An annoying ministerial boilerplate remark

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 13/01/2012 at 5:35 am

It was reported by CNA that DPM Teo Chee Hean (one of the better ministers in my view) “said the government’s focus is on ensuring that Singapore remains the best home for all Singaporeans.

‘Beyond developing an attractive living environment and a thriving economy which sustains good jobs for its citizens, Singapore also needs to strengthen the bonds that Singaporeans have with one another and with the country.”

My bitch is about “good jobs for its citizens”. If anything the government has attempted to “developing an attractive living environment and a thriving economy” by making it difficult for the wages of citizens to rise despite rising housing prices and cost of living expenses. It does this via its “FTs are most welcomed” policy, which keeps wage costs down. To be fair, the FT policy also helps keep property prices up. See next posting.

It is a fact that FT HR employees aggressively pitch to the employers, the merits of their compatriots. I know a manager in an MNC wanting to employ a S’pore-trained lawyer, being sent nothing but the CVs of Filipino-trained  lawyers by his, you guessed it, Filipino FT HR manager.

Even though it has now promised to moderate this policy, it has not changed its views on the importance of this policy. Hence its constant ministerial refrain that less FTs means less GDP growth and less jobs for S’poreans. And the constructive, nation building media and academics from SMU keep on harping on the unhappiness of employers who want cheap FTs, and the costs to the economy (including less full time jobs for ploy grads).

  1. “good jobs for its citizens” means having a job. Benchmarks and goalposts are at their discretion. Hence, a bent-over 60+ year old lady clearing tables at a hawker centre is having a good job because 1) she is employed 2) she is given the ‘diginity of employment’.

    Singapore transformed into Singapore INC some years back, and along with the transformation went values such as citizenry, tripartism, etc. As with all companies, it is all about MONEY (ref Grace Fu-gate). Those who have benefited from the transformation tend to be at the top, who also are the decision makers. Hence the system is self-reinforcing. The loss of Aljunied GRC came as a rude shock to Singapore INC, even with the support of MSM, carrots, boundary changes, etc.

    Singapore INC wants cheaper, betterer, fasterer labour.

    So long as the upper-echelon are paid well, these policies will continue, because public servants have become servants to the company, and the company has little regard for the well-being of the rank and file employees.

    Changes in a system without a feedback mechanism (such as a free press) are often triggered by a tipping point. Singapore is not at such a point, so all you can do is to rant and rave. It may feel good, but it’s really just hot air to those at the top.

  2. “the government’s focus is on ensuring that Singapore remains the best home for all Singaporeans.”

    This is pure lip service. Singapore has the highest emigration rate in developed countries. I believe only some war-ravaged African country tops Singapore in this measure. A survey of Singapore youth shows about half wanting to settle elsewhere.

  3. Yet, these are the ministers who didn’t want their wage depressed by comparing with other countries leaders. They only want peasants wages to be depressed by comparing us with foreign labours. One country two standard. You die your business. That is why we must not let them get away with unreasonable high pay for themselves and deprives the citizen of asking more from our employers.

    • Taz one reason to keep hammering them on salaries

      (However, there is a sense that the government has a role in keeping the wages of the poor and now the Middle Class down. I remember someone telling me, “In Singapore, the policy is –KILL THE SME)

      The other is

      You cannot expect a customer to pay for a “Rolls Royce” but receive a “Fiat” and be greatful for it because the neighbours in Malaysia and Indonesia only have “Proton Saga.” The customer in this case is no longer willing to be greatful that he has a car in the first place. Nor will the public accept a discounted “Rolls Royce” government performing below par. We the paying public were told that we need to pay for a “Rolls Royce” government and that’s precisely what we expect to receive

  4. If you take their promises literally, you will surely vomit blood.

  5. This must be music to the ears of the 60.1% coming so soon after the report on the pay revision.

  6. Having worked with many foreigners in my time, I don’t buy the foreign talent argument that the government keeps trotting out. I am rather amused by their arguments – many run of the mill SMEs can’t even afford to keep capable Singaporeans, let alone capable foreigners.

    As they say, keep repeating a lie and it becomes the truth. But reality is a harsh mistress and facts are facts. The bosses are convinced they got a good deal till the really capable Singaporean managers + engineers leave and they are left holding the bag.

    At the end of the day, the problem isn’t the Singaporean worker. The problem is the Singaporean boss + manager.

    As usual, the way the government operates is to dig new holes to fill in old ones.

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