In 1994, the PAP started increasing its own salaries to millions of dollars, by pegging their own salaries to the salaries of the richest in Singapore. From 1995 to 2011, the share of income that went to the richest 10%, the PAP among them, then increased from 30% to 42%.
From 1995 onwards, the wages of the poorest Singaporeans then started being depressed. From 2004, it was the turn of middle-income Singaporeans, when median wage also started getting depressed. This coincided with the PAP opening up the floodgates even more to cheap labour, and where the PAP did not want to change the E Pass and S Pass minimum salary limit for a long time, this meant that the wages of foreign workers were also depressed, which in turn also depressed the wages of Singaporeans.
Today, there is still no minimum wage in Singapore, and Singapore is one of very few countries in the world which still does not have minimum wage. Not only that, Singapore is also one of very few countries in the world where there is no unemployment benefits, which means that when a person loses his or her job, he or she has no protection, and already more and more Singaporeans have been losing their jobs.
In addition, Singapore also has the least employment protection legislation among the developed countries, after America. This means that not only is it very easy to fire workers in Singapore, when workers are discriminated or unfairly dismissed, they also have very little recourse. Worse still, workers can also be unfairly replaced. It is known that many companies also circumvent the law and where they are required to pay S Pass holders a minimum of $2,500 for example, they do not do so. A foreign worker told me he was paid only $1,200, which means that the company profits from it. This also means that for a polytechnic graduate, a company would choose to hire a foreigner for the same job instead of hire the polytechnic graduate, since the foreign workers are cheaper. The same applies for the E Pass and for degree holders. As such, this causes wages to stagnate across the board for Singaporeans, and for foreign workers as well.
However, where wages for low- and middle-income Singaporeans stagnate, at the higher spectrum, Singaporean PMETs have been losing their jobs. Because of the agreements that the PAP sign with other countries, Singapore is not allowed to implement job protection policies to protect the jobs of Singaporeans. This thus allows companies to hire foreign PMETs at cheaper wages and thus forcing Singaporeans out of certain industries, such as in finance, accounting and even in the healthcare industries.
Today, even though Singapore has become one of the richest countries in the world, Singaporeans actually earn one of the lowest wages among the richest countries. But for the rich in Singapore, they actually earn the highest salaries among the developed countries. In fact, government statistics have shown that foreigners actually earn higher wages than Singaporeans.
When you compare Singapore to other countries with a similar level of national wealth, Japan has a minimum wage of $2,000, Australia has a minimum wage of $3,000. Low-income workers in Switzerland earn $3,000 while in Denmark and Norway, they earn more than $5,000. However, in Singapore, a cleaner still earns only $1,000. And there are many Singaporeans and foreign workers who earn much lower than that. Construction workers from India and maids still earn only $400. How can anyone in Singapore survive on this? And this is also why Singapore has the lowest purchasing power among the developed countries.
But today, even as Singaporeans struggle, the PAP refuses to define a poverty line and then implement a minimum wage to that level. It has been estimated by several economists and academics that there are 30% of Singaporeans living in poverty, which is the highest among the developed countries, and even in Southeast Asia.
However, the PAP will only want to protect their own salaries. The members of parliament earn $16,000 a month, which puts them as the richest 5% in Singapore, while for the ministers, they are paid the highest salaries in the world. Yet, 30% of Singaporeans still earn less than $2,000 and 40% earn less than $2,500.
If you just compare with Norway, a low-income earner earns $5,000 a month but their prime minister only earns $25,000, which is only 5 times more. But in Singapore, the low-income earner earns $1,000 while the prime minister earns $183,000 per month, and this is not yet including the other bonuses. This means that the prime minister is earning at least 183 times more than a low-income Singapore.
But where is the justice and fairness in this, where 30% of Singaporeans are living in poverty and poor Singaporeans cannot even make ends meet but the PAP would pay themselves such high salaries, and yet still want to keep increasing their own salaries because they do not think it is “realistic”? How does this make sense when the prime minister earns nearly 200 times more than a low-income Singaporean but the PAP does not want to increase the wages of Singaporeans?
