A week of ridiculous statements

It’s been a busy week of news and I’m pretty upset, not so much by the news but the jaw-dropping things the Govt people say as a result of the news.

Meritocracy

“The labour movement is “uncomfortable” and “concerned” with the calls for equal jobs, equal remuneration”…Mr Lim said that equal remuneration would not take into account the standard of living in Singapore as opposed to other regions, and this would be unfair for local workers who have to support their family members here. - Labour chief Lim Swee Say with regards to the strike by the China-born bus drivers in Singapore.

For all the talk about meritocracy in Singapore, it doesn’t exist from what I see. The rich/poor gap widens every day, because things are stacked up against the poor and lowly educated.The rich can ensure their children get all the help they need to get a top-tier education, and the poor struggle to make ends meet while trying to figure out the convoluted English in today’s primary school papers.

Now we are asked to ponder: Why shouldn’t we pay foreign workers less than a local worker for the same amount of work done?

Does this mean, if I go overseas looking for a job, I can ask for a higher salary since the cost of living in Singapore is so high?

Please.

I can tolerate a higher cost of living if it means that there are more opportunities for locals AND foreigners to find jobs that can pay the bills here. The cost of living is shooting up because of ridiculous housing prices (especially that of public housing), unfettered increase in rentals by greedy landlords, and an education system that forces so many parents to fork out money for tuition. (I shan’t include cars since it’s deemed a luxury item these days.)

What is being done to manage those costs? Not very much, until the next recession comes along and all the bubbles burst (except the recession-proof tuition centers)

The last thing I want to tell my children is “See, look at that foreigner over there. He earns less than the Singaporean guy doing the same job because you deserve to be paid more for being born here.”

Or

“Do you know that we have to pay that China bus driver so much less, and make him stay in a dirty dormitory because otherwise you will complain about the high cost of transport in Singapore?”

Pay people for the work they do, not who they are. And for goodness sake, treat our foreign workers with dignity and respect. They’re here to earn a living just like the rest of us.

The SMRT

“The purpose of fare increases is not to boost the short term profits of PTOs. It is also not just to improve salaries of bus drivers but to improve service to commuters while keeping public transport operations commercially viable.” - Lui Tuck Yew, trying to clarify what he really meant when he said the public had to bear fare increases so they can pay bus drivers better.

Lui Tuck Yew’s recent statements on public transport have been derided endlessly by the public, but he wouldn’t keep quiet. Ironically, he hardly replies to the near-100% negative statements on his postings. I wonder if he even reads the comments from his angry “fans”.

Let me lay it out in a simple formula that is easier than today’s PSLE questions:

Profitable SMRT + Billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize their fleet + A lucrative COE/ERP system hell bent on making us take public transport = Poorly maintained train lines + dismal living conditions for hardworking foreign drivers + An ex-CEO who goes scot-free for today’s mess + no real penalty for angering commuters all the time = Can the Transport Minister fix problems first before saying so much?

I do feel sorry for so many SMRT workers who have to take the heat daily from commuters for bad management and government decisions. The SMRT is a difficult entity to manage across all its lines of businesses, and honestly, it does a pretty good job day-to-day in ferrying millions around this tiny island.

But someone needs to tell Mr Lui to stop destroying whatever is left of their public image and commuter goodwill with his mindblowing PR skills.

Come clean with the financial numbers and tell us how much it’s going to cost with the proper data and projections – we’re not that dumb you know. Apparently we score very well globally in mathematics.

Employees and the right to privacy

“When we heard this happened, we all felt sorry for her (Ms Laura Ong) to be caught in that position. On one hand, we would like to not add to her pain by disclosing her identity, yet at the same time this case has attracted much public attention.” - Lim Swee Say on why the People’s Association revealed the name of Michael Palmer’s lover to the public.

So a high-flying Speaker of Parliament has an affair despite knowing better (and he’s a lawyer to boot). There goes his career and reputation, and it’s all his own doing.

It is obvious that his lover will be outed by social or traditional media sooner or later, but for the People’s Association to reveal her name publicly in connection to the case…that’s unacceptable.

If you say you don’t want to add to her pain…DON’T.

Who is the one in the wrong who has shamed the PAP for his lack of integrity and moral fibre? Who has caused a potential by-election that will cost a lot of time, money and political points?

Why add a tremendous amount of pain to a woman who probably didn’t fully understand how this could turn into a media inquisition? If you’re going to reveal her name, why not go all the way and issue a press release with high resolution photos of her mugshot? Why not add in statements that this woman has had an affair with the Speaker and that’s why she’s quitting?

Seriously, this is a week which has shown how poor the Govt. is at diplomacy and public communication.

Simi National Conversation about happiness and what not?

This IS the National Conversation and it’s not going well.

  • YMC

    If I was in Govt, I’d take heed of the public discontent over the problems of the public transport system. Before the PAP got into power there were many private bus companies which the Govt decided arbitrarily to nationalise – now in search of fatter profits to justify their obscenely large salaries, the PAP has placed profit above quality. Secluded from the problems of taking public transport, its easy for them to do mouth off double speak about the need to increase fare prices. The majority of Singaporeans rely upon public transport to get to their already highly stressful jobs. Thanks to the govt’s focus on profits, the MRT system is falling apart. If there is ever a major accident, and I hope there never is – I don’t think the 60% of Singaporeans will be so forgiving of the Gahmun in the next GE.

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  • ABC

    agreed. i find the communication/PR/image mgt skills of our politicians shockingly poor despite their qualifications and position…

    i have thought abt it and maybe its becos most of them dont have to ever fight tooth and nail for their places which invariably breeds contempt and a false sense of entitlement. this is the root of the problem.. the system will continue to produce such ppl until we fix the system..

  • creamsical

    It is frightening how poorly all these so-called scholars communicate. How on earth did they pass their exams? How would Lui outline a battleplan if he was still in the armed forces? Wld anyone understand him? Can Lawrie forsake the melodrama and come down to earth, instead of putting us off with cheap soap opera lines?

    Are they aware that the inability to put across a point simply and clearly indicates an inability to think clearly, to cut through the crap to the nub of a sitn, to spot what others may overlook (skills a higher education is supposed to give you)?

    This inability is further underlined by the “solutions” they spout. Didn’t they see the weaknesses in the answers offered them by their civil service fellas and raise these doubts?

    Obviously, they don’t really have an inkling of what they’re dealing with. And don’t have the imagination to put themselves in others’ shoes for a feel of things.

    But how much does it take to figure out that if you bring in 2 million people, you need the infrastructure to support them? That you don’t base the pay of a foreigner working in your country on the cost of living in his country, but on yours?

    The PAP has long been poor in grasping basic social realities – such as you can’t just stuff a country with lots of foreigners and expect its fabric to be unaffected, or replace familiar surroundings at 200kph and expect pple not to feel displaced in their country – but the sitn is becoming absurd. As absurd as the govt’s jmad belief that pursuing growth at all costs has only advantages. And that mumbling now and then about graciousness but encouraging inconsideration, will result in pple without basic manners.