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    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/­Sg_Review/message/1455 Mellanie Hewlitt The Truth Behind Singapore s Public Policy Administration Singapore Review 21 Jan 2005
    Message 1 of 73 , Aug 1, 2013
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      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1455

      Mellanie Hewlitt
      The Truth Behind Singapore's Public Policy Administration
      Singapore Review
      21 Jan 2005

      Government led "Family Friendly" benefits and "Flexi-work"
      arrangements often look good only on paper but find very limited
      application outside of the civil service in the real pressure filled
      world of private sector firms and MNCs. This was the bitter lesson
      learnt by Ms Lim Ai Ling when she attempted to cash-in on her "Family
      Friendly Benefits" and instead opened a can of worms. Ms Lim found to
      her horror that a "Flexi-work" public policy does not mean flexi-work
      arrangements in practise.

      Ms Lim's mistake is quite understandable. Many of us assume that public
      policies are more than mere rhetoric and take them at face value
      especially when they are enthusiastically reported in the local
      government owned papers. We mistakingly assume that a "Family Friendly"
      public policy translates into more quality time with our loved ones.
      But the truth is hard to swallow in Singapore. Few realise that most of
      the policies are mere publicity stunts devoid of actual substance and
      one relies on them at his or her own peril.

      To be fair, many firms and Multinational Companies (MNCs) will endorse
      these government led "family friendly" % "flexi-work" packages as part
      of their standard employee welfare program. But they are also faced
      with budget constraints and the constant pressure of keeping costs down
      and achieving a larger workload with the same (or even smaller) number
      of workers.

      Family Friendly = More Time With Family = Less Time in Office
      What the PAP and Singapore's highly paid ministers fail to realize is
      that we cannot eat our cake and have it. For every choice made there is
      an underlying opportunity cost. Most private sector MNCs have already
      optimized workflows and streamlined work protocols so only very little
      room is available for further rationalization exercises. In a fast
      moving work place like this, the opportunity cost of implementing a
      family friendly work environment translates into;

      a) Shorter Work hours;
      b) Lighter work loads;
      c) Employing more staff to do the same amount of work;
      d) Increased labour costs and head-count;
      e) And ultimately a less competitive Singapore work force (and
      infrastructure).

      The logic behind the above is part of Introductory Economics 101;- When
      a company is given fixed (and limited labour resource units), if one
      factor of production is increased while the others remain constant, the
      overall returns will relatively decrease after a certain point.
      http://www.encyclopedia.com/ht%ef%bf%bdml/d1/diminish.asp

      The bottom line is that many department heads, and employers are
      unwilling to accept the above costs which will ultimately eat into the
      net profit and overall financial performance of a firm. The accepted
      norm in Singapore's MNCs is to "over leverage" on fixed labour
      resources so that the department is actually operating on the declining
      segment of the Total Productivity curve. Needless to say this is an
      inefficient allocation or resources as the mix of resource units are
      not optimized. But this is of no consequence to most department heads
      as their only sole objective (to the exclusion of all else including
      worker welfare) is to keep labour costs down.

      In this flawed strategy, worker welfare (and Family Friendly Benefits)
      are interests that directly conflict with the balancesheet / P&L needs
      of the company (and the state).

      Unfortunately, the same flawed strategy is adopted by the Singapore
      government albeit on a larger scale. On a small island with no natural
      resources, the only "resource" which is saleable in order to attract
      foreign investments is HUMAN LABOUR. But if this is the case and the
      average worker should be of prime importance to the overall well being
      of Singapore Inc, Management should implement more friendly work
      policies. Instead, the average worker is exploited and they seem to be
      intent on killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

      Past examples of the PAP Government's "Family Friendly" policies
      include;

      1) Cutting Employer's CPF: Implementing across the board wage
      reductions (in the form of unilateral cuts to employers CPF
      contribution). This was a policy which the PAP government imposed
      harshly with the full knowledge that government census figures showed
      that most Singaporeans workers are still dependent on CPF contributions
      to pay-off their mortgages. See:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/618 and also
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/638

      2) No CPF Restoration in Good Times: During a subsequent economic
      recovery, this same government did not restore Employers CPF
      contributions. The ministers of cause restored their own salaries
      (though it was highly questionable if they ever took a wage cut in the
      first place. See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1234
      But the buck literally stopped before it reached the average Singapore
      worker.

