We Need to Build a Competitive Economy that will Protect Singaporeans

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We were at Ang Mo Kio early this morning with our volunteers and some residents.

One resident, who said that he is a business owner, shared that business costs have been rising, primarily due to exorbitant rents. This has been a top concern among businesses for some time now.

The resident shared that over the last few years, rents have been increasing by 30% to 40% every year. He said that these few years, the landlord would increase the rents, with a take it or leave it attitude and does not even speak to the tenants beforehand before increasing the rents. But where else could he go, since all the landlords or controlled or in some way related to the PAP government, he asked.

The businesses have no way to negotiate on the rents and have to bite the bullet or move out, which means closing their business. The resident said that the other option these landlords gave were for the tenants to sign contracts with fixed built-in rent increases, but this is also very uncertain as well. If they were to sign such contracts, won’t they lose out if rents were to increase at a lower rate?

In the past, the business owner said, contracts are signed on the basis that they will be honoured and businesses would not have to deal with uncertain rises in rents. But he said that today the landlords with links to the PAP government are only concerned about money, and do not care for the viability of local businesses like his.

The resident explained that this is why many of our Singaporean small and medium-sized businesses have had to close down, and even multinational corporations have had to leave Singapore because of the high costs. But this is unsustainable. How can Singapore sustain on a high-cost approach when even big businesses find it difficult to survive in Singapore?

For the resident, he felt that the way the PAP is doing things is wrong – how can the PAP only focus on profit while not caring for how local businesses can function? He feels that such a sole profit-making mindset is dangerous for Singapore.

Indeed, this is something many of our local businesses have been saying for some time now.

This is why, my fellow candidates at the Ang Mo Kio GRC is proposing to reduce rents to let small and medium-sized businesses have a breather.

Jesse Loo has said that high rents are the key impediment to why local businesses are finding it hard and he believes that rents should be reduced. Similarly, Osman Sulaiman who is a business director for a local firm said the same.

Over the past many years, the PAP has been driving up rents by far too much that this has squeezed out businesses. In order to allow businesses to become competitive again, we need to reduce rents to allow our local businesses to thrive and allow Singapore to grow our own domestic industries which can compete internationally.

The resident also shared with me that the government is earning from the foreign workers, via the foreign worker levies. Don’t blame the foreign workers, he told me. He said that for each foreign worker, the PAP government gets to earn as much as nearly a thousand from each of them, because businesses have to pay foreign worker levies to be able to hire foreign workers.

Indeed, it is known that the PAP government earns several billions in levies from these foreign workers.

But these levies not only hurt the workers, but it hurts the businesses too. First, workers are not able to earn higher wages. Also, businesses have to pay out such foreign worker levies which do not add to the productivity of the workers, but becomes money that is mindlessly given to the government.

Clearly, the foreign worker levy is a bad policy. The business owner told me that he would rather these foreign worker levies be returned to the workers instead.

Indeed, the reason why businesses in Singapore have to depress wages is also because they have to pay such high foreign worker levies and cannot give it to their workers. As such, because foreign workers earn depressed wages, this also causes the wages of Singaporeans to be depressed as well.

Evidently, the foreign worker levy and the cheap labour substitution therefore depresses the wages of Singaporeans and is a bad policy. It has to change.

I told the Ang Mo Kio resident that I agree with him. I said that if the foreign worker levies are returned to the worker, each worker could be earning as much as $2,000. When that happens, many Singaporeans would be willing to do the service jobs that is shunted now because of the low and inadequate wages.

It has been estimated by many that a minimum wage of $1,500 to $2,000 is indeed what is needed for Singaporeans to earn today, to have the most basic living.

And this is what many of our candidates, including me, Gilbert Goh, Jesse and Osman have been campaigning for all these while.

A minimum wage is necessary to protect Singaporeans and to improve our livelihoods.

Not only that, there are real and tangible benefits to our economy. With increased wages and purchasing power, this would enable workers to be able to spend more. The increased domestic consumption will also add to economic growth and benefit the country.

As my fellow candidates Jesse and Osman have also said, much of the economic growth has not gone back to Singaporeans. This is why Singaporeans no longer believe in the growth-at-all-costs model.

As such, our team at the Ang Mo Kio GRC believe that it is time we have a fairer and more equal Singapore, where we return the goods of the country to the people, and where all Singaporeans benefit from the hard work that they have put into bringing Singapore to where it is.

Our team wants to advocate for policies that will protect Singaporeans, that will allow us to earn higher wages, so that we will all be able to live decently and with dignity.

