Thursday, August 31, 2006

Sex, drugs and foreigners

The title of this post isn't as vulgar as it sounds. It just concerns serious issues raised by the National Solidarity Party.........

NSP Reaction To PM Lee’s National Day Rally 2006
Press Release, Tue, Aug 22, 2006

It is heartening to hear the PM expressed his optimism of a 3-5% "sustainable long term growth for Singapore." However, the wages of blue-collar workers continue to be depressed by a determined labour policy scourge of keeping wages for this group of workers low to render Singapore labourers more cost-competitive.

It is thus of immense concern that the blue-collar workers will not substantially benefit from the rosy economic statistics without needing increasing government handouts. And this is to say nothing of the constant threat of unemployment and retrenchment, which with the present policies is made insurmountable.

The emphasis of high quality growth sectors in areas like biomedical science, environmental and water technologies and interactive and digital media will inescapably drive the higher limits of the salary scale in Singapore rapidly up, invariably leading to a higher cost of living for all Singaporeans. Workers in the lower rungs will experience even more hardship.

We urge the government to resolve the woes of these workers by taking concrete steps to close the salary gap. For a start, the inexorable tide of cheap and readily available foreign labourers has to be checked. Singapore workers must be allowed the benefit of a prioritised job placement ahead of their foreign counterparts.

The government must seriously incorporate a decent minimum wage structure, coupled with the correct motivational approach for these workers. Persisting in labelling these workers struggling to find meaningful employment as either "choosy" of lacking in the right attitude and mindset is counterproductive.

We accept that global competition is useful for the progress of Singapore, and that foreign talents are a necessary component of a progressive nation. However, we propose that the domain of such competition be limited to the top 15-20% of the high-end professions (doctors, engineers, and big time businessmen, to name a few). We further inject the emphasis that only the right foreign talents be accepted in order to maintain a high standard of competition and to impart esteem to the policy.

We caution the government against a wholesale introduction of foreign competition to every sector and every level of the job market. Such a policy is detrimental to the interest of the majority of our local workers in their bid to make a decent living, and is destined to alienate the locally born Singaporeans. This will only serve to accelerate their departure from the country, exacerbating the chronic brain drain.

Government initiatives like the Overseas Singaporean Unit (OSU) are commendable. However, the government must realistically face up to the truth that the environment in the motherland has simply become less and less attractive for many. As a case in point, businessmen often find themselves competing against GLCs backed by state resources. Faced with powerful monopolies or controlled competitions, many have to compromise their plans, or take the painful decision to leave their birthplace behind.

The sad state of Singapore's population replacement figures aggravates the situation. The Total Fertility Rate of Singapore has seen better days within a short span of 4 decades; from more than 3 in the 60's to an incredible 1.2 today. It is all the more inexplicable that the trend has not been taken too seriously despite the regular population census.

It is highly regrettable that the psychological origins behind this anomaly (for such a young nation) was met inappropriately by material incentives like the Baby Bonus and infant-care subsidies, which has proven to be overrated.

The government has now chosen to vigorously promote the introduction of immigrants into Singapore as yet another quick medicine. However, the government has the obligation to foretell the future consequences such a move will have on Singapore's social fabric - What is to become of the 'indigenous' population who finds themselves in the numerical minority? Will immigrants readily accept naturalisation, or will they 'come and go' as they please, using Singapore as a convenient liability-free springboard to greener pastures? How will our cultural heritage resist being rendered irrelevant by immigrants with little or no historical attachments to that which has defined Singapore?

Many nations are discovering that a liberal immigration policy is no panacea to population growth. And that is to say nothing of the cost of social integration.

In conclusion, the NSP would like to urge the government to look at the issues of wage depression, aversion for procreation, and the departure of aspiring Singaporeans in a more down-to-earth manner. NSP will like to continue to emphasise that intangibles like more media freedom and more space for political expression are sine qua non of a progressive nation. Economic and political liberalisations are different sides of the same coin.

Central Executive Council
National Solidarity Party
A Member of the Singapore Democratic Alliance
Don't miss the latest Feature article from the NSP titled The Great Subutex U-Turn - Injecting The Macabre Facts.

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