Dec 5, 2012

Why do Singaporeans tolerate unfairness?

Singapore has one of the highest GINI coefficient in the world.  It is ranked 2nd highest in the world. There is a big gap between the rich and the poor.

Consider the recent strike by PRC bus drivers from SMRT in Singapore. A few Singaporeans, such as Singapore's famous blogger Lucky Tan, complain about unfairness,

"we should have "zero tolerance" for such an unfair and unjust situation."

Singapore's Presidential candidate in 2011, Tan Kin Lian, also complains about unfairness,

"The law on employment should be changed to treat contract workers fairly."

But many Singaporeans, such as the CEO of SMRT, do not see any unfairness.

"He stressed that the existing compensation and contract terms are fair."

Why do they not see the unfairness, given that even monkeys can easily see unfairness?

The reason can be found in these two reports.

Report 1

Toward understanding the psychology of reactions to perceived fairness : The role of affect intensity

"People high in affect intensity show strong affective reactions following the experience of outcome fairness  and procedural fairness. When affect intensity is low, however, weak or no fairness effects were found, suggesting that then fairness may not be an important issue."

In simple words, only people high in emotions complain about unfairness. Unemotional people do not even feel the unfairness.

Report 2

Singaporeans 'unemotional'

"We all know that money can’t buy you love, but folding cash clearly doesn’t make you happy either, if Singaporeans are anything to go by. In fact, to paraphrase another quote from British pop yore, the residents of the city-state are, at best, comfortably numb. Despite a per capita income of $33,530 (€ 26,000), an enviably low unemployment rate, and status as the richest country in the world by some measures, Singapore is the most emotionless society in the world, a recent Gallup poll shows."

The answer is clear when the report findings are combined.

1. Unemotional people do not feel unfairness.
2. Singaporeans are the most unemotional in the world.

Therefore, Singaporeans can tolerate the most unfairness.

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