Singapore will assuredly become bankrupt – morally and socially – if people continue listening to the mindset of the ruling party People’s Action Party (PAP) which exploits the weak and poor in society, said the Chief of Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP), Dr Chee Soon Juan, as he appealed to Singaporeans’ “sense of decency”.
In a video posted on Facebook on Thursday (23 April), Dr Chee remarked that the PAP has imposed a mindset that is “very exploitative, bullying, even brutish one” to society as it suppressed the wages of the workers, while the ministers are getting huge amounts of salary.
Referring to the Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who previously quoted in 2018 that at more than S$100,000 a month, the ministers are not paid enough. ESM Goh recounted how his compatriot, Edwin Tong, told that his income was reduced to S$50,000 when becoming a junior minister.
“You heard that right, S$50,000 a month and he was still lamenting about his salary. This is how far removed the ministers are from common folks like you and me,” Dr Chee said.
He continued, “How else can you explain the fact that while ministers pay themselves such huge amounts, they refuse to enact a minimum wage law? It is also this mindset that suppresses the wages of our workers.”
According to Dr Chee, 38 per cent of the 5.7 million population in Singapore are foreign workers and many of them are PMETs competing with Singaporeans, which Dr Chee called the competition a “race to the bottom”.
“The Prime Minister even tells us that if we keep talking about work-life balance, the Vietnamese, Indians and Chinese will steal our lunch. The message? Work harder, work longer, work cheaper,” he said.
Dr Chee believes such mindset had also forced the elderly to continue working after retirement age, as he referred to a statement by the Ministry of Manpower on 23 January: “The increase in the employment rate of Singapore citizens over the last decade was driven most consistently by those aged 65 and over”.
“But the minute you advocate more spending for the poor and the elderly, ministers like Vivian Balakrishnan will scold: How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?” he noted, adding that Mr Balakrishnan waxed hyperbolic when the SDP proposed minimum wage and increased social spending by saying that the SDP will set the country to bankruptcy.
Dr Chee also remarked that the PAP has made the word “compassion” a dirty word as it was hammered into the Singaporeans’ minds that if they practice compassion, the country’s economy will go bankrupt.
“I’m here to tell you quite the opposite, that if we continue listening to the PAP and exploiting the weak and poor in society, we will assuredly become bankrupt – morally and socially bankrupt – and this will tear society apart and ultimately ruin our economy,” he asserted.
Dr Chee also spoke about the news report on 11 April about the wife of a grassroots leader from the People’s Association who showcased their weekend “party house” at Sentosa Cove to media. The grassroots leader is in fact, a businessman who runs a migrant workers’ dormitory.
“To give you an idea of how much this is, a typical four-room BTO flat at this price would cost nearly S$9 million. She described in detail how she furnished her home with exquisite furnishings, even turning one of the rooms into a winter haven where the cold blast from the air-con creates an “icy feeling” and complemented by a fireplace,” Dr Chee explained.
In comparison to that, Dr Chee showed a photo of the migrant workers’ dormitory room and noted, “Now contrast this with these foreign workers who sleep on wooden boards and live in dorms operated by some of these business people. Is one life worth that much and another that little?”
“If the COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it is that we are all in the same boat. And if we are all in the same boat, then the wealthy and the ruling class cannot continue to exploit the rest of society,” he added.
He continued, “I want to appeal to your sense of decency. We are better than this.”