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‘These pleas are just the cries of the rich’: Lim Tean on PAP’s arguments against living wage

Living wage won't affect small business, foreign investment and the economy, he says

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Singapore — Revisiting a longstanding issue in Singaporean politics, People’s Voice (PV) founder and activist Lim Tean recently urged Singaporeans not to give ear to the People’s Action Party (PAP)’s case against a living wage.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo’s response on the issue was noted in a July 2020 article posted on the PAP’s website. Stressing how a minimum wage or a living wage “doesn’t quite make the best use of resources in different sectors,” she pointed out the benefits of a progressive wage, which gives workers an incentive to climb a “ladder” where each level is a higher wage one can get after levelling up his or her skills and amount of responsibility.

“Why do the bare minimum when we can do so much more? We want to be progressive,” said Ms Teo.

In a recent Facebook post published on Tuesday (Feb 9), Mr Tean shed a starkly different light on the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), championed by the PAP.

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Screengrab from Faceebook

“Singaporeans deserve a living wage,” he wrote. “A wage that provides dignity and opportunities in our expensive nation.”

He then recalled the announcement in 2007  that Singaporean Ministers would get a 60 per cent salary increase. “Remember when the PAP upped their own salaries?” Mr Tean asked. “Don’t they think it would be nice, would be a right, for any man or woman working a full-time job to feel adequate living in Singapore? Being able to make adequate and dignified choices about the food on their family table, the tuition for their children, their own retirements?”

He urged Singaporeans not to be swayed by arguments that a living wage could hit small businesses, foreign investments as well as the economy as a whole. “These pleas are just the cries of the rich, cries which were heard in every country prior to their minimum wage introductions, he wrote. “Cries which became obsolete when none of the dire consequences materialised. In fact the data shows that nations have become more prosperous since the introduction of minimum or living wages.”

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