Monday, July 14, 2008

Response to Minister Gan on the Lowly-waged worker- A letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

Response to Acting MOM Minister Gan

I would like to respond to what Acting Manpower Minister has said in a recent interview with the local media (Growth slowing, but there will still be new jobs-ST July 10 2008) about the plight of the low-wage workers.

As he rightly said, job creation is “not just a numbers game”.

Let me suggest that it is about helping real Singaporeans find real jobs that can enable them make ends meet without having to work multiple part-time jobs or working a full-time job and yet having to ask for government handouts.

Wages at the bottom remained stagnant for past 10 years

It is clear that the present system is not working out for the Singaporean lowly-educated low-waged worker as a recent media report (Wages rose but not for those at the bottom ST 1 July 08) showed that the wages for this group had remained stagnant for the past 10 years! The lowly-skilled wages have entered a race to the bottom and if left alone will lead to further hopelessness and despondency for these Singaporeans.

These workers have the unenviable task of competing for lowly-skilled jobs with other lowly-skilled foreign workers. However these foreigners have the advantage of youth (and many of our lowly-skilled are middle-aged or older) and a currency exchange that is favorable to them. They can “bite the bullet” for a few years, earn $600-800/month, share a flat with many others and yet be able to repatriate reasonable amounts of money home making their journey here economically worthwhile.

Foreigners are positive for Singapore but…

I am not against foreigners. We are an immigrant people and I believe that having foreigners here has added diversity and vibrancy to many sectors of our society. I am happier still when they decide to permanently sink their roots here by taking up Singapore citizenship and help us make Singapore a better place.

Responsibility of government and my suggestions

However, it is the job of every government to take care of its own citizens first, especially those of the lower income strata.

May I humbly suggest:

1. Stricter enforcement of the local-foreign worker ratio to ensure that companies are not cheating?

2. Consider a Minimal Wage for certain sectors where locals may conceivably work in eg Service industry / F&B. We know Singaporeans will not work in construction.

3. Increase handouts for these Singaporeans in the forms of actual cash and not just into their CPF.

I know there is no perfect solution and each option has its problems, eg Minimal wages may sometimes lead to unemployment or inflation, but these Singaporeans need help and need it fast.

Singapore’s present success is built in no small measure on the backs of the Singaporean blue-collar worker. It is time they expect something in return. Singapore must help them, perhaps even at the expense of the economy.

We must leave no man behind!

Sincerely yours,

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

Link: MrBiao has written on this also (Singapore policy makers living in the clouds)

NB: Can some kind soul show me where to get the digital copy of Minister Gan's interview? I don't subscribe to the ST online. I will append it to the post and it will be more meaningful esply for those readers who have not read the interview.

PS: Not published


Anonymous said...

Don't waste your time Doc! The current Government has aleady lost touch with the ground.She is not listening. Just look at the recent ERP incease in time of rising inflation. This is definitely within her control!!

I have a feeling that GST will shoot to 10% in a not too distant future. Where on earth do you think Government will get $$ to fund Sweden way to increase no. of babies born every year.

Tewniaseng said...

GST will shoot up to 10% after next election for sure, not before election.This is the dirty tactic of pap !!

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon 11.39,
What else can I do?
Cannot protest or get arrested!
Cannot vote cos GRC sure lose!
So I can only try to write to the forum page to try to make them see reason right?
The rich can always migrate or just buy hyundai instead of BMW but the poor?
They already tighten their belts until no more belt holes already!
Can Reform party help us?
I think WP cannot!
CSJ already demonised and already will be forever bankrupt and will be attending court every week the rest of his life!
Tell me someone- what else can I do for the poor?

Anonymous said...

Not just GST shooting up, every other thing that they have put in place will be used to squeeze the last penny out of Singaporeans.

Taking care of poorer Singaporeans is the least of their priority. Accummulating more reserves and showing the world that we are capable of investing billions to help troubled foreign banks, thereby boosting our inflated ego is the priority. Doesn't matter to them if we loose tens of billions along the way. They do not have to account for that to the peasants or to anyone.

ERP, The MRT network, Hospitals etc, all potential revenue generating sources with ever increasing charges, will help to fatten the coffers of the government on the pretext of being privatised. And not only that, they are constantly planning to keep more and more of our CPF money in minimun sum and medisave, the ceilings of which we know will keep on rising.

SHIMURE said...

We can do nothing.

Voice of the people is not the moviation of the executives in ivory towers.

the rich will still have steak
whereas the poor will be steaked.......

AllTheWay said...

Thank you Doc for making the effort to write on behalf of those who have been left behind.

What you have written, reflected my sentiments. It is absolutely frustrating to deal with men in power who have little or no humanity. There is no excuse whatsoever because the money is there and much have been wasted on bad investments.

