Singapore — The issue of whether or not the country should adopt a minimum wage has been in the news of late, with Leader of the Opposition and Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh pushing for a universal minimum wage with S$1,300 as a base in a social media post on Monday (Oct 12).
He wrote that “a universal Minimum Wage for the Singaporean worker is not just a moral imperative. It is a statement of what it means to be Singaporean. For the true measure of our society is found in how we treat our most vulnerable”.
WP MP Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) brought up the issue during the debate on the President’s Address last month in a broader speech about having compassion in policymaking. The Associate Professor of Economics, and fellow party MP Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC), reposted Mr Singh’s post on their own social media pages.
However, the Government has said that it will not pursue a national minimum wage since the existing Progressive Wage Model (PWM) scheme acts like “minimum wage-plus” in several sectors.
Meanwhile, Reform Party Chairman Charles Yeo has said in an Instagram Story that he has argued for the minimum wage “for years” and, like the WP leader, he believes it is “a moral imperative”.
He also said that, while he’s “not an economist”, he believes that lower wage workers need to earn at least “1700 – 2000” a month “to survive in Sg — much less think of raising a family”.
The $1,300 minimum wage suggested by Mr Singh, which he called “commendable … as a start … is still very low” and would mean workers would earn “around $6.50 per hour — given that most of these low-wage workers work about ten hours a day”.
Mr Yeo added: “People who oppose minimum wage need to be shot. I am not even joking. It’s f**king disgusting how they think they can get away with oppressing the voiceless.”
Some people, however, did not take too kindly to Mr Yeo’s remarks. One of them, Mr Donovan Choy, in a Facebook post that has become widely shared, said:
“Your average Opposition politician in Singapore: I’m not an economist, I don’t study economic theory, I haven’t looked at the empirical evidence, but here’s my uninformed opinion anyway.
“Can someone please take Charles Yeo’s Instagram account away from him?”
Your average Opposition politician in Singapore: I'm not an economist, I don't study economic theory, I haven't looked…
And Mr Michael Petraeus, who writes a local blog under the name Critical Spectator, pounced on Mr Yeo’s statement about shooting those who oppose the minimum wage.
Mr Petraeus wrote: “Remember Charles Yeo? The Reform Party guy who threatened me that I would be targeted when opposition wins the elections in Singapore and that I deserve death penalty?
“Well, looks like he’s now so determined to support minimum wage he wants to shoot everybody opposed to it.
“This guy is a lawyer, by the way. Is anybody at IMH watching?”
In response, Mr Yeo wrote another series of posts on Instagram Story to clarify the matter, stating that “ought to be shot” is “a figure of speech/a metaphor” that he had not meant literally. “Where would we get a gun in Sg anyway?” he added.
What he wanted to do was to “put across the post that the people who espouse anti-minimum wage views are generally so morally bankrupt as to render their views worthy of zero consideration”.
“Think about it,” the RP official wrote. “If they are so willing to make people toil for a pittance like modern day slaves …has something gone wrong with their moral compass?”
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