A Nation Cheated

As usual, the pro-PAP govt national media, both print & broadcast, have been putting out glowing reports and messages from our gloriously expensive leaders on this labour day. I hope the following 3 items from 3 different political parties will be disseminated so that more and more people can read it. I’m just playing a small part in that dissemination process. 😉

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Source: Singapore Democratic Party

A NATION CHEATED
A Report on Poverty and Labour in Singapore 2007

Without the PAP, Lee Kuan Yew swears, our women folk would end up as domestic help in distant lands. So be thankful. In fact, be more than thankful. Be worshipful that we have national leaders who have brought us riches – and continue to do so.

Bunkum, many of you say. We may be grateful but we don’t have to be talked down to in such a manner even if it is by the Minister Mentor.

Maybe the MM was too blunt, the PAP admits, but at least the citizens are grateful, at least they should be, for all that the party has done for Singapore.

Bunkum, A Nation Cheated says. This latest SDP report written by Dr Chee Soon Juan punctures the propaganda that Singapore is well-served by the PAP.

Available in electronic format, this 72-page Report on poverty and labour in Singapore traces developments over the last 10 years since the Asian crisis in 1997, and provides evidence – hard, irrefutable evidence – that Singapore is ailing from failed PAP policies.

Unlike other emerging markets Singapore does not have an entrepreneurial class that can compete globally, continuing instead to rely on MNCs and inept GLCs. The emergence of a permanent underclass is a result of such an economic arrangement.

Experts, and there have been many of them, have repeatedly warned that without urgent reforms of the political and economic systems, Singapore’s economic situation will continue to deteriorate.

To be absolutely sure, the unprecedented level of poverty seen in this country is not the unintended by-product of globalization, as the PAP would have us believe. It is a creation from Lee’s eugenicist views:

“Free education and subsidised housing lead to a situation where the less economically productive people in the community are reproducing themselves at rates higher than the rest. This will increase the total population of less productive people. We must… take the first tentative steps towards correcting a trend which can leave our society with a large number of the physically, intellectually and culturally anaemic.”

One of his faithful ministers, the late S Rajaratnam, darkly promised: “We want to teach people the government is not a rich uncle. You get what you pay for. We are moving in the direction of making people pay for everything.”

Such attitude has produced a society with individuals like TT Durai with his avarice, Mrs Goh Chok Tong with her “peanuts” comment, Wee Shu Min with her repugnant diatribe against Derek Wee (and her father’s defence of her comments), and Lee Hsien Loong with his petulance that he and his ministers should not be expected to make “unnecessary financial sacrifices.”

A Nation Cheated pieces together an unmistakable picture of PAP’s failure. It tells the real story of how our enormous reserves have been accumulated through forced savings under the CPF scheme as well as through the sale of HDB flats. The slew of taxes and fees designed to maximise the extraction of funds from the people is another avenue.

More recently, however, economic growth has been sustained from illicit money laundered from foreigners. The explosive influx of migrants has also contributed much to the fattening of state coffers.

The question is: Is this kind of growth sustainable and how much damage is it inflicting on our society?

Perhaps the ultimate indicator of the failure of the PAP is that in the half-a-century of uninterrupted rule, it has failed to create a nation where Singaporeans are proud to be identified with. A 2007 survey of young Singaporeans revealed that more than half wanted to emigrate. A shocking 37 percent said they were not patriotic to this country.

For Singaporeans, this Report is a must read. It informs, it rebukes, it persuades. It is a call for us to awake from our fearful slumber.

For the foreign observer, it is an opportunity to be disabused of the notion that the Singapore Way is a model.

The sin is not in being ignorant, but in choosing to remain so.

Go here for details on how to purchase the report.

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Source: National Solidarity Party

Labour Day Message 2007

The National Solidarity Party (NSP) stands in solidarity with the workers in Singapore. We are strongly of the view that each and every Singapore workers has contributed tremendously and significantly to the building of this nation. We lament however the lack of sincere treatment by the PAP government towards the hands which toiled to keep Singapore afloat.

The clearest testimony of that affront is illustrated in the PAP government’s unabashed claim that the nation owes its billions in GDP to the “extraordinary” leadership of the PAP, and as such the PAP must necessarily be compensated with “extraordinary” escalating wages. While the GDP of Singapore has grown over the years, the salaries of many Singapore workers have proportionately stagnated, seen tokenish improvement, or sadly even regressed.

