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To LKY: Why haven't you looked after these cleaners who built nation? - ST (28Jul07) S'pore's dirty secret - ST (23Apr07) - MM: My job to look after those who built nation

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  • Kaye Poh
    In Singapore elite leaders are protected from competition and our low income workers exposed to intense competition. We end up with leaders with the highest
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 30, 2007
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      "In Singapore elite leaders are protected from competition and our low income workers exposed to intense competition. We end up with leaders with the highest salaries in the world and low income workers with barely enough to eat!"
       
      To: Lee Kuan Yew
       
      31 July 2007
       
      My question to you: Have you looked after these nation-building cleaners who would need 500 years to earn what you earn in a year with your multi-million dollar salary (while doing just half-day work as you once mentioned you needed your beauty sleep, on top of your cushy pension) - or equivalent to more than 1000 man-years of cleaners based on full-day work?
       
      You lack credibility now - all because of money! All those selfless talk about looking after our nation builders - just lip service.
       
      Like the blogger "LuckySingaporean" rightly points out, cleaners' low salaries are due to competition (from "foreign talent") while ministers' high salaries are due to "lack of competition" (in-breeding) - a blank cheque at your disposal (citizens' money)
       
      Rgds
       
      ========================================================

      Sunday, July 29, 2007

      Dirty Little Secret in Our Golden Period....

      In other countries, the top leaders are subjected to a high level competition and low income workers are protected with safety nets. In Singapore elite leaders are protected from competition and our low income workers exposed to intense competition. We end up with leaders with the highest salaries in the world and low income workers with barely enough to eat!

      Well I guess we have a system that is fair, since there is no MINIMUM WAGE for our low income workers, there shouldn't be a MAXIMUM WAGE for our elite leaders. I wonder what will happen if we import the best leaders from around the world to run Singapore Inc and give them the single goal of making life as good as possible for as many Singaporeans as possible. How would they run our system? Will they run it the same way the PAP runs it?

      Suppose we stop the import of low skill foreign labor from competing with the bottom 30% of our workforce what will happen? ....Will we see the income of our cleaners rise? I guess the bosses of cleaning companies will be screaming that their profits are affected if they have to pay higher to attract Singaporeans. Since we don't have welfare, minimum wages and independent unions, one would think that stopping foreign labor from competing with the bottom 30% of our workforce thereby restoring wages to their natural levels from artificially depressed levels would be something sensible. I use the word artificial because a cleaner imported from Bangladesh is happy to take up a low paying job in Singapore because his family back home enjoy a cost of living less than one tenth that of a Singaporean family. To make a Singapore cleaner compete with one from Bangladesh is to increase his misery by 10 times!

      In the beginning. the Foreign Talent Scheme was sold to Singaporeans as a scheme to attract the best talents from around the world to help create the best jobs for Singaporeans. Today a foreigner willing to clean tables for $500 is also a top talent because he & his family can live comfortably on that income while Singaporeans can't. Our Golden Period simply cannot do without the low income workers because the spectacular profits of our GLCs depend on them.... thats our dirty little secret....

      ----------
      S'pore's dirty secret .....
      Straits Times 28 Jul 2007.
      They keep offices, shopping centres and the roads clean. But their wages look shabby compared to the rest of boomtown Singapore. SUE-ANN CHIA finds out why the pay of cleaners and labourers declined over the past decade
      .
      Madam Aishah Mohamed Yunos, 30, toils at four blocks in a Bukit Panjang housing estate, wiping walls and lifts and sweeping and mopping floors.
      The neighbourhood is spick and span. But the job pays crumbs.
      At least that is what Madam Aishah feels when she pockets her monthly wages of $400. If that's not lousy enough, she has not had a pay rise in two years on the job.
      'There's nothing else I can do,' she says with a careless shrug. She left school at Primary 6.
      Her story, if she sticks to cleaning work, could soon mirror that of another cleaner's, Madam P. Devi, 60.

      Nine years ago, she earned $500 a month cleaning offices. Today, she earns $440 cleaning at a mall in Holland Village.

