The following post is published on March 3, 2011 at Kirsten Han's blog.
I can’t go to sleep until I share this.
First – three news articles for your perusal.
Mr Tharman noted that there will invariably be some families with unique circumstances, for whom the package does not fully cover increases in the cost of living this year.
For those who need extra help, the government and the community have in place many assistance schemes.
THE Government has no plans to intervene directly on the issue of parental leave and prefers that workers iron it out with their employers and unions, the Minister-in-charge of ageing issues said on Wednesday.
Mr Lim Boon Heng also turned down MPs’ requests for more financial support for those who care for their elderly parents.
The strong economic performance of 2010 will translate into higher pay for civil servants this year.
Minister-in-Charge of the Civil Service, Teo Chee Hean, told Parliament on Wednesday that annual salaries will return to levels before the downturn in 2008.
Senior officers will also get the maximum GDP Bonus this year, with some getting as much as eight months’ pay.
So in a nutshell: the government budget gives people “more than required” to face their financial woes. However, they are NOT going to give more financial support to the people who have to take care of their elderly parents. But look, they have the money to increase the pay of the civil servants, plus give senior officers an EIGHT MONTHS BONUS.
I’m sorry, but this needs to be said: WHAT THE FUCK.
Singapore has an ageing population, with our fertility rate absolutely dismal. This means that there are going to be more and more elderly citizens who need to depend on their children for support. These children might also have to face the relentless rising cost of living, retrenchment, wage suppression, pay cut, pay freeze, increasing cost of childcare, etc. etc. It is not a surprise at all that there will be people – especially at the lower income level – who are going to need more financial support to take care of their parents. However, not only will the government not give them more financial support, it will not even step in to take a stance on the issue of parental leave.
On the other hand, the government is happy to give senior civil servants a bonus of eight months. Eight months. Seeing that senior civil servants are already paid a ridiculous amount in the first place (after all, Singapore does have one of the world’s highest paid civil servants) an eight months bonus is absolutely out of this world.
So once again the lower income level suffers, gritting their teeth and working longer and longer hours to scrape together enough to support their families, grateful for the money from the government but unable to touch it because most of it isn’t in the form of cash. The elderly will have to ignore their aching bones and go out to get jobs as cleaners and cardboard collectors to help their cash-strapped children. Meanwhile, senior civil servants not only find their pay increasing, but get a hefty bonus. The income and class divide widens a little more.
Just like a friend of mine pointed out: in other countries, governments take money secretly, siphoning it off bit by bit. In Singapore, our government takes our money openly.
You know what frustrates me the most about this whole thing? That it will probably go through with very little protest. People will get angry, some people – like me – will blog about it, but majority of the Singaporeans will do nothing beyond grumbling in coffeeshops. Despite our moans and groans, at the end of the day we Singaporeans will allow this to happen. We will let them turn our little country into a rich man’s playground, while the life of the poor gets harder and harder. How long more can this go on? How long more before enough of us say, “This is NOT okay”?
It’s just like when the government declared that all cause-related activities will be regulated by permit regardless of number of participants (meaning that it is illegal for even oneperson to protest without a permit). Or increased their salary. Or when they wanted to up the CPF withdrawal age. Or increased their salary. Or introduced Cooling Off Day. And oh, did I mention… increased their salary?
I’m glad that the elections are coming. Because I have had ‘more than required’ of this.