Category: Current Affairs
Published on Tuesday, 08 September 2015 15:19
Written by Ang Bao Chua
Each political party campaigning in the General Election 2015 has its own agenda and unique goals to achieve to better the lives of Singaporeans. Let us take a quick walk through the Workers' Party manifesto and get to know a little bit better about how its ideologies will affect Singapore.
The WP wants to create a Singapore consisting mainly of Singaporeans by solving the problem of our aging population by increasing birth rates, assisting Singaporean families with childcare, education and work life balance, prioritising foreign spouses and children of Singaporeans for citizenship, and maintaining at least 10% of the land as reserves for future generation.
They are also looking to limit the number of foreign workers to grow a sustainable economy. A major gripe of many Singaporeans is how Singapore is being rapidly taken over by foreigners who are causing the job market to be inundated. By implementing a solution for this, this would open up more job opportunities for Singaporeans who have in the past find it extremely hard to compete with foreigners for their dream jobs.
WP also has other ideas for:
a) Increasing workers' incomes
- Increasing cash payout portion of Workfare
- Instituting national minimum wage
- Introducing an Employment Security Fund to provide for unemployment insurance
b) Enhancing retirement adequacy
- Allowing CPF members to receive monthly CPF payouts earlier
- Linking CPF LIFE and Silver Support payouts to inflation
- Paying special dividends to CPF members during good return on investment of CPF monies
c) Implementing a more holistic and equitable education system
- Reducing class sizes
- Moving away from high-stakes examinations
- Offering a 10-Year Through Train School Programme from Primary 1 to Secondary 4
- Introducing a Career and Life Skills Programme to raise awareness of different professions
d) Improving healthcare affordability and outcomes
- Enhancing subsidies for preventive and primary care, improving health literacy among the population
- Increasing the utilisation of healthcare technologies
- Setting clear performance targets for health and social care providers
e) Improving public transport quality and affordability
- Having a government-owned National Transport Corporation own and manage rail and bus assets
- Audit public transport operators' performance standards, and set fares in consultation with stakeholders, with fares linked to operators' performance, service quality and reliability
f) Making public housing more affordable and accessible
- Pegging HDB BTO flat prices to median monthly household income of applicants, enabling them to pay off their mortgage within 20 years
- Facilitating the elderly who wish to sublet their flats to increase their retirement income
WP's full manifesto can be found here
It is great that the WP has got most of the major complaints by Singaporeans covered; opening up the job market for more locals, reducing the number of foreigners while adopting a Singaporean-core policy, allowing the retired to withdraw their CPF money earlier, improving the public transport, education and healthcare systems and making public housing more affordable in relation to the applicants' monthly income. However, when you go through WP's manifesto, you might notice that it is interested in implementing minimum wage in Singapore to aid families with low income. The minimum wage idea is a huge topic of debate right now.
It is a popular notion that minimum wage helps the poor in society, ensuring that they don't get taken advantage of and underpaid. With the rising costs of living in Singapore, one might ask how can a hawker center cleaner, a security guard, or a janitor earn enough to keep up with the ever increasing expenses? So people look towards implementing a minimum wage, but there have been countless cases and examples where minimum wage does little to nothing in improving porverty in the countries that implemented it, as listed here
Such countries include the United States, Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, UK, Australia, and Hong Kong. One thing they share in common with each other besides the fact that they have all implemented minimum wage is the high unemployment rates, and these two are correlated.
According to Forbes, “There is abundant evidence that a 10% increase in the minimum wage leads to a 1 to 3% decrease in employment of low-skilled workers (using teens as a proxy) in the short run, and to a larger decrease in the long run, along with rising unemployment.”
The higher the minimum wage, the higher the rate of unemployment in the country as employers cut costs and only hire a limited amount of workers, and the lowest skilled workers will not be able to find jobs. It is already difficult enough as it is trying to find a job in Singapore, implementing a minimum wage will cause more job competition for the lower-income workers, what will happen to those poor uncles and aunties trying to scrape by in life when a younger person comes along who is faster and more efficient in carrying out their job at the same salary?
Minimum wage also tends to stick around for quite some time and hardly change even with inflation. The only time that minimum wages are changed is if workers hold a strike, which we definitely do not want to experience in Singapore. Besides that, with the $1,000 minimum wage that the opposition is looking to set, there would be a lesser chance of pay increments and promotions for our blue-collar workers. Employers may cut back on employee expenses such as training, which will not allow them to progress and better themselves in the jobs. Blue-collared workers would then be stuck at the minimum wage for a very long time.
Does minimum wage still sound like such a great policy?