By Tan Jee Say –
In this third and final part of the Straits Times interview on the occasion of the first anniversary of the 2011 Presidential election, I reproduce the final question from Tessa Wong and my answer.
Question : Complete the sentence: If I were president today…
Answer : If I were president today, I would immediately address the issue of national unity. Society has become even more divided since the last presidential election. The recent win of 2 Olympics bronze medals, instead of being a source of national pride and joy, has resurrected the national debate over unfair privileges for foreigners; it's not just in sports but also other areas such as education, housing and jobs. Singaporeans by and large are still not satisfied with the government's explanation.The tension between Singaporeans and foreigners is serious enough to warrant a fundamental review of all unfair policies and to put them right before society starts to break down.
Below is a screen shot of the recent Yahoo! poll article that shows a deep division among Singaporeans over the Olympic medal win.
I would also address the related issue of gross income inequalities between the rich and poor. Obviously the gap has widened greatly because of the influx of foreign workers. I would push the government to come up with an economic implementation plan that will generate GDP growth based primarily on growth in productivity and local labour force and do away with cheap foreign workers. If we focus our minds on achieving our target of 3% productivity growth and rely on our own local labour force growth of about 1%, we can attain an annual GDP growth rate of 4% which is a good rate of growth for Singapore at this stage of our economic development. And we will achieve this without cheap foreign workers to depress our wages and crowd us out in housing and public transport.
TOC thanks Tan Jee Say for his contribution. The article first appeared on his Facebook here.