Policy concerns and the framework of support
In the effort to cope with a rapidly ageing population, the government of Singapore constantly looks to other countries such as the UK, US and Japan to derive best practices for the nation. Japan, as a developed and Confucianist
unlike Japan which had once attempted to adopt the Western welfare approach in the early 1970s but changed its course in the wake of the oil crises in the later part of that decade, the Singapore government has been steadfast in its non-welfare state philosophy towards care. This was a decision made by the People’s Action Party (PAP), the party in government since 1959 when Singapore achieved self-government from the British colonial administration (Ngiam 2004). The decision took into account the leaders’ concerns with the lack of recurring finances needed to sustain a welfare system. For a country that does not have natural resources and depends solely on its human capital for development, a welfare state approach is also deemed undesirable for fear that it would erode Singapore’s work ethic and affect the island’s competitiveness in the global market (Ngiam 2005). Moreover, the higher taxation needed to sustain a welfare state system will raise tax rates and affect the competitiveness of Singapore in attracting the foreign direct investment upon which it so much depends for economic growth (Yeung 2000). In principle, economic logic largely drives the approach of social welfare and other policy making in Singapore. As Western welfare states began to face a crisis of affordability in welfare provisions from the 1970s, the different approach adopted by Singapore and other economically strong Asian countries has since been examined more seriously (Jones Finer 2005).