Without a doubt, the PAP has abused Singaporeans through and through by forcing Singaporeans to earn depressed wages and to work the longest hours in the world. This has allowed the PAP to let the companies in Singapore earn the highest profit share in the world. And with the PAP controlling many of the Singapore companies and being involved in business itself, this has allowed the PAP to get rich for itself.
Singapore has been ranked 5th on the crony capitalism index by The Economist, which means that it is the easiest for the rich to get rich if they are affiliated to the PAP. Today, Singapore has one of the highest concentration of billionaires in the world. Lee Hsien Loong thinks that it is good to have inequality, because as long as he brings in more billionaires, he says that this will create more jobs for Singapore. But where research has shown that such trickle-down economics does not happen, what this does mean is that Singapore then becomes more and more expensive, and where Singaporeans do not earn enough, we simply cannot spend enough, even on basic necessities.
Indeed, Singapore has become the most expensive country in the world today, and the household consumption in Singapore has fallen, and yet Singapore today has the second highest debt in Asia. Worse still, Singaporeans are also made to pay the most out of our own pockets for healthcare in the world, after Switzerland and the most expensive university fees in the world, for citizens.
How are Singaporeans expected to survive?
It is not an understatement to say that the lives of Singaporeans have gotten worse because the PAP caused it. Simply put, the PAP has allowed themselves to get rich and they have done so, by making the lives of Singaporeans worse off.
Is this the kind of government that you want? Today, it is clear that the PAP no longer cares for Singaporeans and no longer has the interests of Singaporeans at heart. In fact, the PAP has stabbed Singaporeans in the back.
Today, on our depressed and low wages, the PAP also makes Singaporeans pay the most out of wages into social security for retirement (CPF) in the world. And because the PAP takes our CPF to let the GIC and Temasek Holdings get rich on, while returning low interest back to Singaporeans – possibly the lowest in the world – this has caused Singaporeans to have one of the least adequate retirement funds in the world, and so many of our elderly Singaporeans have to work as cleaners and cardboard collectors. Yet, Tan Chuan-Jin still has the cheek to say that elderly Singaporeans want to work as cardboard collectors because they want to have dignity. But is this the way a government should respond to its old? Instead of letting them work under the hot sun to earn a meagre amount of a few dollars every day, shouldn’t the government’s responsibility be to increase their CPF retirement funds, so that the elderly can actually retire with dignity?
But the PAP would make Singaporeans pay our CPF into Medisave and MediShield to earn from them, and then lock up our CPF for themselves, with the CPF Minimum Sum, and also make Singaporeans pay for the most expensive public housing in the world, so much so that we lose a huge amount of our CPF into profits for the PAP for housing, and then be made to pay an accrued interest into the CPF again.
What on earth does the PAP treat Singaporeans as? Cash cows? Slaves?
My fellow Singaporeans, for our lives to get better, the answer is clear. We have to vote for the opposition.
The only way that the government will finally take care of Singaporeans, and protect us, is when there is a new government.
Only when the opposition wins enough votes to form a coalition government, will the government then implement minimum wage and unemployment benefits to protect Singaporeans. Only then will the government increase healthcare expenditure and will Singaporeans have free education, so that our young and old will be protected. And only then will the government #ReturnOurCPF and will our CPF retirement funds increase, and will elderly Singaporeans be respected and be able to retire with dignity.
This is no longer something that we can wait and sit on. Enough is enough. The PAP has abused Singaporeans for long enough. It is time we make a stand. It is time we vote right, and vote for a new government which will finally take care of, and protect Singaporeans.
We have to do this for ourselves, our families, our children and our future generations.
We have to do this for Singapore and Singaporeans. It is time we help ourselves. It is time we let go of our pride and do what is right. It is time we save Singapore.