      3) Singapore is a very expensive place to call home. Its ok if you are
      just "passing through" as an expat, but the story is different if you
      try settling here for good. See:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1074

      4) Singapore Workers Over Paid; Inspite of para (3) above, this same
      government also came to the rather far-fetched conclusion that
      Singapore workers were more well paid than their counterparts in the
      US, UK and Australia (see:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/577

      5) Singapore Workers Cannot Retire: Contrary to the assertions of the
      government in para (4) above, it is a fact that Singaporean workers
      will not have enough in their savings to retire on. See:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1413

      6) State Enterprises Live Off Workers: Decades of huge hidden fiscal
      surpluses enrich the Singapore government and state enterprises but
      impoverish the private sector and tax payers. See Far Eastern Economic
      Review: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1153

      7) Its a Crime Not To Top-Up CPF; This same government has made a crime
      if you do not top-up your CPF. Only in Singapore is it possible to be
      taken to court if you owe yourself money. See:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1305

      The list goes on and on but for the sake of brevity we will stop here.
      From the above mix of policies the overall picture is clear. Actions
      speak louder than words. In the grand scheme of things of the PAP
      government, there is no place for workers welfare and "Family Friendly
      Benefits". Of cause it would be political suicide (even in Singapore)
      to publicly admit this truth so in true PAP tradition policies are
      drafted and the government controlled press is enlisted to show case to
      the public that worker's welfare feature prominently in the ruling
      party's priorities.

      Of cause the problem here is that there maybe afew kind unsuspecting
      souls who actually swallow this entire sales pitch, hook line and
      sinker, which brings us bad to the sad story of Ms Lim Ai Ling.

      Then again, with Human Labour as Singapore Inc's only available
      product, do you honestly believe that management of Singapore Inc will
      endorse policies which will degrade the quality and standard of its
      sole product (and life line)? This government's unspoken stand on bread
      and butter issues is that the welfare and well being of the average
      worker is subordinated by those of the "larger" and more "pressing"
      concerns of the state. Like the usual Stalin and Marxist model, the
      average Singaporean worker is expected to make sacrifices for the
      "larger good" of the state.

      This perspective also sits well with the government's current
      anti-labour policies which favour labour representation by a sham
      labour union (NTUC). The existence of strong and real labour union
      representation would not agree with a management strategy which has the
      objective of keeping Singapore Inc's sole product price competitive
      (i.e.cheap) and attractive. There is a negative correlation between
      quality of life and attractiveness of Singapore Inc's prime product.

      In order to placate workers, what we get from "Management" of Singapore
      Inc are a series of measures which look good on paper but were never
      intended to see real actual application in the real work place in the
      private sector. This also explains the reason why there is the very
      conspicuous absence of any real bona fide labour union representation
      here.
      see: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1399

      With unemployment rates remaining at 4.5% p.a. (which sit strangely
      beside reports by the local press of a local economic recovery), the
      status quo in the job market is decidedly in favour of the employer.
      Unlike other developed countries like the US, UK, Australia etc,
      Singapore is not a welfare state, so in the absence of real tangible
      labour union representation the employers hold all the cards on the
      negotiation table. In view of the current conditions desperate workers
      with mortgages to pay are willing to accept lower pay, longer work
      hours and more stressful work conditions.

      The Singapore government has never been a strong proponent of human
      rights (and free speech) so this Stalin/Marxist styled mentality in
      public policy administration is also hardly surprising. However, this
      imperfect state of affairs might be easier to accept if Singapore's
      Ruling Elite also led by example. But this was not the case as
      Singapore's current ministers have conveniently exempt themselves from
      the same policies on wage restraint which they cavalierly impose for
      the rest of the population.
      see: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1373
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1360

      What happens if the average unsuspecting worker takes the "Family
      Friendly" and "Flexi-work" policies of the PAP government at face value
      and attempts to actually see these policies through to actual
      implementation? Ask Ms Lim Ai Ling who was finally retrenched for all
      her efforts.

      We circulate below article from Lim Ai Ling which should be read
      keeping in mind the overall larger "labour friendly" policy mix of the
      Singapore Government. There is more than meets the eye in the shady
      world of public policy implementation and there is a lesson to be
      learnt in this for all would-be believers.

      ------------------------------�------------------------------�------------------------------�------------------------------�------------------------------�--------

      Today
      20 Jan 2005
      Lim Ai Ling

      HERE'S WHY FAMILY-FRIENDLY BENEFITS DON'T FARE WELL HERE
      ------------------------------�--------------------------
      I refer to the report, "Flexi-work arrangements still limited" (Jan
      18).

      It's not surprising that the family-friendly benefits did not fare well
      in Singapore.

      I was in the IT line. I had tried to ask my former employer, a big
      local company, for a flexi-work deal so I could spend more time with my son.