Singapore workers have been mercilessly pounded by salvoes of undignified government measures such as non-negotiable hikes in GST, property tax, utility charges, public transport fares, postage cost, medical fees, education costs, and even PAP town councils fees. The PAP government does not pause for an empathising moment from inflicting punishing measures on the workers.

We are painfully concerned that many workers are now unable to accumulate sufficient savings to contemplate a decent retirement at old age, or to meet their medical expenditures. We are equally disturbed that the PAP’s more liberal policy on foreign workers has seen a collapse in salary floor for the lower-income workers. This trend is now rapidly infecting the middle-income workers caught in a hard squeeze of facing cheaper foreign competition and higher cost of living while receiving lesser state subsidies.

It is all the more deplorable that the PAP government now decides to prescribe the “bitter medicine” of urging workers to “work for as long as he can”, and to completely forgo the concept of retirement. It is also painful to see workers, especially those who have lost their jobs through the sordid government policies, literally begging for an increase in state assistance, only to be seen as a liability by the PAP government who wastes no time dismissing the pleas as one stemming from a “crutch mentality”.

The NSP is disappointed that Singapore workers are unable to enjoy the fruit of their 40-years of labour, needing to practically ‘work to their graves’. And to aggravate matters, the workers’ unions in Singapore have evolved from one amplifying the muffled cries of concerns of the workers, to one serving as a mere communication-bridge to disseminate and persuade workers to accept debatable government labour policies.

Nevertheless, the NSP is optimistic that Singapore workers will be steadfast in their quest to seek a fairer alternative for themselves and their future generations. We are hopeful that the Singapore workers will one day regain the sense of respectability and purpose that is enshrined in the original spirit of Labour Day.

We wish all Singapore workers peace and hope.

Central Executive Council
National Solidarity Party

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Source: Workers Party

Labour Day Message 2007

On Labour Day, we celebrate the contributions of working men and women. It is fitting that we should pay them tribute for it is by the sweat of their brow that workers have raised families, built enterprises and contributed to society. They have overcome great difficulties these past few years and done well. They had tried recommendations such as retraining and changing mindsets, to improve their relevance in the work place. On this day, we also want to remember the estimated 69,600 residents unemployed as of Dec 06. Their fates and those of their families must not be forgotten.

In Singapore this year, Labour Day falls about a year after the conduct of GE2006. As such, it is also fitting that we should take a moment to consider the government policies of the past year and their impact on the Singapore worker.

The year since GE2006 the workers have seen an increase in GST, an increase in public transport cost, and increases in hospital and polyclinic charges. The government appears to be considering means testing as a guide for payment at government hospitals, even though they indicated otherwise during GE2006.

The one comfort offered to workers was the Workfare scheme, which the Workers’ Party applauds. Unfortunately the government introduced an increase in GST to justify funding Workfare. The Workers’ Party is against this increase in GST because the government should have sufficient increase in revenue as projected in the Budget to fund Workfare.

Against this backdrop, the economy has registered good GDP growth, unemployment has fallen and the property market appears buoyant. However there are large segments of workers whose incomes are not keeping pace with the economic growth. The Workers’ Party is concerned with the growing income and value divide between the ruling elite and Singaporeans. The Workers’ Party has spoken against the Ministers’ proposed large pay increases in Parliament. While we constantly see glowing economic charts and indicators, the question is whether this economic growth trickles down to Singaporeans. Are Singaporeans indeed better off in their daily lives? How secure are our jobs and how secure are our children’s futures. Does Singapore still belong to Singaporeans, or have we all become guest workers whose only ties to the state are material?

During GE2006, the Workers’ Party urged the government to consider policies to improve the ability of workers to adapt to the vagaries of the world economy. These included revisions to the conduct of Trade Unions, the Employment Act and the management of CPF for better returns. We are happy to note that the government is reviewing the CPF investment schemes to achieve better returns. The Workers’ Party strongly believes that CPF should not be used as a tool to respond to economic downturns. The CPF should remain true to its original concept – as the retirement nest egg for workers. Workers have suffered reductions in CPF in contribution to the restructuring of our economy. The Workers’ Party noted that the CPF rates have not been restored to pre 2003 recession levels.

Despite all the challenges and constraints, Singaporean workers have not lost their work ethic and fighting spirit. The Workers’ Party will continue to be vigilant about workers’ rights and reflect their aspirations and concerns.

The Workers’ Party wishes all workers a Happy May Day.

Eric Tan
Treasurer