Check excesses of free market

Our Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, declined last year to 0.463 from 0.478 in 2012 ("Income inequality here lowest in decade: Report"; Wednesday); it may not be a trend reversal and is still among the highest for developed countries.

While the highest-earning 10 per cent of households here saw their incomes drop last year, the salaries of top executives remain indefensibly high.

A recent study showed that senior executives here earned more than their counterparts in Hong Kong and Japan ("Top management in S'pore among the best paid in Asia"; Feb 12).

Consider a cleaner who earns $1,000 monthly, and contrast this with the few millions that some salaried executives earn yearly.

Unlike entrepreneurs who have succeeded after leaving well-paid jobs and risking their own venture money, how many top-salaried executives merit their huge incomes?

Company boards have a moral and fiduciary duty to correct such extravagance.

The income/wealth divide here and elsewhere will remain stubbornly wide. Political and corporate leaders must be bold to check the excesses of the free market. And meritocracy could be less clinical.

Tan Chak Lim


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