      I asked to work from home, but my request was turned down.

      Then I tried asking to work four extended days in a week with one day
      off, another proposal that was turned down.

      This is unlike in the United States or the United Kingdom, where
      employees have been able to persuade employers to let them use the Internet to
      work from home, as noted in the News Comment, "From home to work with a
      mouse click" (Jan 14).

      Finally, I was asked to accept a retrenchment package while I was
      pregnant with my second child.

      My manager told me it was the best arrangement as, with the money, I
      could stay home and look after my kids!

      Letter from Lim Ai Ling

      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      From: Mellanie Hewlitt - Singapore Review
      Date: Mon Feb 24, 2003 6:00 pm
      Subject: Singapore Needs A Little Love, Compassion & Love Potion 99.

      Singapore Needs A Little Love and Compassion?

      An amusing perception of the Singapore Procreation Process;

      Everything runs like clockwork in squeaky clean, efficient little
      Singapore. Well, almost everything at least. And what does the Ruling
      Elite do if there is a problem in their neat tidy backyard? They
      address it by way of laws, fines, taxes, imprisonments and law
      suites, this after all is the PAP way. It has worked in the past and
      it will always work in the future. But then again perhaps not.

      The tiny city state and its ever paternalistic government have a
      problem which cannot be solved by the usual cocktail of laws, fines,
      litigation and campaigns. This problem is a highly personal one which
      extends into the private bedrooms of its citizens. How does a well
      meaning parent tell its usually compliant and obedient children
      to "get on with it", to "make hay whilst the sun shines" and more
      directly put, to "go forth, procreate, multiply and reproduce."?

      Along with the status of a developed nation, Singapore has also
      inherited its trade mark problems. Its population (particularly the
      better educated and wealthier Chinese majority) is not replacing
      itself and birth rates have been declining continously over the
      years. And this is a problem which the paternalistic government
      cannot address in its usual draconian style. No, you cannot impose a
      fine, and neither can you pass a law to solve this sensitive issue.
      And if left unaddressed, there is every potential that the little
      city-state with its population of 4 million people will "develop"
      itself to extinction.

      The task is growing more urgent because the birth rate among
      Singapore's four million people is falling steadily and now
      languishes at 1.4 children per woman. That's below the 2.1
      demographers say is necessary for a population to replace itself.

      In the past, Singapore's ruling elite have approached the problem
      with their usual efficiency and diligence, by way of campaigns and
      policy implementations. Indeed, their attempt to play cupid had not
      gone unnoticed and has been the source of much amusement (see
      previous article attached below; "Government Promotes Unions Of Its
      Best and Brightest; Soul Mates in 7 Minutes?", The Wallstreet
      Journal).

      After several failed attempts, the "Powers that be" finally realized
      that (at least for matters of the heart, and bedroom type activities)
      they cannot point a gun to a person's head and mandate him/her to
      kick start the domestic baby making factory. No Mr Lee, it does not
      work this way, that's not how Adam and Eve started out, and that's
      certainly not how the Good Lord created the universe.

      Perhaps one reason for the government's dismal failures is the
      overwhelming emphasis on academic qualifications and other "hard
      factors". The government set-up two different social units to
      encourage marriage amongst the younger generation. One for graduates
      (SDU, Singapore's best and brightest?) and one for non-graduates
      (SDS). The underlying message of cause was that new generation of
      Singaporeans should choose their partners and marry within the
      confines of their own designated Academic Caste System. Hence, it is
      small wonder why many younger and more liberal minded Singaporeans
      find this archaic medieval academic caste system highly objectionable
      and terribly unromantic.

      Many may also remember the infamous "Graduate Mother Scheme" which
      the government tried to implement a decade ago. For those who are
      unfamiliar, it would be best described as the PAP's way to implement
      their version of the Laws of Un-Natural Selection, and propagate the
      ruling elite's own twisted version of the theory of evolution.
      Graduate couples were then given huge financial incentives and
      support to have more children. The rationale being that children from
      graduate couples were more likely to be intelligent and gifted. Of
      cause the flip side of the equation logically implied that children
      of non-graduate parents were total misfits and genetically inferior!

      This measure of the worth of a human life (accessed solely on
      academic merits) raised many questioning eyebrows, from graduates and
      non-graduates alike. And it came as no surprise that the scheme was a
      colossal failure, a heartening reflection that the Singapore
      population still retained some semblance of independent thought and
      dignity when it comes to matters of the heart at least

      But aside from the colossal failures of the government sponsored
      match making programs, a host of other factors account for the
      declining birth rates. "Go forth and multiply" you say? Well that's
      more easily said then done for the average couple in Singapore with
      an average household income of approximately SGD3-4000/-. Unless you
      are part of the ruling elite who take home a minimum net income of
      SGD150,000/- per month (or SGD1.6 million per year), (the average pay
      packet for a PAP minister), life is not easy in expensive little
      Singapore.