      'I have enough to eat,' she says, by way of prefacing how she has no right to be unhappy because she is illiterate. She and her retiree security guard husband, 69, who gets a pension, are supporting two children still in school.
      The two women, across two generations, are in the beleaguered brigade of Singapore workers whose pay packets have slackened even as other workers have marched ahead in an expanding economy.
      .
      In the last 10 years, the starting salaries of all occupational groups rose - except one.
      That group: cleaners and labourers. Their median monthly starting pay fell 30 per cent between 1996 and 2006 - from $860 to $600.
      The Government's latest wage report says the group's median pay was being dragged down by a sizeable number of this category of workers languishing in extremely low-paying jobs.
      At the bottom of the heap: office cleaners and aircraft loaders. They start with a monthly pay of $500 and $550 respectively.

      In 1996, newbie cleaners made $550 while newbie aircraft loaders made $650.
      While aircraft loaders' pay went up with experience, office cleaners had no such gains. Their median monthly salary fell from $708 in 1996 to $657 last year.
      .
      Twin forces thwarting rise in wages
      WHAT accounts for their shrinking wages?
      Labour economists blame two forces: competition from low-skilled foreign workers and the growing trend of outsourcing.
      'Salaries are unlikely to rise as long as low-skilled local workers compete with low-skilled foreign labour who are often paid less,' says Associate Professor Hui Weng Tat, vice-dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
      .
      His view that foreign workers depress the wages of local workers has been aired before by others, including Mr Lim Swee Say when he was deputy labour chief.
      In an interview last year, Mr Lim, who is now the labour chief, said he suspected the easy entry of cheap foreign workers in some sectors has reduced the incentive for employers to improve work processes and raise productivity. It is easier and cheaper to hire cheap, than to invest in better work processes.
      .
      But he made clear he was not opposed to foreign workers, saying that they contributed to the economy. Economist Lim Chong Yah, who headed the National Wages Council for 29 years until 2001, also last year warned policymakers to be careful about allowing 'too free a flow' of 'very low value-added labour, very low-wage labour'. The other issue to contend with is outsourcing. As firms cut costs and headcount, many outsource non-core functions like cleaning.
      .
      Instead of being on the more stable payroll of these companies, cleaners are now hired at a much lower pay by cleaning agencies which then assign them to different workplaces.
      Cleaning agencies, in their fierce battle to win contracts, slash the price of their bids. The losers: the cleaners who end up with even lower pay.
      .
      Prof Hui notes that outsourcing also encourages service buyers such as building owners to switch to cheaper cleaning contracts. This means some cleaners may continue in the same job under a different employer - often wearing just differently coloured uniforms - while others are forced to seek new employment.
      'This perpetuates the low pay of such workers who do not benefit from any seniority-based component in their pay but are constantly treated as new employees,' he says.
      Part-timers, retirees depress wage figures
      FIGURES from five cleaning companies surveyed by Insight indicate that cleaners' pay may be creeping up.

