3.0,

The lower-income households, HDB rental and HDB 1 and 2-room statistics may indicate that meritocracy may not be working well in Singapore?

I refer to the article “Meritocracy still the best model, says Ong Ye Kung” (Straits Times, Oct 25).

It states that “”Ten years ago, about 20 per cent of our employed households had an income of $3,000 or less… Today, this has gone down to well below 15 per cent. But that also means that the smaller group of families that continue to remain poor are facing more difficult challenges.”

Mr Ong stressed the need to recognise this fundamental point – that these challenges have arisen not from meritocracy’s failure, but from its success. “So, let us not discard meritocracy, for I don’t think it has finished running its useful course.”

As we have been granting on the average about 200,000 new citizens and 300,000 new PRs in the last decade or so – and generally, PRs earn more than Singaporeans – does it correspondingly mean that PR and new citizen households added to the population, also earn more than true-blue Singaporean households?

If so, if we account for such new households – has our $3,000 income households really decreased from 20 to 15% in the last decade?

Also, since the data cited is for employed resident (Singaporeans and PRs) households, and the unemployment rate of Singaporeans is higher than PRs – why not give the dara for employed and unemployed Singaporean households combined, instead of resident households?

In this connection, “the HDB has ramped up the rental flat supply from 42,000 units in 2007 to 53,500, with an aim to boost this to 60,000 by next year (2017)”.

% of HDB 1 & 2 -room flats increase every year?

I also understand that the percentage share of HDB 1 & 2-room flats is at its highest in about  12 years (2005 – 2017), at about 6 per cent (increasing gradually every year from the low of 3.9 per cent in 2008).

Looking at the above statistics – is meritocracy working well in Singapore?

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.