May Day May Day! New vision desperately needed!

This is not gonna be a long article. Neither is it gonna be a well-thought out one. It may even be just a rant, which it truly might be.

After listening to the PM’s May Day message, and the words and reactions from the union chief, union leaders, business leaders, MPs and just about everyone from that distant but tall Ivory Tower – all of whom locked arms, danced and sang the same tune of denying and rejecting calls from the lowly folks for higher or better pay, one even called this “dangerous” – wages do not seem to be the only thing that is stagnant in Singapore.

We have such a woeful lack of vision from our leaders, especially the prime minister. On a day which is significant to workers who undoubtedly are looking for some kind of torch to light the path forward, we have leaders giving all sorts of excuses and explanations on why higher wages is a no-no – not unless you pull up your socks and sweat it out more. Euphemistically, it is called “being more productive”.

It is unbelievable that we’re actually going back to the 1970s when Teamy the productivity bee was buzzing around. Talk about progress – and deja vu!

I am tired of the lack of vision, the lack of courage to see things anew, to change the old, to discard that which is not working. Where is the courage to think anew? To carve a new path, to light a way through the mist?

We are still stuck in the same old mindset. Status quo.

After the GE last year, one might or would have thought that the ruling party has received the message loud and clear. Yet, here we are – being dished the same message. “We will take care of the low income!” A message I have heard for more than a decade – which is also the same length of time the low income’s wages have been stagnant.

At the end of the day, however, governments don’t change – unless the people push it to. And I am afraid that the little hope that I had, after the GE, of the government having more courage and to set a new path into the future, is quickly dissipating.

What is this road on which we are suppose to continue to tread? Where does it lead to?

We need a new leadership, one which is courageous, which is inspiring, which we can hold on to.

Be more productive?

The government’s plan is to raise productivity by 3 per cent a year for the next 10 years.

They also hope to raise wages by 30 per cent over the next 10 years.

If you’re earning S$1,000 today, the government hope you will be earning S$1,300 in 2022.

But of course, you must be more productive.

I guess you could sweep a few more roads, or clean a few more tables, or work a few more hours, or learn a new skill, or whatever…

This is what they call being in the rat race.

Our lives must be more than just running in circles on the wheel.

Sigh… This lack of vision from our leaders is appalling.

But I’m not surprised.

Ok, ranting over.


11 thoughts on “May Day May Day! New vision desperately needed!

  1. I can co-rant with you on this Andrew. Like you I was hopeful (still trying to be) that the government will show us more visionary thinking and blaze a new path for our country. But sadly all we seem to be hearing post GE2011 is a lot of defending of their policies and a lot of sweet talking that they are listening and will do something. The time for spin and sweet talk (and BS) is over. They really need to buck up go, get in touch with reality (yes that includes DPM Tharman who said average folks are not affected by the sharp inflation), talk to talented people out of their own circle who have fresh ideas who can really bring about positive changes, and be brave enough to forge ahead with changes even if it upsets one larger than life puppet master. We are getting very weary of their recycled rhetoric. Just go do something right!

    1. I have lost much goodwill and respect for Tharman since his examples of the amount a atypical low income household can get insidises over a lifetime and how they can afford to buy an HDB flat. Now he further tars himself through his mind boggling reasoning of how majority of Singaporeans who are flat owners and not current car buyers will not be affected by the high inflation. Tell that to the car owners when they renew their COE (last I read there are 44 cars per 100 households). Tell current and future generations of Singaporeans that HDB flats remain affordable. Tell the electorate when the effects of inflation filter through the whole economy. Sigh.

  2. 1. you believed their election promise? 10 yrs after their assurance to take care of the lower income was given, during which nothing was done and things got worse, you Still believed their promise?
    2. your hopes that something will be done are only Just dissisipating, one year later?
    3. you are aware that the goal in 2022 – 10 years away, when costs will be much higher, as costs Never drop here – is a salary of $1,300, and that this is 40% lower than what lim chong yah is suggesting is needed Now? you are aware that even if one looks at it cumulatively, ie 3% more of 100+3% now, and then another 3% more of that sum the following year, and so on, that the eventual sum will still be insultingly short of what is needed to survive Now?
    4. you think that being paid 1% more for every 1% increase in productivity, which should translate into a helluva lot more profits for ta company, is a fair and reasonable deal/exchange?
    5. you believe that the govt will actually manage to raise productivity and wages as promised when one yr after the promise was made, it has offered no plan for how it will do so? has productivity gone up 3% in the last year? if so, have wages gone up 3%? and if they have, this amount will actually help the worker keep up with inflation?
    6. you reckon the govt will actually keep its promises on this when it hasn’t so far?
    7. do you really believe that productivity falls on only the worker, as is being touted? that management and managers do not need to set the direction, the pace etc, and offer inspiration, guidance and such? and that despite not doing their job as managers it is perfectly ok to pay this lot of incompetents yet more, as is the status quo? and that the extra sum that will be paid them, which works out to much larger than the piddling amount you pay low-wage workers, will not raise costs further and will not cause any inflation, which is what is being implied in govt pronouncements?