      Five to 10 years ago, a cleaner would be offered around $580 to $600 a month. Today, he would get about $100 more, says Mr Kevin Loh, the boss of Campaign Cleaning Services.
      Mr Joey Yeung, executive manager of cleaning company SQ1 Development, addsthat those who work in far-flung places like Tuas can get even more, about $900.
      If so, why do the national figures show them making so little?
      Labour economist Shandre Thangavelu suspects the wages are depressed by part-time workers like retirees agreeing to work for a lot less.
      Madam Wang Xiu Qin, 67, is among them. She retired five years ago as a waitress but went back to work two years later to beat boredom at home.
      She has since been cleaning office toilets four hours, six days a week. She is pleased with her pay of $350 a month.
      But there are many others who struggle to survive.
      Madam Sharon Kong, 50, earns $300 a month keeping an office clean. She works three hours a day, six days a week.
      'I earn just enough to buy food from the market to cook and feed the family,' says the mother of two sons, aged 22 and 25.
      Her factory worker husband earns about $1,000 a month and one of her sons help with other family expenses.
      Can she get a better job?
      Not a chance, as 'I only have primary education,' she says.
      Tackling issue through productivity boost
      THE plight of low-wage workers - with stagnant or shrinking pay packets - is an issue the Government and labour movement have been grappling with for some time.
      Three years ago, the Job Recreation Programme (JRP) was set up to boost the productivity and pay of low-skilled jobs in several sectors, from cleaning to construction.
      Last year, Workfare, an income supplement for low-wage workers, was introduced and is now a permanent feature for workers aged above 35 and whose income is $1,500 and below.
      Labour chief Lim Swee Say tells Insight: 'The downward pressure on the wages of low-wage workers will continue to be there for some time as there is no shortage of low-cost, low-skilled workers in the world.'
      ...
      The cause may be global, but the effect is truly local. The biggest worry is the widening income gap between high- and low-end workers.
      Different countries look for different solutions - from a minimum wage policy and closing the door on low-skilled foreign workers to paying foreign local workers the same wages.
      But Mr Lim calls these 'easy solutions' that do not necessarily work.
      He wants Singapore to focus on raising productivity.'When their productivity goes up, their pay will also go up without eroding business competitiveness.'
      Some success has been achieved through JRP, which has boosted the salaries of security guards, landscape technicians and bus captains.
      Mr Lim concedes that 'there is still a long way to go' in improving the pay of every low-skilled worker.
      One major criticism of the programme is that it spreads itself too thin in trying to reach too many sectors.
      Still, Mr Ang Hin Kee, director of NTUC's Employability Enhancement Department, believes it has made a difference to the cleaning sector.
      'JRP pilot projects have demonstrated that workers in the cleaning industry can earn higher wages through re-skilling and job re-design,' he says.
      ...
      He notes how 75 conservancy cleaners who went for the programme found their wages going up from $750 a month to about $1,000. They got a new title to boot: building custodians.
      The new perks come with added responsibilities of weeding, checking and rectifying defects in drains and replacing light bulbs in HDB blocks.
      Another recent success was at three major hospitals which revised their cleaning contracts.
      Previously, their housekeepers just cleaned the wards. Now, 15 of them act as team leaders to inspect ward cleanliness and prepare simple reports.
      Their monthly pay rose from $800 to $1,050. Their job title was also spruced up. The housekeeper is now the facility services specialist.
      But these are small-scale efforts. The JRP has yet to cover the large army of cleaners who clean commercial properties such as offices, shopping centres and condominiums. There are about 22,000 of them.
      .
      It will do so by year's end, says Mr Ang.
      The biggest hurdle in pushing the cleaners' brigade is posed by sceptical companies. They want to see a cleaner environment first before they will pay cleaning companies more for better-trained workers. This causes a vicious cycle as cleaning companies do not pay more and the lowly paid worker sees no incentive to do more. There seems to be no way out.
      ,.
      Mr Lim advocates staying the course with JRP, as skills re-development is the only way for 'more low-wage workers to be part of the race to the top'.
      But the brigade may also have thinning ranks of Singaporeans in time, as the workforce becomes better educated and move on to better work while cleaning jobs are revamped to attract better pay.
      For now, though, the problem cannot be wiped clean.

      posted by LuckySingaporean at 10:00 AM


      Kaye Poh <kayepoh@...> wrote:
      "WHY do needy Singaporeans continue to fall through the cracks despite the Government's array of public aid schemes?" (ST, 7 May 2007)
       
      cc: Vivi Zainol
       
      7 May 2007
       
      Another article on the plight of the poor and the sick needing help. (ST, 7 May 2007, "Help for the poor: So close, yet so far" - attached below).
       
      I am ashamed that it takes some school kids to do the groundwork and legwork to find out the plight of these "nation builders" that Lee Kuan Yew missed.
       
      Whatever happened to the PAP's grassroots organisations - these so-called grassroots cadres with access to the people on the ground? Are they just in name only?
       
      Didn't I read somewhere the PA has yearly budgets in the hundreds of millions, so where does this money go? Surely not the grassroots people since they are all volunteers.
       
