Cheaper Better Faster: Companies continue to exploit workers

According to the latest wages report by state-controlled media Channel News Asia[Source], Singapore employers have largely ignored the National Wages Council’s call for wage increase for low income workers. In 2012, the NWC recommended a $50 wage increase for low income workers earning $1000 and below. However, 70% of the non-unionized companies and 20% of the unionized companies ignored NWC’s call for the wage increase. Despite such terrible outreach of the NWC’s call for a mere $50 wage increase, the president of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) could shamelessly praise that the embarrassing figures was a “good start”:

“Overall I think as the first year, (at) 30 per cent, I’m encouraged. This 30 per cent is up to December and different companies give wage increases at different times… I would expect some progress, perhaps by now, 40 per cent? It may not be a big jump but there may be incremental adjustments. I think it’s a good start.”
~Stephen Lim, president of SNEF

NWC’s parent organization, the National Trade Union Congress, is the only approved trade union in Singapore. Under the PAP, no private trade union is allowed to prevent employees from taking industrial actions like staging a protest. Henceforth, employers in Singapore trampled employee rights in Singapore with absurd self-made human resource practices like fining an employee $1 for every minute late [Source]. Especially in the private sector, where most of the employers are non-unionized Small and Medium Enterprises(SMEs) in the retail sector, rouge employment practices are rampant. Many foreign workers in Singapore are exploited and threatened with deportation if they dare report unfair employment practices like working overtime without getting paid or given a 72 hours work week.

A former retail assistant from Myanmar, G, spoke to The Real Singapore reporter, Alex Tan, over her employment conditions in a retail chain shop, Times Fashion [Link], in Bugis Street:

G: “Most of the retail staffs here in Bugis Street work 12 hours a day for 6 days, from 10am to 10pm. We are not paid extras on public holidays and our meal times is only 15 minutes.”

G’s employers are Malaysian citizens and are Permanent Residents living in Singapore. G also does not have her employment contract she signed because her employers told her she does not need to hold one. Despite being a S-pass holder and mandated by law to be paid a minimum of $2000, she has to pay her employer $800 in cash every month after a $2000 bank in to falsify income statements should there be an investigation by the Ministry of Manpower.

When asked why didn’t she report her employer to the MOM, G said: “It is like this for everyone here working in Bugis Street, and if I report, I will be sent back”

Foreign workers form the bulk of low income workers who are not aware of their employment rights in Singapore. They are often exploited by unscrupulous employers for long working hours with depressed salaries. As NTUC is a PAP-controlled workers union whose Secretary-General is a Minister of State sitting in the Prime Minister’s Office collecting more than a million dollars every year, employment rights are non-existent for low income workers.

Employers in Singapore have always demanded cheap foreign labor to push up their profits and the PAP government could only pander to their demands like an obedient dog. For the period of 2007 to 2012, Singapore sees a 47.5% jump in foreign workforce excluding domestic helpers [Source]. Today, the PAP government is telling Singaporeans to prepare for a 6.9 million population through a Population White Paper passed through by 79 PAP MPs in a Parliament of 87 elected MPs. Singaporeans have since staged two protests against the Population White Paper and voted the PAP out of power in 2 of the by-elections in Hougang and Punggol East(vacated by a former adulterous PAP MP Michael Palmer).

Unfortunately, the PAP government is importing up to 25,000 new citizens every year [Source], totaling to about more than 100,000 new citizens votes by 2016. New citizens are highly supportive of the PAP regime and its authoritative ways because they do not need to serve National Service and get to enjoy the fruits of labor put forth by hardworking Singaporeans. One such example is Li Ye Ming, a China-born new citizen who lambasted the Workers’ Party MP Low Thia Kiang for fanning xenophobic sentiments in Parliament. Due to the audacious number of new citizens coming every year, Singaporeans will no longer be able to vote the PAP government out of power by 2016 even if they want to.

By The Real Singapore

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Rising cost of living in Singapore: who is to blame?

stats cpi

Based on the latest statistics from Singstat [Source], Singapore’s consumer price index(CPI) has continued its general upward trend in all aspects today by about 5.5% higher than it was during GE2011 in May 2011. Leading the CPI increases are Transport, Housing, Food and Healthcare, to which the PAP have failed to reign on soaring prices even when the Sing dollar has appreciated.

The increasing cost of living in Singapore has been a key cause of concern for most Singaporeans who are finding it increasingly hard to survive on the backdrop of dropping wages brought upon the PAP’s policy to increase its voters base. Recently, the PAP tried to manage cost increase by introducing a series of cooling measures in Transport and Housing. However, none of the new government policies worked out with property prices still increasing [Source] and COE prices remaining unaffordable to the average Singaporean.

