Singapore—Unlike other recent Meet-the-People (MPS) sessions, which have been widely attended by food delivery riders after the ban on e-scooters in public footpaths was announced in Parliament on November 4, the November 13 MPS session at Ang Mo Kio saw no PMD riders at all.

Ang Mo Kio GRC is represented by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself, among other Members of Parliament. On November 7, there were 50 such riders who attended the session, wishing to air their concerns to their MPs.

The MP who attended the November 14 MPS was Ang Hee Kin, the assistant director-general of the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC), who, in the absence of food delivery riders, spoke to the media that night.

Mr Ang pointed out that issues with PMDs have intensified because of the sudden proliferation of food delivery services in the last three years, according to a report from mothership.

The MP from NTUC is quoted as saying that there’s “a lot of willingness from households to buy the services and for the restaurants to put themselves on the platform, and riders have the convenience to come in. This thing grew to a size today that offers great convenience and great options for those who want to look for a job, look for convenience and food.”

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He called the growth of this new industry a “hyperbolic jump.”

However, with the speed with which this new industry has grown, it has also come with attending problems.

“Technology has brought great convenience but along the way of the technology, the business model that supported the technology probably didn’t quite anticipate a lot of the unintended consequences,” said Mr Ang.

Adding to the problem is the absence of a proper framework for this new line of work to grow at a pace that is sustainable.

Mothership quotes him as saying, “Unintended consequences of proliferation [such as when] people leave it here, behind, some who are reckless in the way they use it, etc, if anyone has foreseen them, they would have stopped it in the first place. But where else have you seen [the] precedence to know how to anticipate [what would happen]?”

The MP from NTUC also talked about the flexibility of food delivery service as a job, which makes it attractive for freelancers. At the moment, one out of every 10 people in Singapore works as a freelancer.

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“More than 85 percent of them (doing freelance work) say that they voluntarily enter into a freelance career… more than 85 percent said that they walked into this job with their eyes wide open.

So those were the people who sort of found career options inside this space of disruptive technology, we saw how many people become (sic) private hire car driver, how many people became food deliver[ers] so it definitely created career options for those who need it for one reason or another.”

Importantly, Mr Ang underlined the fact that NTUC wishes to represent food delivery riders, and is at present working to form an association for representing riders, which would help mediate between them and the authorities, as well as, help with benefits for riders’ families. -/TISG

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