Singapore— Workers’ Party (WP) chair Sylvia Lim on July 2, said in the second edition of “The Hammer Show,” (the party’s pre-recorded show that comes out nightly), that Singaporeans today live with more job insecurity than in the past, even as she acknowledged that the country has had advantages due to free trade and globalisation.
“There is no iron rice bowl today,” the WP chair stated.
A rice bowl is a term in Chinese (pinyin) that refers to work with guaranteed job security, regular pay and benefits. It was a traditional belief that if a person started in a job or with a specific company, they were set for life.
Therefore, it is important to know what each party stands for in terms of the future of employment in Singapore.
Ms Lim added that Singapore now has more than 210,000 gig economy freelance workers at present. She continued, “The Workers’ Party supports economic growth that is broad-based and inclusive. Our candidates have ideas and relevant experience to add to this discussion.”
Thursday’s “Hammer Show” had WP candidates tackling job security and economic growth. Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leon Perera, the CEO of a consulting firm, moderated the panel composed of Gerald Giam, former NCMP and technology entrepreneur; Jamus Lim, an economist from the Essec Business School; He Tingru, a lawyer; and Yee Jenn Jong, an entrepreneur.
Mr Yee expounded on the dangers of what he called the mentality of ruling People Action Party (PAP) leaders of “grow at all cost.”
He said, “Such methods lead to unsustainable growth and depressed wages for bottom income earners, and social problems.”
What Singapore has now is not a “Swiss standard of living,” he added, but a “Swiss cost of living.”
On his part, former NCMP Gerald Giam underlined the importance of re-examining the country’s approach to low-productivity sectors such as construction.
Professor Lim said that the onset of the coronavirus pandemic has had serious effects on Singapore’s economy in that automation and artificial intelligence have accelerated. The inequality gap, populism, nationalist tendencies and de-globalisation have also hastened due to the pandemic.
The economist tackled one aspect many Singaporeans have been concerned about, which is the issue of foreign workers, which he said would now longer contribute to raising the nation’s productivity.
Ms He added that the country should not always expect that low-paid workers will be available from other countries, which makes it an impractical solution for Singapore’s labour issues, and said that it is important to invest in more environmentally-friendly technologies in order to address the pressing issue of climate change. This would also decrease the nation’s dependence on carbon-based energy sources, as renewable energy becomes more accessible.
The panel discussion was interspersed with short speeches from other WP candidates. Louis Chua, who, along with Professor Lim and Ms He, is part of the party’s team contesting at the newly-created Sengkang GRC, said that the pandemic has exposed the country’s economic limitations and weaknesses, and that structural reform is needed.
And in another speech, Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, who is contesting with the WP team at East Coast GRC, discussed WP’s redundancy insurance programme for retrenched employees. Mr Shariff said that the current Covid-19 Support Grant and the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme are actually “redundancy insurance schemes in disguise,” but that these types of assistance will be needed even after the pandemic passes. —/TISG
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