It is apparent that the cost of living in Singapore will continue to increase because of the increase in domestic demand from an increasing population. The influx of new citizens, Permanent Residents and Foreigners are pushing prices higher to the point where Singaporeans are seeing a dip in their quality of life. The middle class and the low income families are the hardest hit, aside from having a free flow of cheap foreign labor to depress their salary growth over the last 5 years [Source], most Singaporeans are putting off saving, retirement planning and family planning due to the relentless rise in cost of living [Source]. Having grown disillusioned with the PAP’s empty promises to keep costs low, Singaporeans are turning to the electoral polls to reflect their unhappiness with the PAP’s incompetency to get anything done. In the recent by-election in Punggol East, the PAP candidate was humiliated with a record low 43.71% result in the PAP’s incumbent ward.

Knowing that the younger generations of Singaporeans are growing increasingly frustrated with the ruling party, the PAP reacted by mass importing over 1 million foreigners over the period from 2003 to to 2013, and invite them to become new citizens. Newly imported citizens are widely known to be very supportive of the PAP government because they are given immunity to National Service conscription and the rights to enjoy all benefits.

Some 18,500 new citizens are sworn in each year [Source], with the majority coming from China because of the PAP’s unspoken ethnic quota to maintain the Chinese population at more than 75% each year. As foreigners are given citizenship hastily, most of them do not integrate with true blue Singaporeans, and they prefer to mix and form social conclaves with their own kind. One such new citizen from China, Li Ye Ming [Link], is widely known to speak only Chinese and maintains a forum that interacts only with the Chinese-speaking [Source]. Showing typical traits of a new citizen, Li Ye Ming is also widely known to criticize Singapore’s Opposition with his latest accusation in the state-controlled mainstream media Zaobao on Workers’ Party’s Low Thia Kiang that the latter was fanning xenophobic sentiments in Parliament. Despite many Singaporeans’ unhappiness with new citizens like Li Ye Ming and their desire to strip the ingrate of his citizenship, they can only complain on independent news sites like The Real Singapore.

However, online press independence will soon be a thing of the past as the PAP government is preparing for GE2016 by starting to introduce a series of censorship against online news sites. Minister of Propaganda(MICA), Yaacob, who was earlier fired for his incompetency as the Environment and Water Resources Minister, have passed a law to regulate news sites with local content. It remains surprising how did Yaacob manage to pass the law without raising a motion in Parliament, and also in a short notice of only less than 5 days. News sites that posts Singapore news will need to pay a $50,000 “performance” bond and shall remove any posting that the Media Development Authority(MDA) is disapproval of.

By The Real Singapore

Statement to the MDA

To Minister Yaacob and MDA:

We are glad to hear that you have come to terms that the online practitioners(or whatever fanciful terms the Institute of Policy Studies would like to call us) will not subject themselves to a Code of Conduct as you have previously advocated in November 2011 [Source]. And indeed, you have stopped asking for a Code of Conduct and instead cut to the chase of your real aim: Media Oppression.

You have started by trying to be a little more subtle about it. by only targeting the state media and Yahoo! But it’s easy to see through the plot at the ultimate aim of controlling all influential online media.

Of course, the fact remains the Internet cannot be regulated no matter how unhappy you are with criticisms online, or whatever silly regulations you are coming out with. We anonymous writers always have our ways of working around your silly rules. Our intentions of writing to you here is not only to tell you what a child’s play your regulation is, but the real implications for enforcing such a dictatorial ruling.

Implications on the PAP

Perhaps this is all about efficiency, the efficiency for political domination. We do note this totalitarian decision could still go well in your textbooks so long any of your overpaid Ministers could front another hypocritical classic: “Doing the right thing more important than winning votes” [Source]

Perhaps you have been influenced and frightened by the Malaysian Election, where the Opposition won past the 50% popular vote for the first time in history. Who in PAP wouldn’t be? What kind of job in the private sector do you think a PAP Minister, say Lim Swee Say, would get for his atrocious language and incompetency? This fear of the loss of power is very real, but you have let fear possessed you to make a befuddled and hasty decision.

Last time we checked Singapore is still a democracy, but why is the rule – which is poised to take effect in less than 5 days – not tabled as a motion by any of the Member of Parliament? Please specify what other regulations that the PAP government could implement in less than 5 days without going through the Parliament’s approval. You may want to abolish the Parliament and convert all laws to be personal directives from the Prime Minister. The PAP ideology seems to have surpassed both Democracy and Communism because both systems enforce laws only through a motion tabled by a committee.

