A post by Facebook user Eugene Wee expressing dismay at the disconnect of the Government Ministers towards the general public has gone viral. Mr Wee is the Founder and Executive Director of RADION International, a Christian relief and development agency.
In faulting the government’s response for consistently telling Singaporeans to “right-size” or downgrade whenever the public expresses concerns about the cost of living and for calling carelessly suggesting that people who earn less than half a million are “mediocre”, Mr Wee said that it may be about time Ministers joined the rest of Singaporeans “in being “mediocre”, and maybe “right-size” a little.”
The open letter which has has over 3,300 shares on Facebook reads:
When Singaporeans share about their pains of making ends meet or how they are struggling with living costs. The government’s response has consistently been for us to “right-size” or more clearly, downgrade.
The message is simple.
Living in singapore is not cheap, so if you are struggling, reduce your spending, reduce your lifestyle and spend within your means.
Yes frugality is important. But we may not be addressing the underlying issues here.
Singaporeans have worked all their lives; they too have hopes, dreams and ambition. No one wakes up with a dream to downgrade.
For most Singaporeans that I know, they are a hardworking bunch, willing to put in longer hours at work just to bring more to the family table.
They are not asking to buy another Lamborghini, or to stay in orchard road, or have caviar for lunch every day.
They’ve worked long hours in hopes that they can give their kids access to the best education, tutors to help the kids catch up with homework and maybe fund those rare family outings.
Most do not have much, but one thing that they have is a love for the nation. The same love, the same passion, the same commitment flows through our veins, as it did for our forefathers who brought this country to where it is today.
It is in us, that we understand that a minimum wage will affect our global competitiveness; so we have opted for lowered wages to keep the country attractive to investors and keep Singapore at the peak.
We take on these sacrifices, not because we like it, but we know it is for a bigger cause.
If you take the trains at nights, you will see exhausted fathers and mothers, after a hard day’s work, taking a crowded late night train home; often only to reach home after their child is already asleep.
That is the sacrifice we put in, plow in and give on a daily basis; because this is home.
But here is where we see the disconnect.
After we have accepted lower wages, after living with less, after sacrificing time with our families; now when we get old, we are asked to right-size” or even consider going to JB to retire.
It hurts our older folks, because this is home.
And instead of finding solutions, we ask our forefathers aka the Merdeka generation to leave Singapore, their home.
Now for the rest of us, it gradually becomes apparent that there seems to be a different narrative when it comes to the general population and the top civil servants.
Let me explain.
When it comes to ministerial salaries, we justify that we need to pay Ministers well. The argument changes, it is no longer about frugality, but about meeting lifestyle needs.
Slowly, we see the argument going up another notch, proposing that we ought to be pegging our civil servants salary against the top earners in corporate Singapore.
Suddenly, it’s no longer about lifestyle need, but a lucrative career in politics.
We talk about the need to attract the top talents, and the argument is that if we don’t offer more, these top talents will refuse to switch from the corporate world to the Civil service.
Well, I think this may actually be a good thing. It may actually help to sift out the ones who serve the country for public good, and the ones who hop on the bandwagon simply because it pays well.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for paying our civil servants well, but in doing so, we are also looking for leaders who are driven by conviction, competence and compassion.
And definitely not people who are so accustomed to the high life, so disconnected with the ground that one can – so carelessly – suggest that people who earn less than half a million, are “mediocre”.
It’s good to be reminded that the “mediocre” Singaporeans are the ones who have opted to go without a minimum wage. It’s the “mediocre” that have kept the country attractive to investors. And these “mediocre” Singaporean form 95% of the population that built the foundational blocks of our country.
If “mediocre” meant a generation of Singaporeans who love, bleed and gave sacrificially for the country, maybe its also time the leaders joined us in being “mediocre”, and maybe “right-size” a little.”
According to Radion International, “Eugene graduated with a BSc (Hons) Business Computing & Information Technology from University of Wales (UK). He pursued a career in the Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) for 6 years and thereafter went into corporate training and consultancy. His work with MINDEF earned him a commendation for life-saving, and he was later also awarded the Good Service Medal.
Eugene represents RADION International in the Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC) United Nations’ central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development. He is also a member of INSPIRIT, a community of young Singaporean leaders that champion youth causes and advocate youth interest on national issues.
Eugene believes that money cannot buy happiness and that in his little ways, he can make a difference.
Eugene’s life took a change at the age of 26, giving up a promising career to start RADION International, to make a difference in the lives of marginalized communities.”