      The start-up costs for a new family can be staggering, with big
      ticket items like a car and a house. Even a 1.6 Litre Japanese car
      will cost at least SGD80,000/-, which is the equivalent of a decent 3
      bedroom house in some countries. And a small 1,200 Sq Ft apartment
      can set you back SGD1,000,000.- and more, depending on the locality
      and tenor. What about government "subsidised" housing?
      Well, "subsidised" housing here takes the form of HDB (Housing
      Development Board) flats which will cost between SGD200,000 to
      SGD400,000/-, the equivalent of a decent size house in Australia or
      New Zealand.

      And the costs and expenses do not stop here. The government has also
      imposed compulsory savings in the form of CPF (Central Provident
      Fund), which is mandatory and ties up approx 20% of the monthly pay
      of the citizens. There is no access to these funds until you reach
      the retirement age of 55 years. And if you fall ill or need a
      operation before this age, good luck matey you are on your own. Then
      there are the other daily expenses like ERP (Electronic Road
      Pricing), maid levies, GST, all of which is imposed in a city state
      which is conspicuously bereft of any public welfare or unemployment
      benefits.

      In short, staggering initial capital outlay required in starting a
      family here, as well as increasing costs of living, have paved the
      way for dual income households where both husband and wife typically
      work 12 hour days just to make ends meet. And after a hectic work
      day, there is little time left over for other more "romantic"
      pastimes, let alone raising a child.

      Even when there is an increase in marriage rates, there is no sure
      sign that this would reverse the declining birth rates as the vast
      majority of couples either opt not to have children, or in the event
      they do, the wealthy and affluent class (which are most targeted by
      the Singapore Government) have instead chosen to have children
      abroad. One such individual was a banker (who requested to remain
      anonymous) who stated that he would want his child to have a normal
      and happy childhood, as opposed to the rigid, oppressive and highly
      competitive pressure-cooked education system in Singapore. He took a
      3 week holiday and arranged for his wife to give birth to their
      bouncing baby boy in New York, so that the child had the rights and
      benefits of US citizenship. And theirs is not an isolated case as
      there are many who have opted for a better and easier life for their
      children via this route.

      Far from encouraging increasing birth-rates, a combination
      of dismal government policies and "social engineering", and
      unfavourable work and living conditions (for the locals) have
      resulted in an exodus of the more affluent segments of the
      population, further worsening an already bad situation.

      At the end of the day, the act of procreation is highly intimate and
      individualistic, very personal in nature. One really wonders if years
      of repressive indoctrination have robbed the native populace of the
      free will, independence and ability to rise to the occasion,
      instilling an over-dependent, compliant and submissive culture which
      is anti-thesis to the aggressive survival instinct that is crucial
      for reproduction.

      But not withstanding the difficult and oppressive social and
      financial environment moulded by the government, surely our fore
      fathers and distant ancestors have faced greater challenges in the
      past, and still managed to sow their royal oats and ensured the
      continued existence of their bloodlines? So what's really missing in
      Singapore's Procreation Equation? A liberal dose of good old
      fashioned love.

      One can almost picture the look of uncomprehending horror on the
      faces of the Ruling Elite. How preposterous, marry and procreate in
      the name of love? But that would mean breaching the Academic Caste
      System! GOOD HAVENS NO! We cant' have people running all over the
      place, haphazardly falling in love and procreating, that's wrong!
      That's not within the prescribed framework of the nicely laid out
      plans Singapore's Ruling Elite had crafted for Singapore Inc.

      But some would argue that "letting nature take its own natural
      course" is a formulae that has worked for humanity in the last two to
      five thousand years. Perhaps its high time some brave hearted martyr
      ventures forth and informs the "Powers that be in Singapore" that
      they should try a little bit of good old fashioned love (and throw in
      the obligatory bouquet of roses) and compassion, if they wished to
      play cupid.

      Perhaps its also time for the overzealous parent to leave the
      children some slack, they are all grown up and they have to figure
      this one out for themselves. Alternatively, does anyone have the
      recipe for Love Potion No 9. If you do, please mark it URGENT and
      forward it to the PAP.

