Thursday, August 17, 2006

Workers Party's National Day Message

Source: Workers Party

Singapore celebrates our 41 years of nationhood against the backdrop of the recent General Elections 2006.

The people have chosen and returned the ruling regime to power. Many Singaporeans told us that the Workers Party had given them a credible choice and that we had fought a good fight. The people have encouraged us to continue the struggle. We will certainly respond to this call and will continue to lay the foundations for Singapore’s political development. We will keep your choice alive.

As our 42nd year begins, let us reflect on how far we have progressed since the GE and what the future holds.

Transport Fare Hike

The post Elections dust has settled, and rising cost of living and price hikes are, once again, the order of the day. Over the last 3 months, Singaporeans had to accept hikes in both taxi and SMRT fares.

The reason given to the Public Transport Council by our transport operators is that of rising diesel prices, cutting into its earnings. The Workers’ Party noted that Comfort DelGro posted net earnings of about S$200 million last year, while SMRT made about S$100 million. Did they consider passing the benefits of lower COEs for taxis to the commuting public?

The Workers Party proposed in our manifesto that public transport operators, as the name suggests, should not be profit driven, let alone be listed. This is so that these operators do not have the anticipated pressure by shareholders (largely Government Linked Companies) to produce increasing Returns on Investments and quarterly profits.

We, therefore, call on the ruling regime to ensure that public transport operators should primarily serve the interests of public commuting needs and not only the shareholders.

Towards an open society

The Workers’ Party noted, with disappointment, the suspension of Mr. Brown by TODAY newspaper shortly after the MICA rebuttal to his column. Such intolerance is surely not evidence of an open society.

Mr. Brown never attacked anyone personally in his article. Yet MICA rebutted Mr. Brown on a personal level, bringing up his autistic child and hinting that he had vested interest. The response by MICA is simply unbecoming of a ‘first world’ ministry.

Singaporeans resonated with his views and creative sense of humor earning him popularity. As people can identify with his column, the government should value it as good feedback.

Whilst MICA has the right to rebut anyone, the Workers’ Party calls on our first world ruling regime to do so logically and with dignity.

Widening Income Gap

A household survey showed that the bottom 30% income percentile saw incomes fall over the period 2000-05, whilst the highest income percentile saw incomes rise over the same period.

The recent changes in foreign worker policies and levies by the Ministry of Manpower are purportedly to protect the jobs and raise wages of Singaporeans. In reality, despite these changes, Singaporean workers can never compete on a level playing field with foreign workers.

The Foreign worker has the option of going back to his country, better off from the wages he earned here and the much lower costs of living back there. On the other hand the Singaporean worker has to contend with the higher cost of living and housing here. As such the Singapore worker is at a great disadvantage compared to the foreign worker in terms of expected wages. The management’s challenge is to extract the maximum productivity from the cost of labour. Are we giving employers an easy way out by allowing them more access to cheaper foreign workers?

The Workers’ Party, therefore, calls upon the Government to look at the plight of our Singaporean workers and come up with a more satisfactory solution to raise the salaries of the lower income group and close the income gap.

During GE2006, the Workers’ Party proposed the ruling regime ministers to benchmark their performance on their ability to uplift the conditions of our bottom 20% income percentile. Will our ministers be willing to benchmark themselves to the ground?

Hope For The Future

According to a recent study by the British think-tank New Economics Foundation (NEF), the Happy Planet Index ranked Singapore as 131st on a list of 178 nations, faring the worse of all in ASEAN and Asian nations, in a survey that measured people’s well being and their impact on the environment.

On the anniversary of Singapore’s 41 years of nationhood, the Workers’ Party seeks to make Singapore a better and happier home in which every Singaporean can make contributions.As a political party, we will protect and promote the rights and dignity of all in society, especially the less fortunate. As fellow Singaporeans, we will do our part to create a vibrant environment in order to allow Singaporeans to maximize their potential in different fields.

Happy Birthday Singapore!

ERIC TAN HENG CHONG / YAW SHIN LEONG

Treasurer/ Organising Secretary
Date 16 August 2006

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