A People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate was criticized by the netizens over his “elitist” remark about employment for older Singaporeans during the Straight Talk with PAP held on Thursday (2 July).
During the PAP’s talk show, Mohd Fahmi Aliman, who is running in Marine Parade GRC was asked by the moderator to share his experience of walking on the ground.
Noting that his focus of campaigning is about low-wage workers, the PAP’s new candidate then shared a story of how he helped a 55-year-old man who lost his job for two months “move on” from a dishwasher to cleaner.
According to Mr Fahmi, the 55-year-old, who is the sole-breadwinner of family was out of job for 2 months due to COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of this, Mr Fahmi said they helped the man through career coaching while helping him with certain training and upskilling, in order to help them find a job through job-matching.
“So after that, in about two, three weeks later, he got a job. So initially he was a dishwasher, cleaning things…so is that particular group and is 55 years old imagine…and after that when we help him, he moved on to become a cleaner and he got pay increment in that sense,” he said.
He then continues, “And that actually is the good story that (we) can tell people, at that age if you really want to step out of your comfort zone, you look for opportunity for you to train, you look for NTUC… the people will be there to help you. This is where we will help and then find your job, (there are) many of (such) stories.”
Mr Fahmi was the former deputy chief executive of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, and currently is the director of the National Trades Union Congress’ administration and research unit.
Following this, a Facebook post with the video of Mr Fahmi’s making this remark has garnered much criticism from netizens.
The post came with the caption: “PAP elitist mindset: ‘From a dishwasher to cleaner, a good story to tell’. Fahmi Aliman, disappointed in you for such remarks. That’s not upscaling low wage workers.”
The netizens mocked Mr Fahmi for the story he told about “upgrading a 55 year-old sole breadwinner from dishwasher to cleaner”, saying that it’s pathetic that there is no greater significance to the story than that the retired-aged have to continue working to earn their livelihood.
Some netizens also criticised it as a failure of a country that the elderly are forced to work even after the age of retirement even as some may even have some savings in their CPF.
“So the gloomy future for Singaporeans moving forward after GE2020 esp[ecially] for those out of jobs after aged 55 years will likely be looking at filling up cleaners, dishwashers, Grab jobs while most of the senior and managerial jobs are likely to be given to PMETs instead,” one netizen wrote.
The netizens pointed out that “it is such a shame” that this first world country doesn’t appreciate older generation. They said that other first world countries will provide pensions or CPF scheme for retirement and the dishwasher jobs are definitely not for retirees.
A handful of netizens also said that Mr Fahmi should fight for partial CPF withdrawal for the elderly rather than help them to “move on or upgrade” their job with no minimum wage.