A recent Facebook post of Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) chief Dr Chee Soon Juan has gotten Singaporeans rather angry and worked up. In the post, he expressed a rather poor opinion of the nation that he had allegedly shared with foreigners on a recent trip to South Africa.
In his post, Dr Chee said that he had lunch with Tim Harris who was the CEO of an agency tasked with the promotion of trade and investment for Cape Town.
During the lunch meeting that Dr Chee had with Tim Harris, a conversation about free trade came up. During this conversation, some of the other Asians at the table warned Harris about the downfalls of free trade. According to Dr Chee’s account, they said, “Foreign business entities loved the cheap labour (enabled by authoritarian govts) as well as generous tax holidays. But once in, the tendency was to employ their own nationals.
Also, some pointed out, there was little technology transfer from these corporations.”
In his post, Dr Chee then went on to use Singapore as an example. He said, “Firms in Singapore discriminate against Singaporeans, and trade agreements continue to see the import of cheap labour (think CECA). Even our university students have to take study loans and go into debt while foreign students are given generous study grants.”
“No minimum wage, no trade unions, no free press and govt ranked bottom in effort to tackle income inequality. Economy struggling, unemployment and retrenchment rising, opportunities for youth bleak, elderly taking their own lives at an unprecedented rate…” he continued.
Many Singaporeans who commented on Dr Chee’s post felt that he had painted a rather biased and one-sided picture of the nation, and that he did not stand-up for the merits of the country.