SINGAPORE — Located in the islands between Malaysia and Indonesia is the bustling city-state of Singapore. Although a land with very few natural resources, Singapore is still considered to be one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Despite its “wealth,” poverty in Singapore runs rampant.
The man who founded modern-day Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, transformed the former British colony into a major financial and manufacturing center. Yew established the largest domestic sectors, like electronics and banking, by directing government aid directly towards their creation.
The culmination of these efforts made Singapore’s property market one of the top 10, and the sixth most expensive city when compared to New York City according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
However, poverty in Singapore is still a major problem. The mass amount of poverty in Singapore demonstrates its stark economic divide, despite the close proximity in which the rich and poor live.
There is currently no minimum wage or even a poverty line set in Singapore. According to member of Parliament, Tan Su Shan, Singapore views a single poverty line as a one-dimensional approach, which has limitations in establishing policies, because it does not necessarily account for other problems such as health care and housing.
With a growing index of lower-cost foreign workers, the wages of many blue-collar Singaporeans are suffering. In the past, there have been few welfare provisions like those familiar to Western economies.
Distributing aid is becoming more apparent. In 2014, $116 million was allocated through ComCare to eliminate poverty in Singapore. Then just this past year the government developed and is working to execute the Child Development Co-Savings (Amendment) Bill, which is aimed at encouraging fathers to play a larger role in child rearing and extending the current Child Development Co-Savings Scheme to children of unwed parents.
Additionally, private organizations like Willing Hearts are giving aid to eliminate poverty in Singapore. Willing Hearts is a secular charity entirely volunteer run. The organization operates a soup kitchen that prepares, cooks and supplies about 5,000 daily meals to over 40 locations.
Willing Hearts even provides other resources the most impoverished of Singapore may not have access to, such as legal aid, dental care, tuition services for primary school children and optical care.
Poverty in Singapore is a masked problem under the glittering lights and wealth of a prominent city. It still resides and proves that even the wealthiest nations can still struggle with providing complete access to proper resources for all people.
– Veronica Ung-Kono