Seminar to Discuss Contrasting Views on Macro- and Micro-Level Perspectives on Debt Problem in Singapore

10 February 2015

  1. The issue of household debt has been discussed in recent years, where economy-wide data suggests that debt is not a major or serious problem in Singapore. However, there seems to be a difference in opinion from institutions that deal directly with debtors, such as the Debt Advisory Centre (DAC) of the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP). The view is that the aggregated data that is publicly available might not give a true picture of the debt problem in Singapore, especially since it is widely opined that debt often has a larger social impact as it affects not just the debtor but also his family members and the community at large. In light of this, AMP, in collaboration with its research subsidiary, the Centre for Research on Islamic and Malay Affairs (RIMA), will be organising its annual Community in Review seminar this year to discuss the contrast in the macro- and micro-level perspectives on the severity of household debts. Themed “Debt: A Clear and Present ‘Danger’ to Society?”, the seminar will be held on Saturday 14 February 2015 at 9.45 am at Room 334, Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre (1 Raffles Boulevard, Suntec City).
  2. Gracing the event as Guest of Honour is Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.
  3. The seminar hopes to offer a platform to discuss if aggregated data that is available in the public sphere is sufficient to give an accurate assessment of the severity of household debt. The seminar hopes to uncover answers on whether there is an information gap at the national and household levels that could be critical in understanding the true nature of the problem and its social impact. The sharing of data and experiences from organisations working directly with debtors would be useful in helping participants understand the debt problem better as it takes into account the interactive complexity of the debt problem, and contributes towards a more holistic and thorough analysis of the issue.
  4. The seminar will comprise two panels to discuss both the macro and micro level perspectives of the debt problem. The first panel will discuss the macro-level perspective of the debt problem, and will feature two speakers – Asst Prof Walter Edgar Theseira, Assistant Professor with the Division of Economics at the Nanyang Technological University; and Prof Sumit Agarwal, Vice-Dean of Research and Low Tuck Kwong Professor at the National University of Singapore.
  5. The second panel, discussing the micro-level perspective of the issues, will feature three speakers – Mr Kuo How Nam, President of Credit Counselling Singapore; Mr Saiful Nizam Jemain, Assistant Manager of the Debt Advisory Centre at AMP; and Mr Christopher Chuah, President of One Hope Centre.
  6. This is the fifteenth year the Community in Review has been organised since its inception in 2001. The format of the seminar was enhanced in 2013 to take on an inter-ethnic, issue-oriented approach to discuss national issues that affect the Malay/Muslim community.