The working poor

Speech delivered by Dr James Gomez at the SDP`s pre-election rally on 13 Nov 2010 at Hong Lim Park.

Fellow Singaporeans, friends, ladies and gentlemen.

Today we are here to launch SDP’s Economic Programme – It’s About YOU.

I am so happy to see so many of you here today. This clearly shows that we can effectively use new media to reach out directly to you. The power of internet and social media has given us this opportunity. So, thank you for being here.

In these few minutes with you, I want to speak about why SDP’s Alternative Economic Programme is all about YOU.

In this context, there are two issues that I want to highlight that concerns all YOU;

One: “What is troubling Singapore now?”

Two: “How the current economic circumstances will affect Singaporeans moving forward?”

For the first question, the answer is very clear: it is the way the economy has been mismanaged by the PAP.

Let me explain: in the last few years, we have been blindsided by the PAP mishandling the economy. This has resulted in:

– rising cost of living

– and the depression of wages through the influx of foreign workers in Singapore.

This mismanagement of the economy by PAP is unacceptable and has hurt all of us, -the hardworking Singaporeans. The hurt is painful. So, what do we do?

My second issue is “How the current economic circumstances will affect Singaporeans moving forward?”

My answer: Sad to say: Is that it will affect us very badly. With this rate of damage done to the economy by the PAP and with no one effectively standing up and speaking out against the PAP it is going to get worse.

As you know, Singapore is built by immigrants. Our forefathers worked tirelessly to build a better future for their children and their generations to come. We owe them our respect, love and gratitude and to look after them in their old age.

After the British colonialists left Singapore, and now nearly under 50 years of PAP rule, we have become poor. We have nothing to show for in terms of a better quality of life and all indications are that it will get worse.

50 years of PAP rule has made YOU and me POOR in many ways.

For instance;

You may have a roof over your heads, but you are poor because YOU do not own your homes and because YOU are forever in debt. Otherwise you rent or you are literally homeless which is worse.

You are poor in spirit because YOU live in fear. The PAP has sets up laws to restrict YOUR freedoms and lifestyles and keeps YOU poor in terms of political participation.

You may possess the key features of modernity such handphones, computers, cable TV and other household goods, but YOU are struggling to pay them. Every month the bills keep getting higher. Under the PAP, You Pay and Pay!

You use a modern transport system of roads and public transport that you have paid for through your taxes, but your experience on this system is poor. Transport in Singapore keeps getting more expensive and overcrowded. We worry often about how much credit we have on our EZ-link card.

When we talk about being poor let us not forget the fairer sex, our mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and female relatives. They too have to work and yet many of them have to be homemakers at the same time. In some cases they have to bring up children alone without child support. Women in many ways have been made poorer than men in PAP`s Singapore.

We have a CPF scheme that YOU and I have to pay into, yet at the end of the day it is not enough to retire on. Retirees these days constantly worry about how to cut their daily living costs to survive. The PAP, instead of allowing YOU to accumulate reasonable surpluses for a peaceful retirement, is making YOU poorer with age. That is to say: the PAP makes you work hard when you are young and healthy, but they lets YOU die poor as you get older.

Our fore fathers did not come to Singapore to die poor. But with the PAP mismanaging the economy it is making us all die poor.

My fellow Singaporeans, YOU deserve better!

PAP has turned Singapore in a place where it is no longer viable to live, to raise a family and to live in prosperity.  The PAP is pushing Singaporeans out of their own country to seek these basic desires overseas. This is not right!

When I first considered going into politics in 2001, I highlighted the idea of The New Poor and how it was affecting Singaporeans.

Back then, the New Poor were Singaporeans who could no longer afford a middle-class lifestyle the PAP had promised. Many people around their 40s started losing their jobs and had to look for other alternative employment at much lower rates and with ever increasing living costs. At that time the PAP said there was no such thing – that is, there were no New Poor in Singapore.

Fast-forward ten years, the situation has become worst because the situation has changed from The New Poor to The Working Poor.

We have a situation now where there are individuals and families who maintain regular and intermittent low paid employment but remain in relative poverty. This is due to the depressed levels of pay and the high living costs associated with an urban environment like Singapore.

This is the result of the PAP`s mismanagement of economy. It has resulted in creating the Working Poor among YOU.

Under PAP continued rule, Singapore’s standard of living and quality of life has dropped and will drop further. The quality of living in Singapore is no longer comparable to first world standards.

YOU, the hard working Singaporeans continue to work harder, yet YOU are now caught in a new poverty trap.

A principle reason for this is the large influx of foreign workers. The PAP says they are cheap labour. The PAP also insists that we Singaporeans must acknowledge that these foreign workers are harder working than us. However, their numbers are getting bigger and bigger. It has gone out of control and this has to stop.

Further, the sad truth is some of these foreign workers are better off than YOU, the real Singaporeans. Why? Because, YOU, the real Singaporeans have become the Working Poor in your own country.

This poverty trap will continue to be a huge problem in the years ahead. That is why we are here today in this rally so that we can make this problem go away. YOU do not deserve to be the Working Poor. YOU are Singaporeans. YOU are hardworking. YOU deserve better.

That`s why SDP`s economic programme is titled `Its About YOU`.

So, how can we solve this poverty trap of the Working Poor?

My answer: Minimum wage – combined with the other recommendations in SDP`s economic programme.

Unfortunately, PAP does not believe in this.

Many countries, have applied Minimum Wage to combat this poverty trap and from time to time adjust it to match the rise in inflation. But, sorry my friends, the PAP doesn’t think minimum wage is the way to go for our workers. Instead they spend time thinking about the maximum wage for themselves.

We have spent over 50 years under one party rule that is PAP. That’s a very long time. And it has been too long that it has become unsuitable for modern day Singapore.

Further we must stop the PAP from paying themselves millions of dollars from your tax payments while they continue to keep YOU poor.

There needs to be a change if we want to move forward

So do you want change? Do you?

Good….so, then the PAP has to go.

My dear friends and fellow Singaporeans, today SDP is launching its Economic Programme.

With this programme, it will help improve Singapore’s economy and introduce better management in government.

More importantly, we can protect ourselves from the consequences of PAP’s bad policies that are turning YOU and YOUR families into the Working Poor.

Ladies and Gentleman, YOU know how the PAP has mismanaged the country and the economy.

You also now know how PAP’s bad policies are affecting YOUR future.

But you also need to know who will stand up for YOU to raise legitimate issues against the PAP.

And that is the SDP.

So, if there is one message I want YOU to take home tonight, it is this:

The SDP will speak up and work for YOU, the Working Poor. Because the PAP has made you poorer in so many ways –

Poor in spirit

Poor in health

Poor in self-esteem

Poor in old age

Poor in death

You can no longer afford to let the PAP ruin YOUR life.

YOU must take ownership of YOUR own future.

And as a member of SDP, I am here to be YOUR voice.

YOU are important because YOUR future is at stake.

Let me ask how many of you want to have a better future? Please put up your hands.

Good……because YOU deserve it!

Share with me your concerns. And let me carry YOUR voice for YOU.

Remember: YOU can make the difference.

The future is YOU.

So, let’s start NOW!

S-D-P  OUR Voice.

Thank you and good night!