      To subscribe, simply send an e-mail to: Sg_Review-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
    • Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/­Sg_Review/message/1455 Mellanie Hewlitt The Truth Behind Singapore s Public Policy Administration Singapore Review 21 Jan 2005
      Message 73 of 73 , Jun 1 6:27 AM
      • 0 Attachment
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1455

        Mellanie Hewlitt
        The Truth Behind Singapore's Public Policy Administration
        Singapore Review
        21 Jan 2005

        Government led "Family Friendly" benefits and "Flexi-work"
        arrangements often look good only on paper but find very limited
        application outside of the civil service in the real pressure filled
        world of private sector firms and MNCs. This was the bitter lesson
        learnt by Ms Lim Ai Ling when she attempted to cash-in on her "Family
        Friendly Benefits" and instead opened a can of worms. Ms Lim found to
        her horror that a "Flexi-work" public policy does not mean flexi-work
        arrangements in practise.

        Ms Lim's mistake is quite understandable. Many of us assume that public
        policies are more than mere rhetoric and take them at face value
        especially when they are enthusiastically reported in the local
        government owned papers. We mistakingly assume that a "Family Friendly"
        public policy translates into more quality time with our loved ones.
        But the truth is hard to swallow in Singapore. Few realise that most of
        the policies are mere publicity stunts devoid of actual substance and
        one relies on them at his or her own peril.

        To be fair, many firms and Multinational Companies (MNCs) will endorse
        these government led "family friendly" % "flexi-work" packages as part
        of their standard employee welfare program. But they are also faced
        with budget constraints and the constant pressure of keeping costs down
        and achieving a larger workload with the same (or even smaller) number
        of workers.

        Family Friendly = More Time With Family = Less Time in Office
        What the PAP and Singapore's highly paid ministers fail to realize is
        that we cannot eat our cake and have it. For every choice made there is
        an underlying opportunity cost. Most private sector MNCs have already
        optimized workflows and streamlined work protocols so only very little
        room is available for further rationalization exercises. In a fast
        moving work place like this, the opportunity cost of implementing a
        family friendly work environment translates into;

        a) Shorter Work hours;
        b) Lighter work loads;
        c) Employing more staff to do the same amount of work;
        d) Increased labour costs and head-count;
        e) And ultimately a less competitive Singapore work force (and
        infrastructure).

        The logic behind the above is part of Introductory Economics 101;- When
        a company is given fixed (and limited labour resource units), if one
        factor of production is increased while the others remain constant, the
        overall returns will relatively decrease after a certain point.
        http://www.encyclopedia.com/ht%ef%bf%bdml/d1/diminish.asp

        The bottom line is that many department heads, and employers are
        unwilling to accept the above costs which will ultimately eat into the
        net profit and overall financial performance of a firm. The accepted
        norm in Singapore's MNCs is to "over leverage" on fixed labour
        resources so that the department is actually operating on the declining
        segment of the Total Productivity curve. Needless to say this is an
        inefficient allocation or resources as the mix of resource units are
        not optimized. But this is of no consequence to most department heads
        as their only sole objective (to the exclusion of all else including
        worker welfare) is to keep labour costs down.

        In this flawed strategy, worker welfare (and Family Friendly Benefits)
        are interests that directly conflict with the balancesheet / P&L needs
        of the company (and the state).

        Unfortunately, the same flawed strategy is adopted by the Singapore
        government albeit on a larger scale. On a small island with no natural
        resources, the only "resource" which is saleable in order to attract
        foreign investments is HUMAN LABOUR. But if this is the case and the
        average worker should be of prime importance to the overall well being
        of Singapore Inc, Management should implement more friendly work
        policies. Instead, the average worker is exploited and they seem to be
        intent on killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

        Past examples of the PAP Government's "Family Friendly" policies
        include;

        1) Cutting Employer's CPF: Implementing across the board wage
        reductions (in the form of unilateral cuts to employers CPF
        contribution). This was a policy which the PAP government imposed
        harshly with the full knowledge that government census figures showed
        that most Singaporeans workers are still dependent on CPF contributions
        to pay-off their mortgages. See:
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/618 and also
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/638

        2) No CPF Restoration in Good Times: During a subsequent economic
        recovery, this same government did not restore Employers CPF
        contributions. The ministers of cause restored their own salaries
        (though it was highly questionable if they ever took a wage cut in the
        first place. See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1234
        But the buck literally stopped before it reached the average Singapore
        worker.