Don't give up hope and keep plugging away Doc. Your effort alone is a good example for the other citizens, especially those young men and women who are the future. Vote wisely and eventually some may rise into position to help run the country with heart.

Anonymous said...

we need to help the poor singaporeans. stop telling them they create their own problems or need to do something about their lives. they are poor because society makes them so. otherwise who wants to be poor ? most importantly, they are poor and they need our help! stop talking as if one is in ivory tower. for a start, be a servant leader and serve the people because they pay you alot.

boon hee said...

did they print your response to MOM Gan? he just keep on quoting the construction industry for rejecting minimum salary or controlling unbridled dubious foreign talents numbers.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi all:
shimure: Yes, like Marie Antoinette said, " No bread, let them eat cake!"

Alltheway:I think all of us feel for the poor, but sometimes we just look the other way cos if the govt don't want to help and expect charities to do their work, sooner of later also get donor-fatique!

anon 5.27: Servant leaders? you gotta be joking! Some of them could have started with good intentions but sooner or later they also learn to play the game. They just make sure they perform and say the right things when the Man is around.

Boon Hee: I just sent the letters on Sunday- I am hopeful that it will be printed by at least one or two of the papers! We need you to keep plugging at them too!

Onlooker said...

I have to disagree with some point so here goes:-
Wages at the bottom remained stagnant for past 10 years
By cutting their salary ever lesser to secure a job they need other means to survive thus petty theft increased. Eg. They try to save on transport by using bike but is the bike bought or "borrowed"?
Foreigners are positive for Singapore but..
Taking root aside, In the case of IT, a lot of securities hole have been introduced into systems that were properly (securely) built/ maintained by a local engineer before (Hint degrees cost 5000 to 15000 rupee in India. To be fair there are Chinese and Pinoy forgeries too.(some bought their MSCE too)).
ie low cost = low quality or even no quality.
But that aside the genuine ones are still minimally passable but the standard is not as high as I expected.And I had worked with really good ones based in USA/ Europe too.

Anonymous said...

I must agree with you. This is where the PAP has failed the people of Singapore - where all their promises were empty promises. It saddens me. I go to the heartlands and I see an old lady ordering packet rice. She asked for rice and just the Chicken sauce - cost -50 cents. Another time, another lady just asked for rice and toufu. If you want to know how the poor lives - just check out the neighbourhood economy rice stall and see what food they order. Sad

Anonymous said...

To all you young Singaporean out there; it's your future, not anyone else. If you choose to go along with current Ruler, stop your grumbling and mumbling. Price will definitely go up, as you all want the 1st class in everything. PAP ONLY know that 1st class, MUST be expensive. So the rich get richer, and the poor, poorer; will be same like our neighbours. If you want change, you must change first. Don't expect others' to die for you. WP, CSJ has done their part; what have you? Only grumble and mumbles ! And continue to complain no credible opposition. You become one, lah! PAP also start like that.Only now they become too arrogant, because thay are able to 'freeze' your tiny brain!

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Huang;

our calls and pleadings to our leaders have not yield the slightest result.

As proved by the latest rounds of costs increases, every opportunity for the Leadership to find reasons not to help will be exploited. The 30 cents surcharge to be implemented for taxi passengers is one clear example. It was said to give taxi drivers an average income of $9 dollars a day.

There are at least two ways to help the taxi drivers, one is to reduce the rental by $9 and two is to reduce diesel taxes for taxi and public/school buses(both increasing fare/fee soon).

There were many ideas on how the poor and weak could be helped by our leaders through policies and welfare system. All these years, there are many citizens making the calls, giving suggestions and even making political issues out of the plights of our poorer countrymen. BUT ALL TO NO AVAIL and worse, these weaker citizens are blamed ad accused of inabilities and inertia!

We may not be tired of fighting for the wellbeings of our people and our country, though fatique may set in. HOWEVER, the feeling of hopelessness and powerlessness can be crippling.

I am very touched and proud that professionals liked YOU have relentlessly and unselfishly give us your times and efforts to better our live. May I wish You a healthy and happy live of your own and your family!


SHIMURE said...

Well another reason for concern is even though the government may come up plans or subsidies for the poor or the unfortunate.

These subsidies require the poor to fill up lots of forms and wait for 2 to 3 weeks for the approval and have internet access or whether bureacratic complications which in the end, the poor or less informed fail to get any grant in the end.

Perhaps the government could set up a "i send you immediate aid because i know you are poor fund" instead of the poor trying to reach the government and saying "I am poor, please help me..."

It is easier for those on the top to see those on the bottom. yet it is always the fact the those on the top neglect to look down but aspire for higher sights.