Singapore’s Ambassador-at-large Dr Tommy Koh contended that Singapore’s practice of importing large numbers of cheap and unskilled labour has depressed wages in its service and non-tradable sectors.
He further noted that construction workers in Hong Kong are twice as productive as those in Singapore, and receive two-and-a-half times the income earned here.
Dr Koh was speaking on Thur (3 May) at a roundtable discussion on Singapore’s population trends at the Institute of Policy Study (IPS).
Dr Tommy Koh was not alone in expressing this view. His view also echoed those expressed by IPS senior adjunct fellow Yeoh Lam Kheong and LKY School of Public Policy dean Kishore Mahbubani earlier. Both Yeoh and Mahbubani have called for a refinement of the import of new citizens and PRs to target more skilled labour.
On wage gap issue, Dr Koh spoke of Prof Lim Chong Yah’s wage shock proposal as one of the three existing ways to narrow the income gap. However, while he did not agree with Prof Lim’s proposal, he agreed with the Prof Lim’s aim.
He said that the wage gap issue needed to be addressed “not through palliatives but by seeing what we can do to fundamentally alter the wages of the bottom 30 per cent of our people”.
He did not agree that the income gap is “part of globalisation and technological change”.
PAP had, in the decades passed, allowed the overall cost of doing business to increase directly through their adopted social economic policies. They did that in the name of gaining prosperity for Singapore.
Cost components such as transport (COE for cars, lorries, fuel tax, road tax, ERP etc); rentals of business premises such as office and warehouse; private condos prices and accommodation and power and electricity have all been increased to the level of being uncompetitive amoung ASEAN countries.
There is no way that PAP will allow LTA’s humongous tax revenue to be reduced. There’s no way that PAP will allow PUB’s revenue to be reduced by lowering power and electricity charges. There’s no way that PAP will ever let the labour ministry’s revenue be lowered by reducing domestic maid levies to facilitate young married couples to better cope with career and raising children. So please stop telling our young to have more children because it is just IMPOSSIBLE.
The fact that most of the cost increases are man-made and is linked to GLC’s income, the only way Singapore can still remain competitive, in the eyes of the PAP, is to disallow rational increase in wages for the low and middle income group, this include fresh graduates. This scenario has been allowed to persist without much notice until recent years. It is simply a trade off for a political agenda.
PAP only cares about how to grow the coffers of the GLCs and their tax revenue. Wage improvement of the low and middle income common Singaporean is the last thing they really care about. Singapore remains one of the very few countries in the world yet to implement minimum wage.
The choice of benefitting businesses over the well being of our less fortunate citizens tells plenty about the mindset of our labour policy maker – one with the smallest of heart for his people. When he enjoys the sight of his swelling bank account every end of the month he obviously does not spare a thought at all about the less fortunate Singaporean who have to support a family with SGD1200 or less a month, or the young graduate who is still stuck with SGD2500 to 3500 monthly salary 5 or more years after graduation.
Like the frog in a pot of water that’s gradually and slowly heating up, it won’t feel the distress and pain until it’s too late.
A country is like the growing up and maturing of a person, he who refuses to heed the wisdom of sincere advice and opinion is doomed to failure. It’s a sin for us, the concerned citizens and patriots, not to point out the dangers ahead.
PAP simply cares only for holding on to power and wealth.
You can mess around with my research, deny me fundings and try all kinds of nonsense, but time is not on your side, by end 2012, the entire state of affairs in Singapore will be in a big mess, and nobody will know how to solve it, except me, and with the “special” treatment you gave me, I am just returnng you the favour, better pray to God for help.
– Contributed by Oogle.