        3) Singapore is a very expensive place to call home. Its ok if you are
        just "passing through" as an expat, but the story is different if you
        try settling here for good. See:
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1074

        4) Singapore Workers Over Paid; Inspite of para (3) above, this same
        government also came to the rather far-fetched conclusion that
        Singapore workers were more well paid than their counterparts in the
        US, UK and Australia (see:
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/577

        5) Singapore Workers Cannot Retire: Contrary to the assertions of the
        government in para (4) above, it is a fact that Singaporean workers
        will not have enough in their savings to retire on. See:
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1413

        6) State Enterprises Live Off Workers: Decades of huge hidden fiscal
        surpluses enrich the Singapore government and state enterprises but
        impoverish the private sector and tax payers. See Far Eastern Economic
        Review: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1153

        7) Its a Crime Not To Top-Up CPF; This same government has made a crime
        if you do not top-up your CPF. Only in Singapore is it possible to be
        taken to court if you owe yourself money. See:
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1305

        The list goes on and on but for the sake of brevity we will stop here.
        From the above mix of policies the overall picture is clear. Actions
        speak louder than words. In the grand scheme of things of the PAP
        government, there is no place for workers welfare and "Family Friendly
        Benefits". Of cause it would be political suicide (even in Singapore)
        to publicly admit this truth so in true PAP tradition policies are
        drafted and the government controlled press is enlisted to show case to
        the public that worker's welfare feature prominently in the ruling
        party's priorities.

        Of cause the problem here is that there maybe afew kind unsuspecting
        souls who actually swallow this entire sales pitch, hook line and
        sinker, which brings us bad to the sad story of Ms Lim Ai Ling.

        Then again, with Human Labour as Singapore Inc's only available
        product, do you honestly believe that management of Singapore Inc will
        endorse policies which will degrade the quality and standard of its
        sole product (and life line)? This government's unspoken stand on bread
        and butter issues is that the welfare and well being of the average
        worker is subordinated by those of the "larger" and more "pressing"
        concerns of the state. Like the usual Stalin and Marxist model, the
        average Singaporean worker is expected to make sacrifices for the
        "larger good" of the state.

        This perspective also sits well with the government's current
        anti-labour policies which favour labour representation by a sham
        labour union (NTUC). The existence of strong and real labour union
        representation would not agree with a management strategy which has the
        objective of keeping Singapore Inc's sole product price competitive
        (i.e.cheap) and attractive. There is a negative correlation between
        quality of life and attractiveness of Singapore Inc's prime product.

        In order to placate workers, what we get from "Management" of Singapore
        Inc are a series of measures which look good on paper but were never
        intended to see real actual application in the real work place in the
        private sector. This also explains the reason why there is the very
        conspicuous absence of any real bona fide labour union representation
        here.
        see: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1399

        With unemployment rates remaining at 4.5% p.a. (which sit strangely
        beside reports by the local press of a local economic recovery), the
        status quo in the job market is decidedly in favour of the employer.
        Unlike other developed countries like the US, UK, Australia etc,
        Singapore is not a welfare state, so in the absence of real tangible
        labour union representation the employers hold all the cards on the
        negotiation table. In view of the current conditions desperate workers
        with mortgages to pay are willing to accept lower pay, longer work
        hours and more stressful work conditions.

        The Singapore government has never been a strong proponent of human
        rights (and free speech) so this Stalin/Marxist styled mentality in
        public policy administration is also hardly surprising. However, this
        imperfect state of affairs might be easier to accept if Singapore's
        Ruling Elite also led by example. But this was not the case as
        Singapore's current ministers have conveniently exempt themselves from
        the same policies on wage restraint which they cavalierly impose for
        the rest of the population.
        see: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1373
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/%ef%bf%bdSg_Review/message/1360

        What happens if the average unsuspecting worker takes the "Family
        Friendly" and "Flexi-work" policies of the PAP government at face value
        and attempts to actually see these policies through to actual
        implementation? Ask Ms Lim Ai Ling who was finally retrenched for all
        her efforts.

        We circulate below article from Lim Ai Ling which should be read
        keeping in mind the overall larger "labour friendly" policy mix of the
        Singapore Government. There is more than meets the eye in the shady
        world of public policy implementation and there is a lesson to be
        learnt in this for all would-be believers.

        ------------------------------�------------------------------�------------------------------�------------------------------�------------------------------�--------

        Today
        20 Jan 2005
        Lim Ai Ling

        HERE'S WHY FAMILY-FRIENDLY BENEFITS DON'T FARE WELL HERE
        ------------------------------�--------------------------
        I refer to the report, "Flexi-work arrangements still limited" (Jan
        18).

        It's not surprising that the family-friendly benefits did not fare well
        in Singapore.

