Do Singaporeans deserve the salaries they are paid?
That was the pointed question posed by a reader responding to a piece I wrote on how median wages had stagnated in recent years despite a growing economy (The Sunday Times, June 16).
He didn't think it was surprising because, to put it bluntly, that's what they deserve.
This was how he put it, which I'm quoting extensively because his perspective is worth airing even if it's painful to hear:
"Singapore's median income of $3,000 per month is fairly high if converted to local currencies of neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, India and China. Does the average Singaporean worker deserve this premium?
"Is he/she really more analytical, creative, articulate and productive than our Asian counterparts let alone those in the developed countries of Switzerland and Germany?
"My experience and that of many of my friends and colleagues who have tried recruiting Singaporeans in this income bracket does not bear this out.
"For a start, many local graduates... have a hard time conversing in good English... Because of this, they generally tend to be poor communicators and lack the confidence to interact in group situations.
"The other weak area is reasoning and critical thinking skills... Many Singaporeans looked great on paper but had great difficulty with case interviews where one needs to think on one's feet.