Today, you have successfully proven your critics correct that Singapore is not a democracy. The world news is not going to be kind on you – oh of course you wouldn’t give a damn – but what we do know is that

1) Governments and human rights organizations in free countries like the EU, US and Australia are taking notes
2) International surveys, statistics and rankings are going to embarrass you further
3) Your critics have gained credibility
4) You are going to lose more seats in Parliament

If there is an opinion poll today, your popularity surely would have inched a notch lower. Any decent person can see the political motivation stamped all over the ruling. Your propaganda mouthpiece can only do so much. Although the PAP is already a sinking ship, you have hasten your death. The decision is short sighted, ad hoc fire fighting and obviously an expired manner of governance outdated in today’s context. It is apparent you are not leaders, who have the foresight to envisage the kind of Singapore we should be having.

You can rest assured you will fail in your attempt to suppress the media. We will also take this opportunity to call for more online users to go anonymous. We will prove to you silencing the critics will not work, and we will continue to ensure you will be voted out in 2016.

 

TRS Chief Editor Nat Xela

Lim Swee Say champions for employers…again

In light of a possible move to enact Singapore’s first set of anti-discrimination laws, the PAP-controlled workers’ union chief Lim Swee Say made an audacious call for the law to benefit employers. Citing worries about a rigid labor market for employers, the PAP Minister hoped that the anti-discrimination laws will not be “too tight”.

Despite being appointed the chief of Singapore’s only workers’ union, Lim Swee Say have not spoken up for Singapore workers and have in turn on several occasions championed for employers. Here are a few instances why the workers’ union chief is just a clown paid in millions:

1) In 2008, Lim Swee Say supported having more foreign labor [Source]

2) In 2009, Lim Swee Say called for a cheaper workforce [Source]

3) In 2013, Lim Swee Say object to Minimum Wage [Source]

4) In 2013, Lim Swee Say supports the PAP Government to condemn SMRT strikes and deem them “illegal” [Source]

Where in this world do you have an anti-workers unionist? If the job description of a union chief is to be a lapdog, could the PAP government at least keep it cheaper by not having Singaporeans to pay $1.24 million a year for the idiot with a position of a M4-grade Minister?

Lim Swee Say’s incompetency is far-fetched to the point where he cannot even string together a cohesive sentence both in English and Chinese, let alone having the capability and flair the likes of Chen Show Mao and Sylvia Lim to weigh and debate employment policies and the national direction. Some may say that Lim Swee Say could be sleeping on his job as a unionist where income inequality spiralled out of control, but when his job is to parrot the PAP and functions as a propaganda signal repeater, he is indeed doing a fantastic job. In fact, Lim Swee Say could have served Singapore better by not disgracing Singaporeans on the international platform with self-coined terms like “betterer”.

Who is dumber? The fool or the followers of the fool?
It is amazing how a whopping 54.8% of the Singaporeans in East Coast GRC prefer a minion over the Workers’ Party team which consisted of today’s Hougang MP Png Eng Huat.

While Lim Swee Say is of course more responsible than others for the lack of workers representation in Singapore, the truly guilty need not look further than into the mirror. PAP voters in East Coast GRC have either voted selfishly or ignorantly of the implications and consequences of fellow Singaporeans. For every employment-related issues with regulations, from the lack of a work-life balance to the depression of salaries, the PAP voters are responsible for all this.

The real solution: Converting PAP voters
Let’s not point our fingers at the incompetent PAP leaders for their poor leadership, but rather at the festering ignorance of the PAP supporters propagating a senseless society dangerously in the hands of an expired leadership basking in old glories. The real battle for Singaporeans is the one against the majority who have voted the PAP into power. If statistics and trends have its way, the PAP is all likely to be voted into power again by 2016. A repeat disaster of the several 5 years Singaporeans had with the PAP.

Singaporeans could go soft again, offering the PAP government another chance to redeem themselves. Probably another apology from the Prime Minister or from all of the Ministers again – what surprising shameless antics would they not resort to given how many hypocrites have already shed tears “for the people” before election day. The question remains if Singaporeans can afford the price of entrusting their future with another good dose of poor and incompetent leadership.

We are living in 2013 today, but I do not foresee the PAP going out of power by 2016. Despite all the inconvenience and worsening conditions of Singapore, the ground is not bitter enough. The recent population protest is in the right direction but the PAP voters amongst us are still not uncomfortable enough to change. Their obstinacy are uncanny that of sheeps in a slaughterhouse, except for the fact we will all be killed.

