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The Straits Times

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The Complexity Of Social Mixing, Beyond The Housing Environment

The excellent report of the diverse residential experiences within Singapore’s only integrated housing block which mixes rental and purchased units (ST, Jun. 6) highlights both the potential and limits of government intervention to reduce socio-economic inequality or stratification – especially given that some from the purchased units appear disproportionately displeased with the arrangement, that residents of both groups have created and mostly stuck to their respective communication channels, and that online and offline interactions across the groups seem limited – brings attention to the perceptions we have of ourselves and the stereotypes we hold of other Singaporeans, and ultimately points to the complexity of social mixing in different settings. Academic researchers, in this vein, should also be prompted to further examine some of these questions on attitudes and behaviours of the residents and their families. Continue reading

The Equity Of Opportunities, Not The Equality Of Outcomes

Notwithstanding the propositions that improving the absolute well-being of Singaporeans and achieving relative equity or equality within the country are not mutually exclusive policy objectives – and is ostensibly a balance the Singapore government seeks to establish – and that growth with equity is therefore a worthy objective, distinguishing the equity of opportunities and the equality of outcomes and stressing the former brings attention to the important principle of justice, which is also enshrined in the Singapore pledge. And while it might be true that from intelligence to work ethic “human beings are unequal in almost every respect” (ST, Jun. 1), it does not follow that Singaporeans should then accept the consequent inequalities or ignore governmental or community potential to increase equity. Continue reading

To Build Trust, Move Beyond Disproportionate Deference To The Government

While well-intentioned, the question of how the government can build trust with the younger generation (ST, May 23) and its emphasis on “consensus” as an answer still result in disproportionate deference to the government, thereby disregarding the ability of (young) Singaporeans to independently advocate for policy change – reflected by the many movements and organisations across a variety of socio-economic causes which already exist – and even their democratic ability to shape the government which represents them. In addition to the Youth Conversations, for instance, other groups have had no trouble organising their own forums or programmes to solicit views. Of greater interest and further independent of governmental involvement, it would appear, is facilitating the continued accommodation of diverse community voices as well as nudging uninvolved or lethargic individuals to be a part of these broader discourses. Continue reading

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