This is an excerpt of an article published on Singapore 2025.

Pritam Singh/

Source: ST


One concern of many Singaporeans lies in the immediate and long-term well being of our low-income workers, and the utility of measures the government may consider to reasonably protect or even inoculate them against the vagaries of business cycles, inflation and the rising cost of living in Singapore. A separate quandary revolves around how our low-income workers can be expected to raise their children and fulfil their life aspirations in a Singapore that already hosts one of the world’s wildest income gaps between the rich and poor.

Even before parliament discussed the minimum wage in some detail on 12 Jan 2011, the PAP decided, through the mainstream media no less, that the minimum wage option was not on the cards. As far as the “debate” went, it was David against Goliath right from the outset.

On Goliath’s side, and as early as October 2010, NTUC (comprising of more than 60 affiliate unions representing 530,000 workers) Secretary-General Lim Swee Say went so far to say that minimum wage adherents were looking for an “easy way” out. The Singapore National Employers Federation (comprising 2000 members employing 600,000 workers) also weighed in with him, albeit with an intuitively powerful argument – that costs will go up and jobs lost if the minimum wage was implemented. The spirit of these arguments mirrored much of what PAP MPs repeated in parliament in January 2011.

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