Subscriber updates 18-24 Aug

As our new and overwhelmingly Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) members of parliament (MP) are sworn in and while an ongoing legal dispute over breaches of service contracts between some bus drivers and SBS Transit trundles its way through the court system, newly minted Minister for Transport, Ong Ye Kung (who is also MP for Sembawang GRC) has taken to social media to publicly praise bus drivers for their contributions to society. While Ong’s public words are no doubt appreciated, it does beg the question of whether or not our highly paid ministers understand that beyond words, people need action? Will Ong take action against errant transport bosses? This remains to be seen.

All this goes back to growing concerns that workers’ rights in Singapore (and especially at the more blue collar level ) are not being looked after. It also adds fuel to the ongoing concerns about the number of foreigners in Singapore taking jobs in the PMET sector that Singaporeans can also fulfil. From a more holistic point of view, there is increasing evidence that the entire labour sector in Singapore might be due for an overhaul.

However, can this overhaul happen if those on top are not able or are unwilling to see that change is needed?

Wife of Prime Minister and CEO of the powerful Temasek Holdings, Ho Ching has recently berated people for not making their complaints on unfair hiring processes through proper channels such as the MOM. This seems to display a disconnect between those who hold power and those who are trying to make a living. Does Ho not realise that the average Singaporean does not have the forum that she has and will not be able to get the ear of government agencies such as MOM the way she can?

Flowing from this, one wonders if those in power and those not in power have a different understanding of what it means to take action on your words? Apart from Ong apparently praising bus drivers without addressing pay grievances, it would appear that our president also believes that words are worth more than action. Just recently, President Halimah Yacob has via a Facebook post said that discrimination against anyone has “no place at all in Singapore society. While her statement may be true, is she completely oblivious to the fact that they directly contravene Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat’s statements last year when he said that older Singaporeans were not ready for a non Chinese Prime Minister? If Madam Halimah’s words ring true to her, then surely she must make a stand against Heng’s seemingly racist statements? Unless of course, it is a case of words over action?

In other news, it would appear that the authorities are still struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19 amid the migrant worker dormitories despite several government agencies releasing a joint statement just a week ago saying that testing within dormitories have been completed. Despite the government’s earlier press release,  the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) have now released a joint statement, revealing that there were 58 newly confirmed coronavirus cases linked to the Sungei Tengah Lodge cluster.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to wreak havoc on our economy, a report on the Straits Times’ report has  revealed that Workers aged 35 to 44 and lower-income earners have been hit hardest by pay cuts. This has led leader of the Peoples’ Voice Party, Lim Tean to question if the government has done enough to support lower income earners? In his words, the actual amounts of the Government’s financial scheme are “abysmally small” and insufficient to help Singaporeans get through this difficult period. 

There have also been reports stating that an employer of migrant workers residing at Westlite Toh Guan dormitory, which is still gazetted as an isolation area has revealed that his workers are living inside rooms infested with bedbugs. This once again highlights our authorities seeming disregard for the plight of those who live on the fringes of society.


Singapore Democratic Party’s Dr. Chee Soon Juan’s mother has passed away.

Singaporean social worker and civil rights activist Jolovan Wham has begun his 10-day jail sentence for organising an indoor event featuring Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong via a Skype call four years ago.  After his appeal against the sentence was denied, Wham said :“the panel of 5 judges can hide behind their legalese but any functioning democracy with a true respect for the rule of law and our Constitutional rights would not have found me guilty of hosting a peaceful, indoor discussion with only 50 people,

As a follow on to Dr. Chee Soon Juan raising concerns about the seemingly high suicide rates among young people in Singapore, it has been reported by he Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) that suicide numbers from those between the ages of 20-29 remained the highest in 2019 among all age groups.


Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has become the longest consecutive term serving prime minister in Japan despite growing health concerns.

The sentencing hearing for the Australian white supremacist who murdered 51 Muslims in last year’s New Zealand mosques shooting has commenced with much media coverage. Lawyers expect the 29-year-old to be the first person jailed for life without parole in New Zealand.

In what could be a thawing of relations between China and the US, it has been reported that the two super powers will soon hold a call on trade.

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