PAP policies have helped improve lives of foreign residents

At a community walkabout in Bedok on Sat (27 Jul), Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat told the media that many residents he spoke to during the community visit had expressed support for his PAP government policies and how such policies have improved their lives.

Heng said Singaporeans are fair-minded, and will look at the quality of ideas and the ability to deliver results when they decide which political party or candidate can best serve them and take Singapore forward.

“If Singapore and Singaporeans are well taken care of, I’m sure Singaporeans will know who to place their trust in,” Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing added. “Whether, is it election or non-election time, we must make sure that fellow Singaporeans are well taken care of.”

However, many netizens did not agree with Heng and Chan that their lives have been improved by the PAP. Many commented that Singaporeans are not well taken care of by PM Lee’s government and expressed doubts that 4G leaders like Heng and Chan could do better.

Many young Singaporeans become Grab drivers

In fact, it has been reported that even younger Singaporeans who have been retrenched cannot easily find jobs these days and end up driving Grab.

For example, Shaun Ow, 39, was working in the private sector for some 11 years in various industries before he was retrenched 4-5 years ago. He then tried to find a job for more than a year before giving up. He ended up driving Grab to make ends meet.

He told the media that he has been a private hire car driver for the last three-and-a-half years and manages to earn about $5,000 a month, after accounting for rental, fuel and other miscellaneous charges. But he has to work very long hours, driving everyday for 12 to 14 hours non-stop and obviously with no spare time for his family.

“Passengers sometimes think our job is easy – sitting in an air-conditioned environment is easy. But I always tell them: You find one weekend, have two one-hour breaks for lunch and dinner, and sit in a comfortable sofa for 12 hours just watching TV. You will feel sore backs, sore shoulders, sore necks, sore everywhere,” he said.

Foreign residents’ lives improved

It is still too early to judge if the lives of Singaporeans have been improved by policies like the much touted open-door “foreign talent” policies from the PAP government. But certainly many foreigners who had worked in Singapore earning the highly sought-after S$ have seen their lives improved when they returned home.

For example, it was reported in 2015 that as Singapore celebrated SG50, a village called Ullikkottai in the state of Tamil Nadu in India was also celebrating SG50 too.

In that Indian village, two out of three households have members who had, at some point in their lives, worked in Singapore as construction workers, plumbers, movers and packers, painters, fitters and electricians.

The village used to be littered with mud houses, with large plots of land uncultivated. Today, thanks to the PAP government providing jobs to those Indian villagers, two-storey concrete homes have cropped up amid paddy fields — some even look like bungalows seen around Singapore.

A villager, Mr R.T. Sivanandam, told the Singaporean reporters that he sold his last plot of land to fund his eldest son to work in Singapore. Now, five of his children are Singapore residents with jobs, living in modern Singapore and enjoying a better life.

Today, Ullikkottai has grown from a rural sparse village to one with its own shops, community halls, 24-hour hospitals and ATMs and has become self-sufficient for the most part. Land prices in the village have also elevated considerably, all thanks to the money remitted from Singapore.

These Indian nationals attribute their success to having had the opportunity to work in Singapore. They said it changed their lives. Hence, when PM Lee’s father, Lee Kuan Yew, passed away in March 2015, the whole village mourned as well. On the funeral day, some 300 Ullikkottai’s villagers held a 2km procession in their village to also mourn the late Mr Lee together with Singaporeans in Singapore. A board at the procession read, “The great man who showed us the way to lead a wealthy life.”

Villagers like Mr Sivanandam told reporters that they truly feel “indebted” and “grateful” to Singapore. As Mr Sivanandam said, “My house used to be a mud house.”

Foreign PMETs grateful to PAP government too

It’s not just foreign workers on work permit who are grateful to the Singapore government. Foreign PMETs on high salary are grateful too.

Few years ago, a foreign PMET from Malaysia, Sim Lim Onn, wrote to ST Forum expressing his gratitude to the Singapore government for giving him a chance to work in Singapore.

He said, “We are grateful to Singaporeans for giving us the opportunity to work here and accepting us as part of the Singapore team to ensure the nation stays competitive and prosperous.”

“Many of us appreciate the opportunities given to us and we work hard to ensure our employability. In return, we get higher pay in Singapore and enjoy working and living in a safe, beautiful and orderly garden city,” he added.

“Our relatives and friends admire us for being able to work in Singapore.”

In an interview with ST, Sim revealed that he is a manager working for a MNC. He and his family live in King’s Arcade condominium off Bukit Timah Road.

Apparently, he is quite pro-Singapore and would write letters to ST Forum discussing topics that have an impact on Singapore’s sustainability. He said he likes to contribute ideas to ensure that Singapore continues to be successful.

He is a permanent resident living in Singapore for some 30 years. Even though his wife and son are Singaporeans, for some unknown reasons, he stays as a Malaysian, holding on to his Malaysian passport.

Under the Population White Paper published by the Singapore government, permanent residence is supposed to be “an intermediate status through which foreigners take up citizenship”. However, Sim is happy to remain as a PR.