        I was in the IT line. I had tried to ask my former employer, a big
        local company, for a flexi-work deal so I could spend more time with my son.

        I asked to work from home, but my request was turned down.

        Then I tried asking to work four extended days in a week with one day
        off, another proposal that was turned down.

        This is unlike in the United States or the United Kingdom, where
        employees have been able to persuade employers to let them use the Internet to
        work from home, as noted in the News Comment, "From home to work with a
        mouse click" (Jan 14).

        Finally, I was asked to accept a retrenchment package while I was
        pregnant with my second child.

        My manager told me it was the best arrangement as, with the money, I
        could stay home and look after my kids!

        Letter from Lim Ai Ling

        --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        From: Mellanie Hewlitt - Singapore Review
        Date: Mon Feb 24, 2003 6:00 pm
        Subject: Singapore Needs A Little Love, Compassion & Love Potion 99.

        Singapore Needs A Little Love and Compassion?

        An amusing perception of the Singapore Procreation Process;

        Everything runs like clockwork in squeaky clean, efficient little
        Singapore. Well, almost everything at least. And what does the Ruling
        Elite do if there is a problem in their neat tidy backyard? They
        address it by way of laws, fines, taxes, imprisonments and law
        suites, this after all is the PAP way. It has worked in the past and
        it will always work in the future. But then again perhaps not.

        The tiny city state and its ever paternalistic government have a
        problem which cannot be solved by the usual cocktail of laws, fines,
        litigation and campaigns. This problem is a highly personal one which
        extends into the private bedrooms of its citizens. How does a well
        meaning parent tell its usually compliant and obedient children
        to "get on with it", to "make hay whilst the sun shines" and more
        directly put, to "go forth, procreate, multiply and reproduce."?

        Along with the status of a developed nation, Singapore has also
        inherited its trade mark problems. Its population (particularly the
        better educated and wealthier Chinese majority) is not replacing
        itself and birth rates have been declining continously over the
        years. And this is a problem which the paternalistic government
        cannot address in its usual draconian style. No, you cannot impose a
        fine, and neither can you pass a law to solve this sensitive issue.
        And if left unaddressed, there is every potential that the little
        city-state with its population of 4 million people will "develop"
        itself to extinction.

        The task is growing more urgent because the birth rate among
        Singapore's four million people is falling steadily and now
        languishes at 1.4 children per woman. That's below the 2.1
        demographers say is necessary for a population to replace itself.

        In the past, Singapore's ruling elite have approached the problem
        with their usual efficiency and diligence, by way of campaigns and
        policy implementations. Indeed, their attempt to play cupid had not
        gone unnoticed and has been the source of much amusement (see
        previous article attached below; "Government Promotes Unions Of Its
        Best and Brightest; Soul Mates in 7 Minutes?", The Wallstreet
        Journal).

        After several failed attempts, the "Powers that be" finally realized
        that (at least for matters of the heart, and bedroom type activities)
        they cannot point a gun to a person's head and mandate him/her to
        kick start the domestic baby making factory. No Mr Lee, it does not
        work this way, that's not how Adam and Eve started out, and that's
        certainly not how the Good Lord created the universe.

        Perhaps one reason for the government's dismal failures is the
        overwhelming emphasis on academic qualifications and other "hard
        factors". The government set-up two different social units to
        encourage marriage amongst the younger generation. One for graduates
        (SDU, Singapore's best and brightest?) and one for non-graduates
        (SDS). The underlying message of cause was that new generation of
        Singaporeans should choose their partners and marry within the
        confines of their own designated Academic Caste System. Hence, it is
        small wonder why many younger and more liberal minded Singaporeans
        find this archaic medieval academic caste system highly objectionable
        and terribly unromantic.

        Many may also remember the infamous "Graduate Mother Scheme" which
        the government tried to implement a decade ago. For those who are
        unfamiliar, it would be best described as the PAP's way to implement
        their version of the Laws of Un-Natural Selection, and propagate the
        ruling elite's own twisted version of the theory of evolution.
        Graduate couples were then given huge financial incentives and
        support to have more children. The rationale being that children from
        graduate couples were more likely to be intelligent and gifted. Of
        cause the flip side of the equation logically implied that children
        of non-graduate parents were total misfits and genetically inferior!

