Photo of Ong Ye Kung from CNA

Without any references or statistics, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung openly lied in Parliament today (May 15) in his anti-welfare speech claiming that welfare cost 30% in income tax and up to 25% GST. The PAP Minister threatened to increase taxes if Singaporeans demand welfare like unemployment and poverty payout assistance:

“A few countries have implemented universal welfare. But make no mistake, no handout is actually free. Someone has to pay for it. In these countries, average income tax is about 30 per cent, with Goods and Services Tax (GST) at 20 to 25%. In Singapore, half of our population do not pay personal income taxes, and GST is still single-digit. If we want universal welfare, taxes on ordinary folks, including the middle-income, will have to be much higher.”

The million-dollar-salary PAP Minister said the poor should “help themselves”:

“A better way forward would be to enable people to help themselves. What’s the difference? We make help available to them, but we also preserve their motivation, so that they continue to strive, instead of being passive recipients of welfare.”

Minister Ong Ye Kung then openly lied again on the income inequality indicator, GINI Coefficient. The official GINI coefficient of Singapore is 0.458 in 2017. The PAP Minister however claimed that it is “about 0.36”:

“Singapore’s Gini coefficient is about 0.36, which is better than the US (0.39) and about the same as the UK, but higher than other European countries and Japan owing to their welfare systems.”

The PAP Minister then claimed the society is equal because Singaporeans are “enjoying” birthday celebrations and going overseas for holidays:

“Birthday and festive celebrations in restaurants, living in bigger HDB flats and ECs, family vacations overseas – these are not enjoyed by an exclusive few, but a broad middle.”

Minister Ong Ye Kung also blamed the rise in inequality to people mixing with friends of similar wealth statures, and declared that government policies are not at fault:

“People are free to choose their friends and who they want to be with. But when groups are predominantly formed along socio-economic status – whether one is rich or poor – it is the start of stratification and that will poison society over time.”