Reminder of Singapore's progress

An aerial view of Singapore.

SINGAPORE - I applaud the new Step-Up grant to help low-income families living in two-room HDB flats upgrade to three-room units ("8,000 flat owners stand to benefit from Step-Up grant"; Aug 22).

The family mentioned in the report made me reflect on what "low-income" means in the Singapore context.

In this instance, the household comprised a single mother, her two children and their maid, living in a two-room flat bought on the resale market.

This Singaporean picture of a low-income family is probably at odds with the global definition of a needy household.

In most countries, having a maid is considered to be the sole preserve of the wealthy, not to mention the concept of home ownership.

We should celebrate how far we have progressed as a country over the last 48 years, bearing in mind that our definition of "low-income" is akin to what many around the world consider to be middle- or even high-income.

Past policies and sacrifices made by the pioneer generation got us to where we are today, and it is up to the current generation to ensure that we continue to build on these successes.

We need to be mindful that these achievements be seen in the context of a population that works hard to maintain them, and are not entitlements that we mistakenly expect to continue into perpetuity with no additional effort from us.

- Tan Suan Jin

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