# Protest against White Paper on Population – We are in denial

Transcript of Leong Sze Hian’s speech, scroll to the bottom for the whole audio recording of Leong Sze Hian’s speech.

I read in the news yesterday, the fare review committee has been asked to delay their report until May.

Why?

So that they can think more about helping the disabled, the lower income and the polytechnic students?

Almost year after year, the disabled has been asking for concession fare. If you can decide to spend S\$1.1 billion to help the two transport operators and now they say its more than S\$1.1 billion.

Why can’t you spend a single cent over the years to help the disabled?

Find me another country in the world that increased transport fares nine times in the last twelve years, nine years out of twelve years.

If you want to count the change to distance fare as an increase or decrease which is arguable then that is ten times not nine times.

Singapore is in a state of denial, Singapore is in the state of denial.

Because we ignore the stark reality of the statistic. We ignore how bad things are. We keep talking as if everything is fine, everything is rosy. What has not work in the past is not somehow by magic work in the future.

Let me give you some examples.

In the population white paper, in the debate it was said something along the line that we don’t grow GDP, the lowest 20th percentile of workers by income will suffer the negative real wage increase. They went on to show you figures to show you that the lowest 20th percent actually had real wage increase.

Listen to this. In the last ten years. 20th percentile’s wages real increase of 0.1% per annum. After ten years, 1% increase. Imagine you earn one thousand dollars ten years ago, you are low income worker, every year got one dollar real income increase, after ten years you have ten dollars. And we can talk and debate the population white paper and say it is statistic to show you that even the lower income had an increase in real income.

We are in denial!

Last year, your median gross wage real increase was minus negative. The previous year 2011 it was negative. 2010, increased a miserable 0.5%. 2009, minus, 2008, minus. Five years, median real income growth, for five years, four years negative and we keep talking about the population white paper as if all these pro-growth, all these open door labour policies will continue to give the stark statistics that I described to you for Singaporeans, will your life get better like this?

Many of you might not realize, that last year or the last five years of the four years. The real wage income was negative. Because when you read the headlines, when you see the narrative in the labour reports, they all say you have real income growth because why? Because in the past, they only show you the wage data excluding employer CPF contribution. In recent years, now they have two sets of numbers. Now they have a number, “including CPF contribution”. So you don’t know is because of this new definition.

You know we are in denial. We ignore all the bare statistics, we only focus on the ones that look good.

We used to talk about the median income of all workers.  All workers means full time and part time. Now you see the narratives, the headlines. They always talk about the wages of full time workers only. Let me explain to you, how by magic you can make everybody earn more money.

You want to learn?

<crowd replied yes>

A few years ago, they changed the definition of a part time worker in Singapore. It used to be you work 30 hours or less, you are part time. Then they changed it. You work 35 hours or less, you are part time. So overnight by the stroke of pen, everybody earn more money.

You know why?

All the part timers, all out of the sudden have all these people from earning over 30 to 35 hours become part time, so all these part time earn more money right? Then the full timers all those who worked from 35 hours to 31 become part timers. So the remaining full timers also earned more money.

We are in the state of denial! We have to look at the real statistics.

The latest labour vanacy report says, there are 56.400 jobs that nobody wants.

<Crowd jeers>

Year after year, Singaporeans are so fussy, you got so many jobs, nobody wants. Let’s examine the statistics more closely. Which category of workers have the largest number of vacancies.

<Someone in crowd shouts toliet cleaner>

Toliet cleaner, ah no lar. It is service and sales workers. More than ten thousands vacancies service and sales workers. Are these jobs that Singaporeans don’t want?

<Crowd replies “No”>

It is very strange because you look at the unemployment rate figures, which category of jobs have the highest unemployment rate? The same category, service and sales workers. How can the highest unemployment rate also have the most jobs that nobody wants?

I tell you why, why i think it is like this. The reason why you have this strange phenomena. It is because the Singaporeans who used to work as service and sales workers when they lose their jobs. They cannot find a similar job that will pay them enough for the same number of hours to enable them to make ends meet. And that is why they are unable to find a job when they lose their job.

In this category, we have waiters at the 25th percentile gross wage, the waiters’ gross wage at the 25th percentile is only 900 over dollars. You are Singaporeans, how to survive on 900 over dollars a month? This is gross wage, haven’t deduct your employee CPF contribution of 20%.

So far, I talked about wages. Ya, some people have wage increase because they working longer hours. Which workers work the longest hours in the world?

<Crowd shouts “Singapore!”>

3 out of 10 older workers work more than 48 hours a week. You know you look at the lower income jobs, you look at the statistics you know. It pains my heart, you know why?

They get a bit more money, why? Because their typical work day is 12 hours a day for 6 days a week, everyday, every week for the rest of their life. And how much they get for working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week? Just over a thousand dollars. You know an eminent economist, i don’t need to mention his name, everybody knows who is he. The eminent economist said, “We need wage shock therapy, we should give an immediate increase of 50 dollars to those Singaporeans who are earning less than one thousand dollars.

What was the response? Everybody the government, the unions, the employers all said, “No no no no”.  You cannot increase this miserable 50 dollar, only productivity go up then we can increase the wages. What rubbish is this? I said earlier that we ignore the stark reality, we assume that oh, what have not worked in the past will work. Productivity, all the enhancement schemes, all the money, the scheme never work. Because productivity is not going up. So if you have to wait productivity to go up to get a wage increase for low income, so you die lar.

In the debate of the population white paper. It was said that the paper it actually proposes to slow down the intake of new citizens and foreign workers. Let’s look at the real statistics.

The last reply in parliament, intake of new citizens in 2011, 15,777 new citizens. 15,777. What does the population white paper tells you. Projected, target, best case scenario, worst case scenario, whatever you want to call it lar. Project as many as 25,000 new citizens a year going forward. 15 thousand plus to 25 thousand, is this a slow down in intake ah?

In 2011, the intake of PRs was 27,500. In the population white paper, it says it will take in as many as 30,000 PRs going forward. 27,500 increased to 30,000 every year going forward. Is also a slow down in the intake ah?

Last year, growth in foreign employment 70,000. White paper, from now to 2020, project foreign workers increase from 1.49 million to as much as 1.9 million. You add all these together new citizens, new PRs, new workers, slow down in the intake?

We are in denial!

My time is up, so i have to end.

I tell you that the very basis of the white paper is wrong. Because it says the population is aging, people are not producing babies that is why we need immigration. You know what’s the problem? In the development countries they have this problem, why? They have pensions, cost government money. Do you have pensions?

<Crowd shouts “No!”>

<Crowd shouts “No!”, with some stopping to think what they just shouted>

In the developed countries, they have universal healthcare. Do you have universal healthcare?

<Crowd shouts “No!”>

The development counties have welfare, do you have welfare?

<Crowd shouts “No!”>

So what is the problem with the population aging when the government is not spending any money on the aging population?

Thank you.