Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)’s Leader Chee Soon Juan took to his Facebook on Thursday (19 March) to call out the government to take into consideration the interests and welfare of Singaporean employee rather than bringing more foreign workers into the country to compete with Singaporeans.
As Malaysia imposed the movement restriction orders (MRO) for 14 days, from 18 March to 31 March, many Malaysians working in Singapore crowded to cross the Causeway ahead of the restriction period even late at night in order to be able to keep working in Singapore during this period.
While expressing his empathy towards the predicament of Malaysian workers, Mr Chee also voiced out that the Singapore government should be more concerned about the conditions of their local employees.
Noting that there are about 300,000 employees from Malaysia who work in Singapore, some of whom are bus drivers, Mr Chee questioned that why there are so many foreigner bus drivers instead of local bus drivers in Singapore.
He said, “One of the reasons is because only Malaysian workers are willing to accept the low wages which is not enough for Singaporeans to sustain a living.”
Singaporean would be willing to work low-skilled jobs if the job wages and conditions are as good as in Northern Europe
Speaking on the perception of Singaporeans trying to avoid the low-skilled jobs, Mr Chee believed that Singaporean would be willing to work these jobs if the wages and conditions are as good as in the countries of Northern Europe.
He pointed out that the people in countries such as Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland are willing to work as bus drivers, cleaners, constructions workers and housemaids, while those countries also did not import foreign labours from India, China and Malaysia.
“Let’s us make a comparison of the average monthly wages between the bus drivers around the world: Singapore ($1,800), Denmark ($6,193), Finland ($3,910), Norway ($6,260) and Sweden ($4,480).
“These figures cited from the speech of Professor Tommy Koh in 2012, although it may have some changes now, but it does not have much difference,” he wrote in his post.
Mr Chee noted that the average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Singapore is similar to these countries, though the economic systems in those countries are considered the most expensive in the world. But it is also same in Singapore.
Comparing with high taxes in Northern Europe, he said that Singapore has high taxes as well though it was in different forms. However, he added that the public services in those countries do not charge additional fees or only charge at minimum fees.
“On the other hand, Northern Europe has been categorised as the happiest nation in the world according to many research although their system may appears as less than perfect,” he said.
Singapore current economic model is “slowly killing the living of people”
In response to the concern of whether the developing countries can maintain such wages, Mr Chee asserted that the higher salaries in Singapore get, the better spending power Singaporeans could have, and consequently benefit local businesses.
In fact, he pointed out that the current situation in Singapore is “slowly killing the living of people” while adding that the citizens will continue to be tormented by mental health issues, work pressure as well as financial burdens.
Mr Chee reiterated that the ruling government—People Action Party (PAP)—“deprives the vulnerable group” by bringing the foreign labours to contend with Singaporeans in order to weaken the vulnerable group.
“It is not only a joke as this reflect our nature of current economic model (do recall back Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had warned us that foreigners stole our lunch),” he added.
After the coronavirus epidemic is eventually solved, he urged the people to put attention on this issue; otherwise, it could become a key concern to the country and people.