The following is a letter to TOC from Max Chua.

Dear people at TOC, First of all, thank you for being such a fabulous site!! 🙂

Currently, there is a situation that I feel needs to be promptly addressed or looked into, at this present moment of economic crisis/financial turmoil.

Apart from people (especially citizens) loosing their jobs, getting retrenched, becoming unemployed, which is one problem, the other is that these same people ARE NOT getting back the same level of pay/salary even when they are REHIRED. The excuses (real or imagined) the employers will give now are usually, “oh times are bad, we can only afford to pay you this little… etc etc….  we have a certain budget…. etc etc”

(I don’t have exact statistics or figures but from ground sentiments and observations I believe the trend is on-going, and it greatly affects middle and lower level workers, more so than top level workers)

The impact is that, with the reduced income, A LOT of people are NOT going to be able to cope with their bills, commitments, lifestyles, and expenses that they once were able to afford with their previous salaries. While it’s easy to tell them to readjust their spending and expenses, some things are just not so “adjustible”. For example, if a family has 3 children, can you simply just tell them to live on the budget of 2 children just to make ends meet, while at the same time trying to convince the sole bread winner of the family who has just got retrenched to accept a rehired pay which is 2/3 (or even less) of what he used to be getting?  To a foreign worker who is single and not staying around long, it may not matter. BUT for people (locals especially), who have dependents or even housing/car/insurance/bills commitments, it becomes a BIG issue. You cannot just simply tell people to adjust by giving up/downgrading ALL or SO MANY of these things overnight. It’s easier to said than done.

So to summarise, what I want to put across is this. Don’t just undercut our pay while all other things are rising and increasing (fares, inflation) and just blame it on the recession. I believe more analysis (with regards to maybe even really looking into accounts) by some official government body is needed than to just simply accept what employers dish out these days.

We employees cannot just be at the mercy of employers just because of desperation to make ends meet. There should be some form of control in check, to prevent abusive, unethical practice. The question is: who shall enforce the checks?

Well, I have to end here. The debate on a minimum wage has been going on for too long (or has it been brushed aside? hmmm.. ). There is definitely a need to implement this at some point in time. Because, as far as I can see, the effects of undercutting workers’ salary perpetually will not come to any good (not for
the general population) in time to come.

Thanks for your time.

Best Regards,


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