25 July 2018
Inequality, or the widening ratio between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’, is fast becoming an issue with dire political and moral considerations. Both the 2016 ‘Brexit’ referendum and the election of Donald Trump was made possible by disgruntled voters who were fed up with the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
In Asia, inequality is likewise quickly becoming a political issue. China was one of the most equal societies in the 1980s but is now one of the least so. Chinese leaders have attempted to redistribute wealth more equally but many still feel unjust. Although China does not have free elections, fears remain among the Communist Party of a rising anti-elite sentiment. In Southeast Asia, the economic success of ASEAN nations has overshadowed the resulting inequalities. Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia have one of the highest GINI coefficients (a higher coefficient indicates less equitable income distribution) in the developed world. The region, however, has stayed largely free, save for the Philippines, from similar manifestations of dissatisfaction towards inequality so far.
… Amanda Huan is a Senior Analyst with the Centre for Multilateralism Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 01/08/2018