Let’s start by going all the way back to the 60s.
For this post, I will use two 60 years old males as an example of the income gap in Singapore and how it has spiraled down to our current situation.
I will use Mr Wooden Spoon and Mr Silver Spoon as an example right here.
Let’s talk about Mr Wooden spoon first. His dad was a blue-collar worker in the 60s, which was enough to feed a family of 6-8 people.
To Wooden’s dad, it’s more than enough if his children has clothes to wear, food to eat and a school to attend. When Wooden reached 7 years old, his dad enrolled him into a Chinese-stream school.
In education, for example, the government did not attempt to regulate and support the number of Chinese schools and, at the same time, encourage the growth of English-stream schools. The Chinese-educated became an under-privileged group; they had no opportunities for tertiary education nor could they hope to be employed in the civil service.
There was the first split in between the “Elite” class and the “working” class of Singapore.
Example of a Chinese-Stream School in the 60s as shown below.
Let’s talk about Mr Silver Spoon. His dad was a humble lawyer who was able to afford a good house for his Family. He was one of the minority in his era to understand the importance of Education and started to save up a sum of Money for his Son University’s fees.
Example of a lawyer’s job in the 60s.
Much of my litigation work in Singapore then was concerned with moneylenders’ actions, property disputes (especially rent-controlled disputes) and debt collection. We were paid adequately but not handsomely and, in my case, I was given a fixed bonus of one month every year. However, the cost of living was very low, and a bit of frugality would allow a young lawyer to buy even a small house in the best district in Singapore.
When Silver reached 7 years old, his dad enrolled him into a English-stream school.
When Mr Wooden reached 16 years old, he decided to drop out of school to work instead as tertiary education need a good command of English to enroll in. Mr Silver on the other hand has successfully attained a place in National Junior College, the first specialized co-educational government school established in independent Singapore for top pre-university students.
There is the second split of differences for Singapore. One has succumbed to the fate of “working class” and the other was destined to climb even further up onto the “elite” class ladder.
Fast forward to a few years later, Mr Wooden is a technician who lived from paycheck to paycheck while Mr Silver is a lawyer who understood the theory of Investment.
Right now, both men are in their 60s. Mr Silver is able to retire comfortably in a few years time while Mr Wooden has his financial stress of not having enough to live a basic minimal life and might need to work till to his 80s.
Hopefully Singapore government will do something about this impending issue. Else I will be planning my own retirement at Malaysia with my partner.