Photo of Indranee Rajah from Straits Times

Speaking to state media reporters at a school event yesterday (Nov 2), the Second Minister for Education Indranee Rajah blamed Singaporeans for holding negative perceptions against the poor and people who perform poorly academically. The S$1.1 million-a-year minister claimed that the people will have to work out a solution by themselves to address inequality:

“Changing the negative perceptions of streaming will take societal effort, but it can be done. I’m a great believer in the fact that if we set our minds to do something and we have the will to do it, we will be able to do so. I think Singaporeans as a whole are very sensitised to the question of being able to progress together. We talk about ‘One people, one nation’. I think changing mindsets is a goal that people will readily accept and adopt. The question is to figure out how to do it, and that is something which will take the effort by the whole of society.”

The elitist comment came after an international survey ranked the Singapore government a lowly 149th out of 157 countries on effort to reduce inequality. Several ministers had since went into denial mode, dismissing the report as inaccurate and fake news. Just last week, dictator Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong mounted a ludicrous defence saying that inequality exists even in North Korea and that the poor are better off in Singapore than other parts of the world.

Singapore’s GINI coefficient is currently 0.459, two times higher than that of Nordic countries. The huge income disparity is largely due to the absence of a Minimum Wage, which the Manpower Minister slammed as destructive for the economy, and the low tax rate for the rich.

There is no capital gains tax in Singapore, and the country is notorious for being a tax haven and money laundering hub for corrupted politicians. According to the US Department of Justice, 8 Singapore banks assisted Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak in the money laundering of Malaysian state fund 1MDB.