The following is the Singapore Democratic Party’s May Day message received by theonlinecitizen on May 2.
Gandhi Ambalam, Chairman,
Singapore Democratic Party
Friends and fellow Singaporeans,
May Day is an annual event to honor the workers of the world. In Singapore, it is only appropriate that our workers, who hold up our economy, are honored and have their rights protected.
There are about 2.5 million workers in Singapore. But they are left with no rights under the PAP which, ironically, came to power on the backs of our workers in 1959.
After winning power, one of the first things that the PAP did was to remove some of those basic rights – the right to decent wages, the right to proper annual leave, medical care etc.
What was worse, the PAP introduced draconian laws in the late 60s such as the Employment Act, the Trade Unions Act and the Industrial Relations Act to deny our workers their rightful entitlements.
These three pieces of archaic legislation that are still being retained at present are in fact used by the employers to exploit our workers. In other words, our workers became victims of big business, including Government and Temasek-linked companies.
Over the years, instead of improving the lot of our workers, the PAP has further exploited them through the National Trades Union Congress.
The PAP set up the NTUC in 1961 after arresting trade unionists and deregistering their genuine trade unions that existed then.
The NTUC has been a failure in representing the interests of our workers. Despite being around for 47 years, the NTUC has been able to bring under its fold only less than 20 per cent of our workforce.
The NTUC seems to be everywhere and doing everything including running supermarkets, selling anything from insurance to duck rice, and even running massage and funeral parlors – everything except looking after the interests of our workers.
What is most obnoxious is that NTUC is in collusion with the government to indiscriminately let in foreigners to take away the jobs of our workers. One-third, or more, of the workforce in Singapore is made up of foreigners.
The uncontrolled influx of cheap foreign labor has led to our workers reduced to doing contract and casual jobs.
It is common to see our workers holding two jobs with long working hours just to survive. In contrast, our ministers demand millions of dollars in what they call salary.
The PAP government manages one of the most centrally controlled economies in the world and it often intervenes and manipulates market forces with the result that our workers are left high and dry at the mercy of the employers.
There’s no minimum wage. The PAP government and the NTUC are sacrificing the workers’ right to earn a decent living wage by retaining labor intensive industries whose needs are met by the foreign cheap labor.
Most of the jobs created go to foreigners, leading to economic hardship and displacement of Singaporeans.
This downhill path of depending on cheap labor is badly hurting the morale of our workers and their productivity.
Another bugbear is inflation that has hit a 26-year high. To a certain extent the problem is global. But the major responsibility for this high inflation has to be borne by the Government that has introduced a slew of increases for govt services including ERP gantries, GST, transport costs, hospital charges and exorbitant fees at institutions of higher learning while foreigners are provided with subsidized and free education with taxpayers’ money.
The continued neglect of Singaporeans have led to families finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the constant upping in the price of essentials while their incomes remain stagnant or further suppressed by the foreign cheap labor.
School children go hungry because they can’t afford to pay for the food at the canteen. Can you imagine all this is happening in a First World country that Singapore claims to be?
The Government claims that a record number of 234,900 jobs were created last year, up from 176,000 jobs in the previous year.
But of these only 38 per cent of them went to locals, which include permanent residents. We are not given the unemployment rate for citizens.
Here I remember what the founding chairman of the PAP, Dr Toh Chin Chye said some time back.
He said that he did not believe the statistics and data put out by the government and that we don’t know whether we are on solid rock or thin ice!
But billions of dollars of our reserves are being used to rescue sinking Western banks and financial institutions ravaged by the sub-prime crisis. But when it comes to helping our poor with an additional $30 in allowance a month, extensive debate takes place.
The Singapore Democratic Party wants our workers to regain their lost rights and free themselves from the clutches of the greedy, exploitative and dictatorial PAP and its approved NTUC.
The fact that PAP ministers and MPs are running the union makes a mockery of the labor movement.
Our workers must be allowed to form independent trade unions to protect their interests. Employers, including those from the US, Germany and Japan have their own organizations in Singapore to ensure that their demands are met. But our workers have no say in their own country.
Forty-nine years of PAP rule and domination has led to a mass exodus of our bright and young to other countries.
This is due to PAP’s economically, socially and politically stifling attitude.
Those who are unable to emigrate find themselves increasingly displaced by foreign workers who are prepared to accept low wages.
What happened to PAP’s core value of placing community interest first before self?
Like other PAP promises of more good years, a golden period and that no one will be left behind, this one is also an empty rhetoric.
Let’s not be fooled by the PAP and its NTUC on this May Day.
It’s time that we say enough is enough. Let us unite to call for the repeal of the archaic and draconian anti-labor laws that shackle the labor movement.
We are in a different age where innovation and creativity are crucial talents if our country is going to compete in the league of First World nations.
To do this we cannot have a First World for the PAP with Third World wages for our workers.
On May 1, my colleagues and I will be at Toa Payoh Central to mark Workers’ Day.
We will have the Tak Boleh Tahan petition calling on the Government to stop exploiting our workers.
Come and join us for the day and support the campaign. I look forward to seeing you.
Together, let us work towards a free and democratic Singapore where prosperity belongs to all.
Thank you. Happy MAY DAY.