While many argue that the banning and closure of popular online citizen website The Real Singapore by the government is a harsh measure, it must be said that the PAP government is slowly learning how to deal with dissent with civility. Yet, the government is insisting they are applying a "light touch" to the online space. I guess it is a light touch when we compare how communists, leftists and those who oppose the government were locked away without trial in the 60s. At least, no one is being locked away or made a bankrupt now.

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Alleged Rioters Surviving as best they can

The first thing I noticed when we met up with 3 of the 25 workers being charged for participating in the riot was the clear look of exhaustion that was evident on their faces. They were as apprehensive as I was (since it was the first time I had such close communication with foreign workers) as they introduced themselves to us. Arun Kalimurthy, 28, was in Singapore as a tourist when he was caught by the police in the early hours of December 9; while Rajendran Mohan, 25, was working as a spray painter in the Marine sector. Arun spoke extremely fluent English as he explained to us the system in which they were under.

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Targeted minimum wage – a positive step, but more can be done

We note that there are many enforcement and legislative functions in the suggestions above, to ensure that the worker-centric aspirations of this policy do not go to waste through mismanagement. The Ministry of Manpower needs to play an active role here to ensure the right conduct of companies. The fact that the announcement was made by the DPM clearly demonstrates the gravity of the policy and the need to do right by workers. We also hope that MOM will take DPM’s lead and work towards fair wages for all industries in Singapore.

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Re-think the notion of Meritocracy in Singapore

The big picture is to nurture each individual not based on their ability or intelligence but their goals and contributions to society. The abolishment of the school rankings and Primary School Leaving Examination results gave students the equal opportunity to excel in whichever school they go to. It is not the school that brings out the best result or the brightest student but the student who as an individual who strives to do their best and their attitude towards having a good education. With the right infrastructure such as parental support and government appraisal rewards, I am positive that students will want to excel and achieve good results for themselves. Opportunities should be given by the school to every student to have a good education.

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Singapore ranks top 10 expensive cities once again

It is interesting to note that amongst the top 10 most expensive cities in the world, 5 out of 7 of the countries that the cities are situated in all operate on a minimum wage system. San Francisco (ranked 9th) has the highest minimum wage of S$12.65 per hour, followed by New York (ranked 5th) with a minimum wage of S$9 per hour. Even Switzerland, the only country that does not have an official minimum wage other than Singapore, is slowly gearing towards operating based on a minimum wage system – with the Swiss residents being able to vote on whether they want to have this system or not.

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Fair trial for the 53 workers repatriated?

Let’s understand this too – most migrant workers came all the way to Singapore in debt and they contribute to our industries with their labour and skills in exchange of a better life for their families back home. Instead of treating them with such a lack of justice, the least we can do is to let them explain themselves in Court, where evidences will be produced to prove their involvement or innocence in the incident and have all possible mitigating factors considered.

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Basic salary rate is a good start, but does not go far enough

tan chuan-jin

The causes of the Little India riot are of course many and I do not want to over simplify the problem. That being said, I sincerely believe that chronic frustration over their working conditions are a significant part of the equation. It is therefore crucial to address the needs of our construction workers too. In the words of labour activist, Jolovan Wham: “I think it’s a good first step, but this should pave the way for legislation to be enacted eventually… Such a basic wage should apply to sectors like construction, marine and services, for instance, and also apply to workers of all nationalities.”

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SPF Internal Affairs Office initiated investigation on allegation of police violence

Three men, all Indian Nationals in Singapore, have filed a formal complaint of police abuse subsequent to mass arrests following the riots in Singapore’s Little India district which took place on 8 December 2013.
The young men, 2 of whom were working in Singapore, and a 3rd who is an IT Project Manager who was visiting Singapore as a tourist, were accused of rioting and rounded up as suspects following the island nation’s first acts of rioting in more than 40 years.

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Fine and reward bus operators – too much privatisation in a public service

The latest announcement by the Land Transport Authority to penalise and reward public transport operators (PTOs) based on the frequency of delays in buses might have raised a few eyebrows. If not, it really should. Indeed, those who have read the comments in the first report by TODAY would have noted the negative reactions among readers. Clearly, this has not gone down well with the average Singaporean. It is interesting to note that the second report on the issue, by the same author, carried a very different headline – see image above. Perhaps there was a realisation, even by TODAY, of what this penalty-reward scheme really is about?

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No agent fees, no job for you.

“Brother, it is ok that we are sent back if we did not do good in our job. But it is not fair that we are sent back because we are unwilling to pay the agent money. Where is the justice?”
The Online Citizen (TOC) was earlier alerted to a story by one of our readers. She said that she had spoken with a town conservancy worker in her estate and was alarmed to know that he is going to be sent back to his country because he cannot pay the $5,000 agent fees being asked of him.
TOC met with the worker in Pasir Ris.

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