Opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, who last year ventured into the restaurant business, posted an unusual photo on Facebook on Thursday (Dec 1) along with the question, “What’s a person worth?” The photo showed Dr Chee, the secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party, standing beside a garbage bin.

“It was taken at the end of a long day when my staff and I took the trash to the refuse centre deep in the bowels of the building. As you can imagine, we weren’t exactly in the mood for a glamour shot,” he wrote. He added that “this is the reality” of what the staff at his restaurant, Orange & Teal, face daily, calling the work they do “back-breaking” and saying that he joins them in this work.

“After an unforgiving day standing behind a hot stove or in front of a 200° oven, they have to scrub the floor, wash the pots and pans, wipe down the equipment, clear the trash, and, of course, prepare for the following day. It’s a back-breaking job. I know it because I do it with them. I do it because I want to know what it’s like to walk a mile in their shoes.”

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He wrote that “it is no wonder that few Singaporeans want the job,” adding, “But just imagine if no one did it. Where would we go to have that nice lunch or evening out with friends and family?”

And during the holidays when most people get to relax and enjoy, Dr Chee reminded readers that “service workers have to work the hardest and forego their leisure time. Behind that merry-making are people who slog to serve and clean up after us.”

He urged those who’ll be visiting Orange & Teal for the holidays to say hello and leave a tip for the servers and staff, when they come, writing, “I know I walk with an extra spring in my step whenever I see you smile and hear you pay a kind compliment. I’m sure they do, too.”

Toward the end of his post, the SDP head wrote that as a politician, he wonders aloud concerning the worth of people based on their salaries:

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“Which brings me to a more philosophic question: What’s a person worth? Why do some people make $100,000 (or more) a month just because they have the megaphone to tell you that they are a bargain for that price while others have to quietly sacrifice and slog to take home $3,000? How do we determine the value of each human being, anyway?” /TISG

Chee Soon Juan: Singapore continues to be plagued by a government that leeches itself on the economy