    plse do consider some adult reading, rather than sticking to govt fairy tales. otherwise, soon you could soon find yourself warning of mass migration of foreigners to economies which are doing far worse than ours, where the infrastructure is worse, where safety levels on the streets, healthcare and education dont measure up to ours, and which simply dont offer the opportunities, advantages and connectivity of this island. and all because we threw these high earners the same crumbs in wage hikes or stagnated their pay, or asked them to prove – through increased productivity of course – that they actually deserve larger salaries, which is what our low-paid workers face.

  3. Is raising wages the only way to help the lower-income group? Please take a step back and look at the multiple streams of income that the poor is getting i.e. Workfare, GST vouchers etc. Is it possible that the government has decided to pursue wealth redistribution instead?

    1. That would be incongruent with this government’s stand of no welfare state and avoidance of giving handouts that breed a crutch mentality, no? What break a man’s leg and then give him crutches?

      Why the obsession on keeping costs low through low wages? What about high land prices and rents of which the government is a major player and cause through its ministries, statutory boards and GLCs? To reap high revenue and squeeze businesses and thus the workers and citizens and then channel back scraps in the form of workfare to show that this government cares for its electorate?

    2. And how much do these multiple streams of handouts add to a low income household per month?

      Oh wait, they stand to get up to half a million dollars worth in their lifetime? And that would be more than what one can earn in a lifetime based on a monthly income of $1000 over 40 years! Wow what generosity!

      They have it good since they can also afford to buy their own home, so say the Finance Minister. So what are we complaining about?

    3. “Please take a step back and look at the multiple streams of income that the poor is getting i.e. Workfare, GST vouchers etc. ”

      Let me ask if you yourself rather prefer workfare, GST vouchers than to have a better living monthly salary ? You think workfare and gst vouchers come monthly come often ? and you think that these are not given due to political agenda ?

  4. In our quest to build a knowledge based economy, we import tons of unskilled and lowly skilled workers from less developed countries. Instead of creating value and carving new niches of growth, we compete to provide (not necessarily) first world goods and services at third world prices.

    We have nice sounding sound bites such as the government will (always) place priority on Singaporeans and uplift the poor through inclusive growth blah blah blah. The truth is this government’s report card is an F. Never mind the pledges by the National Unions. It is evidently insane to expect different and better results by doing the same thing in the same way. Cheaper better faster. Increase productivity? What ever happened to our first rate workforce and productivity over the past decade? Inclusive growth? What’s the real or even nominal income “growth” for our lower income groups? Or for that matter our middle class. Squeezed in the jaws of high inflation and declining or stagnant income growth. Increasingly ostracized by employers who look to lower waged foreigners. Can be done? Last I recalled the PM’s remark was “what to do. It’s happened. Let’s move on.” the transport minister’s “unavoidable” train disruptions.

    Systemic failures are surfacing at an increasing frequency. The time lag between policy formulation, their implementation and consequent feedback is over. Reap what we sow. This country has had bad leadership and is on autopilot for too long.

  5. What evidence have we seen or heard from the PAP ministers that Prof Lim’s suggestion to lift the lower income workers’ wages will not work?

    What concrete plans have they put forth to improve the wages and plight of lower income Singaporeans? Motherhood statements, sound bites and more of the same.

    If training and retraining will be effective this time round, we sure didn’t feel it over the past decade. Have we moved up the value chain in the face of increased competition from China and India? Are we still on par with the other three tiger economies? What world class companies do we have to boast about?

  6. Who says PAP needs a new vision? Their vision is working fine for them, and they are just not sharing that with ordinary Singaporeans.

    Theirs is to build a truly rich man’s island, where ordinary Singaporeans are skilfully milked by the ruling elites from cradle to death. Suppressed politically and enslaved econmically (by the double knot of housing and living costs), these natives are deemed highly dispensable and easily replaceable with foreign nationals.

    See Arab Spring. Take a leaf from these oppressed peoples. All of us need to take action today to preempt this country from going down the same path. Peace!

  7. Anyone with hopes for wages to be raised can wait long long. The Labour Chief already said the pre-requisite is to raise productivity first, otherwise very dangerous. And to him, productivity means better, faster and CHEAPER. What is he expecting ? The old uncle / aunty cleaning 20 tabels at the hawker centre instead of 10 ? Raising workers’ wages, and making them cheaper are mutually exclusive. How can you ever be CHEAPER if your wages are raised ?

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