Dear A.S.S. Editors,

I refer to the article “Halimah Yacob steps down as Speaker and MP, resigns from PAP to run for President” (Straits Times, Aug 8).

It states that “She noted that she started her career with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) after graduating in 1978, and served for 30 years in various roles including as Deputy Secretary-General and Director of Legal Services, where she fought for workers’ rights.

“I am proud to say that my colleagues and I worked tirelessly to get the best results for our workers. I fully understood their concerns and shared their joys, and I am honoured that I was able to contribute to their continued well-being,” she said.

The experiences and insights she gained with the labour movement were invaluable, and it became not just a job, but a calling, she added.”

In connection with “workers’ rights” – let’s look at some labour statistics.

2015-16: Employment growth – 11,400 locals, 37,300 foreigners?

In the two years from January 2015 to December 2016 – employment growth was 11,400 for locals and 37,300 for foreigners.

So, how many of the 11,400 jobs growth to locals went to Singaporeans, against the 61,005 new PRs granted, and 42,917 new citizens granted in the same two-year period?

Why is there no breakdown of the job statistics into Singaporeans and PRs, when the unemployment statistics have the transparency to breakdown the “locals” data?

The minimum wage in Australia is A$18.29 (S$19.02) an hour from 1 July, 2017.

In contrast, Singapore has no minimum wage, and there are people working for as little as around S$5 an hour.

Singapore has on a relative basis among developed countries – probably the highest percentage of low income workers (about 8% – 172,900 resident workers earn below $1,000; about 19% – 407,400 resident workers earn below $1,500).

We may have one of the highest poverty rates in the world as measured by the percentage of workers earning less than half the median income – about a fifth of the total Singaporean workforce.

Mr Li Shengwu has said that “Not only do I intend never to go into politics, I believe that it would be bad for Singapore if any third-generation Lee went into politics. The country must be bigger than one family”.

Similarly, by the same token (“bad for Singapore”) – the elected President should arguably, not be from the ruling party, because if you read the Parliamentary debates when the elected presidency was first proposed – its primary purpose was to be a check on the Government.

Leong Sze Hian
A.S.S. Contributor

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