      Rgds
       
      ================================================================
       
      Help for the poor: So close, yet so far
      By Vivi Zainol, For The Straits Times
      May 07, 2007
      The Straits Times
      WHY do needy Singaporeans continue to fall through the cracks despite the Government's array of public aid schemes?
      To tackle this question, 18 of my students at Ngee Ann Polytechnic interviewed more than 30 low-income households for a vacation module. They found the biggest bar-
      riers to be education and language.
      Many are illiterate. With little knowledge or understanding of schemes to help them, it's not surprising that some say they know the Government is helping them, but they feel it is not doing enough.
      Some would rather get an extra job than ask for help. Others struggle to make themselves understood and say they do not have the time, money or energy to make return trips to their MP or Community Development Councils (CDCs) to ask for more help.
      For those who did bother, a common complaint heard by students was that the CDC officers are rude.
      Several years ago, as a Straits Times community reporter, I had heard the same comment when I asked a woman with three children, and whose husband was in jail for a drug offence, why she did not ask for help. Describing how her experience with CDCs turned her off, she said a CDC officer had sarcastically asked her: 'Didn't your husband leave you any money?'
      'If he had, why would I be asking for help?' said the troubled woman, who had contemplated suicide.
      One group of Ngee Ann students decided to observe CDC officers in action after receiving the feedback. At one CDC, officers were unfailingly polite - it was the low-income group which was being demanding and uncooperative. However, all the CDC officers were Chinese - help-
      seekers speaking Malay and Indian had to struggle to make themselves understood.
      At another CDC, student Nurlina Fatima Shafrin, 18, recalled how a CDC officer was heard commenting loudly to another officer nearby on how 'irritating' the people who had come to ask for help were, even when the latter, who were filling up forms, could hear them.
      What is interesting to note is that interviews by students uncovered a perception among low-income earners that the higher-educated tend to look down on them and are arrogant. Formally attired CDC officers also unintentionally give the impression that they are less approachable.
      Not all CDC officers are trained social workers - there are not enough social workers to go around in Singapore.
      Also, some members of the low-income group can be downright prickly, believing they have a right to receive handouts from the state.
      But surely everybody deserves good customer service regardless of income group? The poor have their pride too.
      Could CDCs perhaps train their staff to understand the sensitivities and psyche of the lower-income group? Steps could also be taken to ensure that staff on duty speak different languages and dialects. Members from the low-income group could even be employed to help.
      It's good news indeed to hear that the Government has raised public assistance spending from $96 million to $140 million, and ComCare funding from $43 million to $67 million. With that much money allocated to the needy, it makes sense to ensure these funds reach the ones who need immediate assistance.
      Take Mr Ramasamy Ratran, a 52-year-old Indian man, who was a pitiful sight when my students and I chanced upon him. He was lying on the dusty floor in his rented two-room flat, having been discharged from hospital just two weeks earlier.
      Fortunately, a former female neighbour and a male friend had taken it upon themselves to look after Mr Ramasamy, who is epileptic and living on his own. Medical social workers had settled his hospital bills, but he was getting no financial help while he was recuperating and unable to work.
      'Can you please help him? He needs help. When I first came two weeks ago, there was no electricity. His flat was in total darkness,' pleaded the former neighbour, who had helped to top up his prepaid utilities smart key to get the electricity back on.
      Mr Ramasamy was not the only one my students and I found in need of assistance. When barber Yahya Pinghani, 39, was hospitalised for a kidney problem, he could not work and had no daily income for weeks. His children skipped school that week because there was no money for the bus fare.
      Mr Pinghani's wife Murni, 41, complained how, after three weeks, her single friend who had applied for help with her at a CDC had already received assistance while she and her family were still waiting. She revealed that her family owed a whopping $4,000 in utilities bills.
      CDCs do give $200 once-off emergency assistance, after which the needy wait six to eight weeks for CDCs to respond. So what do they do when help is a long time coming? Many see their MPs, getting a $50 cheque for their trouble, or resort to collecting food from voluntary welfare organisations. How many know that they can get immediate assistance from your Citizens Consultative Committee? I did not either, for that matter, till I asked around.
      Perhaps it is time that bulletin boards in HDB flats were put to better use. They could advertise where the poor can get help and give details of the schemes. Many low-income earners are illiterate, but the ones who are not will surely help to spread the word around.
      It could also be made mandatory for medical social workers in hospitals to inform social workers or CDCs when a person who is from the low-income group is discharged so they will give him temporary financial assistance during his recovery period.
      Last year, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) set up a community care network for the elderly in Ang Mo Kio. Under this scheme, grassroots leaders are trained by family service centres to identify needy households.
      Perhaps if this outreach scheme is formally extended to include all needy Singaporeans, not just the elderly, it could be used to ensure no one falls through the cracks and to explain the help schemes available to the needy.
      MCYS minister Vivian Balakrishnan recently called on Singaporeans to be eyes and ears on the ground, saying 'we need the whole of society' and not 'an army of bureaucratic civil servants', when he outlined $140 million worth of initiatives for the low-income group.
      The findings of the 18 Ngee Ann polytechnic students who ventured out of their classroom may not be conclusive, but simple observations like theirs should not be belittled. Like any jigsaw puzzle enthusiast will tell you, even one small piece makes a difference.
      The writer is a lecturer at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

      REACHING OUT
      Perhaps it is time that bulletin boards in HDB flats were put to better use. They could advertise where the poor can get help and give details of the schemes.


