The following is a comment posted by ‘patriot’ in response to Tan Kin Lian’s article, “Give adequate wages to low income workers”. The comments are unedited and republished here in its entirety.
Me dare not say any word before this because I have never work or reside in a foreign land, so, difficult for me to make comparisons.
But, maybe I can relate my past experience. I was born to a poor farming family and helped out in the farms (vegetable/pig/poultry) as young as six year old. Left school before Senior Cambridge Examination, worked as construction worker with mother after been resettled to Public Housing.
Working at constructions in the late sixties to the eighties meant tough, heavy menial works. Running the cement mixer itself is beyond the understanding of any young Singaporeans. Let me describe; two to three workers man the motor driven mixer, one control the mixer and the other two will have to pour troughs of sand and sometimes fine granite chips and cement (each pack 25 kilogram in weight) into the mixer at chest height. The trough of sand and granite weighed average no less than 40 kg, when there was no water hose for water, water would also had to be manually carried from source and poured into the mixer.
Each cycle of work usually took hours invariably under open sky and exposed us to the elements, the heat, rain and dust etc. As the lowest skilled, we got about $30 a day. Other duties included carrying building materials up and down from the buildings, roads, drains and other structures under constructions. When worksites are far, transport were USUALLY provided, I used bicycle to nearby sites.
Despite the hard works, my mother, me and others accepted our fates with little complaints, in fact we were quite happy working with each others. Cares, concerns and camaraderies were usual amongst workers those days. No CPF, Insurance, Medical Benefits and yet we were happy. My mother brought up five children, none with much education, the highest was me.
I served NS, got married and is presently an unemployed grandad and as poor as ever. Those earlier days, we were poorer but happier, now we are materially sufficient but I have no happy feelings. Politics, self centredness and boastfulness are everywhere, at the workplace, market, school and estate. Laws and Regulations of every imaginations cover every facets of livings, did someone accurately said we are birds kept in cages?
Leaders care for their remunerations, foreigners came in to take away our jobs and living space. Unskilled jobs almost all taken by foreign workers. Choice housings and locations are purchased by wealthy foreigners. So, where do we stand? Struggling and yet hardly can survive.
And all our leaders could tell us is for us to upgrade, upgrade! They are taking us, the Citizenry, as morons. They think we are blind to those professionals and managers getting displaced, replaced and retrenched, became jobless, went into taxi driving, security job that pay them peanuts. Why are these people suffering such fates? THE FAULTS LIE WITH NATIONAL POLICIES THAT HAVE BEEN AND BEING DISHED ONTO US, SHOVED ONTO US!
DOES ANYONE WANTS TO UPGRADE TO WHERE THE SAID PROFESSIONALS AND MANAGERS WERE AND SUFFERS THEIR FATES, AFTER SPENDING MONEY AND TIME AND NEGLECTING ONES’ FAMILY IN THE PURSUIT OF UPGRADING?
AT THIS POINT, I WANT TO SAY TO THE LEADERSHIP; GO ON AND ENJOY YOUR POWER, WEALTH AND PERKS BUT JUST RETAIN A LITTLE CONSCIENCE FOR YOUR CITIZENS. IT IS NEVER TOO MUCH FOR US TO ASK FOR A LITTLE UNDERSTANDING FROM YOU.
YOU LEADERS ARE MATERIALISTIC, THAT DOES NOT MEAN WE THE CITIZENS ENVY YOU, MOST CITIZENS ARE SANE ENOUGH TO WANT A SPIRITUAL WELLBEING WHICH YOU MAY NOT FANCY.