Alex Tan
Co-editor of Wiki Temasek

Lie #1: Singapore has no natural resources

OTHER countries have natural resources like petrol, gas, rubber, tin, gold, timber and other products.

Singapore has no natural resources. Yet, for the last 50 years, it has made progress that is envied by many nations. This is possible because of the Government’s wise policies and our people…
~B.H. Melwani
Straits Times [Source]

 

#1 Fabrication By the PAP: Singapore has no natural resources and was only a fishing village before PAP came to power
Fact: Like Hongkong, Singapore was a crown colony of the Britain from 1867 to 1942 [Source]. Singapore’s only natural resource – its strategic location – made it into the world’s busiest sea port, a gateway to South-East Asia and an ideal location for multi-national companies to base their headquarters for expansion into the region. Since the 1870s, Singapore has been thriving as a trading port between China and Europe.

Singapore’s infrastructures were built by the British, equipped with what was then-considered advanced telecommunication lines, power and a water provision system. High rise buildings for residential and commence were built as early as 1900, and shopping malls were available in Singapore as early as 1950. The judiciary system, police, tax authority and mainstream media dated back to as old as 1870. Below is a video of Singapore in the 1938:

The fact remains that the PAP was merely handed over a functional city by the British, and has merely maintained peace and security to catalyze Singapore’s development. PAP supporters are largely ignorant of the development prior to Independence, which blinded them oblivious to the poor state of affairs Singapore is in today.

The constant reminder that Singapore has no natural resources is to upkeep a siege mentality on Singaporeans, reminding them they have to work hard for a living – a key attribute to Singapore’s success today. This threat in context is of good intentions, however as seen in the past decade under PM Lee Hsien Loong’s leadership, such hard striving attribute of Singaporeans have been exploited by the PAP to shore up profits of privatized national assets and monopolies.

Best performing Opposition MP: Lina Chiam

Despite having voted out by Potong Pasir residents, NCMP Lina Chiam is by far the best Opposition MP to have represented Singaporeans in Parliament. The wife of the Opposition longest serving MP, Chiam See Tong, was initially stoned upon when she stood for candidancy in Potong Pasir. Unkind remarks like “clueless auntie” and “novice politician” were hurled from both the PAP and some of the Opposition supporters. Today, 2 years after the election, she is leading the battle against the 79 PAP yes-men who are getting indefensible from her well-crafted astuity. Here are some of the excerpts of her best speeches in Parliament:

1) On Income Tax:
“The rich are getting richer; the middle income and poor are getting poorer. We should rethink income tax policy for the highest earners, for the top 5 percent. It should be compulsory for foreign earners in Singapore to pay for capital gains tax.”

2) On the CPF:
“The CPF scheme takes up a sizeable portion of the income of people with lower income, forcing them to consume less in the short term…The Government should not retain a person’s CPF money in the inheritor’s CPF Account in the first place. It should be paid out in cash to the recipients and nominees.”

3) On foreign worker quota:
“Remove levies. Levies only increase the cost of doing business, and this cost is passed on to the end consumer. Instead we shoudl rely on the minimum dependency ratios to control the foreign work population”

4) On Ministerial Salaries:
“If the Government;s decision is still to match Ministerial pay to the top earners in the private sector, then their accountability measures and KPIs must also match the vigour of the private sector.”

5) On the former Johor Minister campaigning in Singapore:
“Why is the former Johor Menteri Besar was allowed to conduct election campaigning activities on 2 May, in the midst of the Malaysian general election?”

6) On the Ministry of National Development’s findings over AIM:
“The Town Council Act is not well drafted… The Act must be better revised to address public concerns over conflict of interest issue, including political interests and criteria for the award for tenders ”
“How can the Review Report said that there is no conflict of interest in the AIM transaction, simply because “no one made money?””

7) On the Population White Paper:
“We are also deeply disappointed at the white paper which, as one public policy academic pointed out, did not even contain a References section to show what research the writers of the paper had done, or the methodology employed.[1] In fact, the only citations we found in this white paper prepared by the National Population and Talent Division, were 7 of their own papers and briefs. Talk about cyclical reasoning.”

Comparing Lina Chiam to Potong Pasir’s Seetoh Yih Pin, what have PAP voters in Potong Pasir done? True to the fact that the estate got their long awaited upgradings, but they have lost the Singaporean integrity and almost lost a good voice for the people in Parliament.