        This measure of the worth of a human life (accessed solely on
        academic merits) raised many questioning eyebrows, from graduates and
        non-graduates alike. And it came as no surprise that the scheme was a
        colossal failure, a heartening reflection that the Singapore
        population still retained some semblance of independent thought and
        dignity when it comes to matters of the heart at least

        But aside from the colossal failures of the government sponsored
        match making programs, a host of other factors account for the
        declining birth rates. "Go forth and multiply" you say? Well that's
        more easily said then done for the average couple in Singapore with
        an average household income of approximately SGD3-4000/-. Unless you
        are part of the ruling elite who take home a minimum net income of
        SGD150,000/- per month (or SGD1.6 million per year), (the average pay
        packet for a PAP minister), life is not easy in expensive little
        Singapore.

        The start-up costs for a new family can be staggering, with big
        ticket items like a car and a house. Even a 1.6 Litre Japanese car
        will cost at least SGD80,000/-, which is the equivalent of a decent 3
        bedroom house in some countries. And a small 1,200 Sq Ft apartment
        can set you back SGD1,000,000.- and more, depending on the locality
        and tenor. What about government "subsidised" housing?
        Well, "subsidised" housing here takes the form of HDB (Housing
        Development Board) flats which will cost between SGD200,000 to
        SGD400,000/-, the equivalent of a decent size house in Australia or
        New Zealand.

        And the costs and expenses do not stop here. The government has also
        imposed compulsory savings in the form of CPF (Central Provident
        Fund), which is mandatory and ties up approx 20% of the monthly pay
        of the citizens. There is no access to these funds until you reach
        the retirement age of 55 years. And if you fall ill or need a
        operation before this age, good luck matey you are on your own. Then
        there are the other daily expenses like ERP (Electronic Road
        Pricing), maid levies, GST, all of which is imposed in a city state
        which is conspicuously bereft of any public welfare or unemployment
        benefits.

        In short, staggering initial capital outlay required in starting a
        family here, as well as increasing costs of living, have paved the
        way for dual income households where both husband and wife typically
        work 12 hour days just to make ends meet. And after a hectic work
        day, there is little time left over for other more "romantic"
        pastimes, let alone raising a child.

        Even when there is an increase in marriage rates, there is no sure
        sign that this would reverse the declining birth rates as the vast
        majority of couples either opt not to have children, or in the event
        they do, the wealthy and affluent class (which are most targeted by
        the Singapore Government) have instead chosen to have children
        abroad. One such individual was a banker (who requested to remain
        anonymous) who stated that he would want his child to have a normal
        and happy childhood, as opposed to the rigid, oppressive and highly
        competitive pressure-cooked education system in Singapore. He took a
        3 week holiday and arranged for his wife to give birth to their
        bouncing baby boy in New York, so that the child had the rights and
        benefits of US citizenship. And theirs is not an isolated case as
        there are many who have opted for a better and easier life for their
        children via this route.

        Far from encouraging increasing birth-rates, a combination
        of dismal government policies and "social engineering", and
        unfavourable work and living conditions (for the locals) have
        resulted in an exodus of the more affluent segments of the
        population, further worsening an already bad situation.

        At the end of the day, the act of procreation is highly intimate and
        individualistic, very personal in nature. One really wonders if years
        of repressive indoctrination have robbed the native populace of the
        free will, independence and ability to rise to the occasion,
        instilling an over-dependent, compliant and submissive culture which
        is anti-thesis to the aggressive survival instinct that is crucial
        for reproduction.

        But not withstanding the difficult and oppressive social and
        financial environment moulded by the government, surely our fore
        fathers and distant ancestors have faced greater challenges in the
        past, and still managed to sow their royal oats and ensured the
        continued existence of their bloodlines? So what's really missing in
        Singapore's Procreation Equation? A liberal dose of good old
        fashioned love.

        One can almost picture the look of uncomprehending horror on the
        faces of the Ruling Elite. How preposterous, marry and procreate in
        the name of love? But that would mean breaching the Academic Caste
        System! GOOD HAVENS NO! We cant' have people running all over the
        place, haphazardly falling in love and procreating, that's wrong!
        That's not within the prescribed framework of the nicely laid out
        plans Singapore's Ruling Elite had crafted for Singapore Inc.

        But some would argue that "letting nature take its own natural
        course" is a formulae that has worked for humanity in the last two to
        five thousand years. Perhaps its high time some brave hearted martyr
        ventures forth and informs the "Powers that be in Singapore" that
        they should try a little bit of good old fashioned love (and throw in
        the obligatory bouquet of roses) and compassion, if they wished to
        play cupid.

        Perhaps its also time for the overzealous parent to leave the
        children some slack, they are all grown up and they have to figure
        this one out for themselves. Alternatively, does anyone have the
        recipe for Love Potion No 9. If you do, please mark it URGENT and
        forward it to the PAP.

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