      Kaye Poh <kayepoh@...> wrote:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-guxHFyz2A (Youtube's "homeless and poor in Singapore"
       
      3 May 2007
       
      See for yourself that Singapore has many poor and homeless begging in the streets and dying - where is the "help" and "look after" promised by Lee Kuan Yew for these Nation Builders?
       

      Kaye Poh <kayepoh@...> wrote:
      26 April 2007
       
      These are the Singapore citizens who built the nation but now need Lee Kuan Yew to look after them:
       
       

      amp_beg.jpg When you are no longeractively
contributing to the govt's coffers, the PAP govt prefer you not burden them with your problems.   candigger1.jpg

       
      Old lady taking a break from digging rubbish bins for discarded aluminium cans  | Singapore | What you get for voting PAP Old age cleaner in Singapore. Millions of dollars for PAP ministers, lifetime slavery for Singaporeans  | Singapore | What you get for voting PAP Old age cleaner in Singapore. Millions of dollars for PAP ministers, lifetime slavery for
Singaporeans  | Singapore | What you get for voting PAP Old man digging rubbish bin along Orchard Road for aluminium
cans | Singapore | What you get for voting PAP cardboard_col.jpg Cardboard.jpgSingapore | Another unemployed Singaporean scouring the bins for aluminium drink cans Singapore | Unemployed Singaporean cycling around estate digging through rubbish for drink cans  homeless_tg1.jpg vag03.jpg 
      vag02.jpg Singapore | Homeless | Old lady sleeping under HDB void deck FTzzzFloor.jpg  Singapore | Homeless person camps out by a busy traffic junction Singapore | Homeless sleeping outside McDonalds in Lee Hsien Loong's Teck Ghee constituency Singapore | Homeless old man makes this corner of a HDB void deck his 'home' Singapore | homeless | vagrant | trio Singapore | homeless | vagrant | What the IOC peeps didn't see. zzz_bike.jpg Singapore | Another "Foreign Talent"
sleeping in what is supposed to be a public 'study corner'Singapore | homeless | vagrant Singapore |
homeless | vagrant Singapore | Homeless man sleeping on a public table Singapore | Yet another "Foreign Talent" sleeping on public amenities homelessA.jpg homeless8.jpg homeless7b.jpg

       
      Kaye Poh <kayepoh@...> wrote:
      To: PM Lee Hsien Loong
      cc: MM Lee Kuan Yew
      cc: REACH
      cc: Straits Times/Today/TNP
      cc: Straits Times - Attn: Sue-Ann Chia
      cc: International news agencies
      cc: Opposition MPs/NCMP/NMPs
      cc: sg_review
       
      25 April 2007
       
      Further to my recent emails on whether Yaacob Ibrahim and Wong Kan Seng are worth their multi-million dollar salaries, I will now focus on Lee Kuan Yew.
       
      Is he really worth his $3 million yearly salary (in addition to his concurrent pension)?
       
      If I use his comments as quoted in The Straits Times of 23 April 2007, "My job to look after those who built nation", I would say he is overstaying his welcome and taxpayers' money is not well spent (for he has failed to look after many who built Singapore), for the following reasons:
       
      1. If that is all he's employed for ("to look after those who built nation"), then he's grossly overpaid and a waste of public funds because those who built Singapore should have been looked after by the state as a given, regardless of whether Lee Kuan Yew is in the cabinet or not! You do not need such a heavyweight minister (in terms of his $3 million salary) to do something that should be a given - like entrenched in the government policy.
       
      2. Even if that is all Lee Kuan Yew does, then he's done a lousy job of looking after many of those who built the nation. Just ask him to go to the heartlands and see for himself the homeless, poor, needy, jobless, marginalised, ... the list goes on. Well, he doesn't even need to go very far - just visit his Tanjong Pagar constituency and he will be able to see many elderly (eg the surviving elderly Samsui women living in run-down HDB apartments in and around Chinatown areas like Sago Lane, Smith Street, etc...)
       
      Has Lee Kuan Yew (or you yourself) asked for a list of those "who built the nation" who need help - like the poor, jobless, sick and needy needing medical treatment, NSmen falling on hard times, etc...Obviously not, because if he had, he would be staring at a list with hundreds of thousands of these pioneering citizens now struggling on their own and living from hand to mouth. Sick needing help? Jobless needing help? Poor? (see below - photo of poor begging or attached file - there are thousands of them all over the island if he does his ministerial walkabout). These are his so-called "those who built the nation" that he claims is his job is to look after them!
       
