PM Lee spells out how to address income inequality

PM Lee spells out how to address income inequality

It has become a fashionable topic, and yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave his take on income inequality.

He said the way to tackle it is to equip people with skills that are in demand, and to redistribute wealth so that everyone can have "chips to play with".

He was answering a question about what Asian governments can do about income inequality, at a wide-ranging dialogue during the Singapore Summit conference.

Making sure that people have the necessary skills to succeed can help to generate growth and jobs, The Straits Times quoted him as saying.

Redistributing wealth, by making sure that people have access to housing, a good education and high quality health care, will also "enable a greater sense of equity and justice in the system".

Mr Lee also spoke of two key worries on the international front - the Islamic State group in the Middle East, and rising nationalism in Asia, Channel NewsAsia reported.

Singapore has yet to decide how it can support the US-led effort against IS, he said.

"What we can do... is to watch the security, the confidence building and trust building between the different communities, and make sure the Muslims have leaders that will stand up to say ISIS is not Islam… and try to prevent people from being misled by them," he was quoted as saying.

"And fortunately in Singapore, we have got religious leaders who have said that emphatically, and I think the population in general understand."

As for the other concern, Mr Lee said rising nationalism in Asia, evident in territorial disputes, the tone of national debates and harsh Internet discourse, could upset peace and security.

"Nationalism is a very powerful force. It can be a plus, it can be a minus, if you harness it to get people to take pride in themselves, to work, to develop and grow, you can transform the country... You don't need a solution to nationalism, you need to channel nationalism in a direction which is constructive, compatible with us all prospering together."

This article was first published on Sept 21, 2014.
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