Singapore – The Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), Chee Soon Juan took a moment to explain the reason for why there are so many foreign bus drivers in Singapore and said that one reason is the low wages that Malaysians could survive on.
On Wednesday (Mar 18), Dr Chee pointed out on social media the reason behind the number of foreign bus drivers in Singapore in response to Malaysia’s movement control order.
“The fact that so many hapless Malaysian’s crossing the causeway to beat the deadline of their country’s lockdown is unfortunate,” wrote Dr Chee on his Facebook profile. “But spare a thought, too, for our own workers,” he added.
According to Dr Chee, there are approximately 300,000 workers from Malaysia earning a living in Singapore. He used the example of bus drivers to expound further.
“Why are there so many foreign bus drivers in Singapore?” he asked. “One reason is the low wages that Malaysians can survive on that we can’t,” answered Dr Chee.
He compared the monthly wage levels of bus drivers among different countries which placed Singapore’s figure (S$1,800) quite low in contrast to Denmark’s (S$6,193), Finland’s (S$3,910), Norway’s (S$6,260) or Sweden’s (S$4,480) wage levels.
“Our GDP per capita is similar to these four Scandinavian countries,” Dr Chee pointed out. “These economies are one of the most expensive in the world. But then, so is Singapore’s,” he added.
Dr Chee included photos of bus drivers, cleaners, construction workers in the mentioned Scandinavian countries and noted that they “don’t import en masse cheap labour from India, PRC, and Malaysia.”
He explained that the economy could sustain such wage levels because higher wages for Singaporean workers “mean better spending power which benefits local businesses” as a result.
Dr Chee considered the arguments of others such as Singaporeans shunning these jobs or that those countries have high taxes hence the capacity to pay higher wages.
“If the pay and conditions are good, I see no reason why our people, like the Scandinavians, would not take on such employment,” Dr Chee commented. Furthermore, we also have high taxes, he said. “They just come in different guises.”
Dr Chee admitted that the present arrangement in Singapore is slowly choking the life out of people. “It is not sustainable.” Mental health problems, work-related stress and financial burdens are some of the issues that “plague Singaporeans.”
Meanwhile, the Nordic societies, although not perfect, rank as the happiest people in the world, survey after survey, noted Dr Chee.
He assured the public that the SDP would be pushing this and other similar issues at the next elections. “They must get a full airing and intense national attention because the Covid-19 outbreak will come and go, but these matters will remain and continue to be the yoke around our necks if we are not careful and get distracted.”
Many from the online community agreed with Dr Chee and confirmed that if the wages in Singapore were on the same range as the other countries, they would gladly take the job.
Shaf Abd shared a conversation with a bus driver in Sydney who was able to travel around the world. “All that on a bus driver’s salary. I was floored!”
Another netizen illustrated the present situation wherein the left hand receives a salary while the right hand gives it away in bills.
Tan Boon Han asked Dr Chee what the opposition party leader deems as fair wage for bus drivers. Dr Chee replied with a definition of “enough” for senior citizens, middle-class and lower-income households.
The fact that so many hapless M’sians crossing the causeway to beat the deadline of their country’s lockdown is…