Singapore is today a wealthy nation, on a national level, but as my fellow candidate, Siva Chandran, has said, as long as there are still many Singaporeans living in one- and two-room flats and even bigger-sized flats, who are still struggling and suffering, while having difficulties making ends meet, then Singapore cannot be considered a First World country.

Our team believe that for Singapore to prosper once again as a nation and for Singaporeans to be proud of our country once again, we need to build a Singapore that puts Singaporeans at the heart of it all and where Singaporeans are respected and valued for who we are, as people.

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15 comments

  1. landragon123

    If you do not have the money to take part in this election why goes in? You will not lost your deposit when only 2 parties are in the race. Good luck to you and if you won, we will celebrate for you and we have another voices in parliament. If on 9/11 the sun rise from the West, Singapore will have a new government with ROY as our new Financial Minister and Ravi our new PM. Even if the PAP win we will also have a new PM as LHL have said.

    • pissedofsingaporean

      Are you seriously kidding me? Did you actually read the whole article? 90% of it is just one sided BS. If the likes of Reform Party gets voted in, Singapore wont last 10 years.

  2. Ted

    Wow… The great economics guru Roy writing about building a competitive economy for Singapore…
    How? Ask for donations? Kick out the foreigners? Return cpf to the most vulnerable so that they can ask for donations? The options seems unlimited… But how to stay competitive? Roy never tells us…
    Roy doesn’t even understand what it means by “risk free”, “capital protected principle “, “management risks”, etc… How does one like Roy even has the cheek to write such an article?
    So shameless….

      • pissedofsingaporean

        Roy as Finance Minister?! Siao Bo?!!!! I am normally neutral but I will volunteer for the PAP just to make sure that never happens in my lifetime.

    • Sick tired of pap

      Ted , even basic words you cannot spell properly, please refrain from making seemingly intelligent comments as it will only reflect on your ignorance and simply put you to shame !

      Roy has far more intellect and gumption than your few weak words ! You are no better than a frog in a well ( or a frog in slow heating pot of water ) ! At least Roy highlighted and dig up stuff that many are still unaware of. Lots of complacent people are happily and merrily living their lives until they are slowly boiled to death !

  3. hsds

    Basically only knows how to heckle special kids. U want to vote him?Jeyaratnam must be desperate. Its so obvious he hates LKY because he feels injustified because of his father, u know what.

  4. Ted

    Roy should write about how to exploit others to gain maximum media coverage…. Or how about “bad publicity is good publicity as long as u gain media coverage” or how about “freedom of speech is dead in Singapore, I wonder why I’m still not jailed”?

    • Rotten PAPayas

      Go to istana front gate, and carry a board that you want to flip prata, like what Nathan metaphorically did when he was president for PAPer scums.
      Then see if you get jailed 🙂

  5. R

    Did the resident who is also a employer agreed to your minimum wage proposal. How much is he willing to accept, $2500? The sum that will allow everyone to live comfortably. How will then he pass the extra costs to?

  6. Ted

    Minimum wage is just a tool by union leaders to advance their own ambitions. Minimum wage concept sounds good and looks good on surface but if u dig deeper and understand the human behavior that dictates the minimum wage, u will realize that it’s just a fake tool to entice workers to believe in.
    In Singapore, it is important to have constant dialogue between govt, workers and employers. This is the real and direct way to help. Govt will take the lead to show our employers to do the right thing.
    In all countries with minimum wage, the unions will always take to the streets to as for new minimum wage. Why those who advocate minimum wage never tell its supporter the reasons behind this? Why take to the street when ur wage will always be adjusted by the unionists and employers, with the govt as the unions’ biggest supporter?
    Singapore concept works beautifully but can it be translated in other countries? Difficult. Because in other countries, there exist leaders of powerful unionist groups which have their own agendas and ambitions. If Singaporean concept prevails, these leaders will no longer be relevant. Without strikes, riots, chaos, these union leaders of other countries will cease to be needed… If u r one of them, would u want a concept that works and lose ur prowess? The answer is obvious but cruel for the workers… But that’s other countries… Let them decide on what they want… Most of them have huge natural resources to squander. We Singaporeans r different, if we work like them, we would be died 50 years ago…

  7. Singapore Citizen Mr. Teo En Ming (Zhang Enming)

    Subtle Denial of Medical Treatment by the Singapore Government for Mr. Teo En Ming (Zhang Enming)

    Mr. Teo En Ming (Zhang Enming)
    Singapore Citizen

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