      (Examples abound of the needy/poor committing suicides recently: mother-daughter committing double suicides as reported in the local Chinese papers of 22 April 2007 
      (link http://www.zaobao.com/sp/sp070422_508.html), the numerous MRT suicides in recent years, homeless cases, ... the list goes on)
       
      Why didn't he do something (like speak on their behalf during the recent Budget debate, like Dr Lily Neo) for the really needy who live on state assistance of $260 per month with a planned increase of only $30 while he gets his salary increase by hundreds of thousands? (Today, 10 March 2007, "Money no enough: MP Neo" - link http://www.todayonline.com/articles/176501.asp ).
       
      Read also Asian Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2007, By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV,
      "Singapore's poor emerge as delicate political issue".
       
      Has he really done his job so far? The results show otherwise.
       
      But there is hope for redemption - if he manages to really "look after" and take care of these needy citizens in the coming years before the next election, to justify his multi-million salary!
       
       
      ==============================================================
       
      MM: My job to look after those who built nation
      He pays tribute to S'poreans who did the 'hard and dirty work' for country
      By Sue-Ann Chia
      Apr 23, 2007
      The Straits Times
      MINISTER Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had this message for Singaporeans who did the hard and dirty work to build the nation: I am here to look after you.
      'I do not believe 50 per cent of Singaporeans can emigrate,' he said at the Young People's Action Party dialogue at the St James Power Station nightspot.
      'So as a government, and personally for me and my colleagues, my responsibility is to look after those who cannot migrate.'
      Paying tribute to them, he said: 'Without them doing the hard and dirty work, I would not have had a decent life, I would not have been a leader, my children would not have been educated.
      'You would not have been educated, so I owe them a responsibility, an obligation.
      'I've persuaded them to follow me, went into Malaysia, got kicked out from Malaysia, had to make a living for them.
      'To make a living for them, I had to make a good living for the people on top by educating them and getting them into the modern economy, and bringing the modern economy to Singapore.'
      He was responding to questions from participants about where their future lies, given the growing opportunities in other countries that are seeking talent, just like Singapore.
      He said that while most Singaporeans could not leave, he is aware that the better-educated and talented ones could do so.
      He noted that the top 20 to 30 per cent of educated Singaporeans have the skills and abilities to emigrate to anywhere in the world.
      And many do, with about 150,000 Singaporeans working in companies, setting up businesses or living abroad.
      'We are now into a globalised world where people who are well-educated, well-trained and especially English-educated have enormous options,' he said.
      But his point to them was this: 'Can you leave with a clear conscience? I cannot.'
      He urged them to think hard about what they owe the country. 'If we lose our top talent, then we will decline as a nation,' he said.
      The key, he believed, was to inculcate a particular message in the young - especially those doing well in schools, colleges, polytechnics and universities.
      'You are here, you are getting this education, you are getting these opportunities that make you mobile, that make you desirable because this mass of people had discipline, (were) hardworking, provided the stability, the base on which you mounted your career.
      'Can you in good conscience say, 'Goodbye! Thank you very much'?'

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    • Kaye Poh
      21 Oct 2009 To: LKYcc: various LKY! You are a disgrace to the school named after you!  First, you had lost your confidence to take impromptu questions from
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 20, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        21 Oct 2009

        To: LKY
        cc: various

        LKY! You are a disgrace to the school named after you! 

        First, you had lost your confidence to take impromptu questions from undergrads (see “NUS forum with MM Lee had “planted” questions for MM” - link http://theonlinecitizen.com/2009/10/nus-forum-with-mm-lee-had-planted-questions-for-mm/#comments! ), and now, after what you and your government had done, you tried to push away the responsibility for the "social divide"?

        Fortunately, with internet and Google, the good doctors' conclusion, "The current social protection system in Singapore is the outcome of conscious policy choices and cannot be atrributed to the globalisation phenomenon...." is all recorded for prosterity. Perhaps with age, you had forgotten about their research, or perhaps, you tried to do a fast one on us?

        Rgds

        ============================================================

        Wednesday, October 21, 2009

        Why the social divide is NOT inevitable.

        I received many responses to my previous posting on the social divide.
        MM Lee had to say what is favorible for his political party and we cannot expect him to admit that something has gone wrong here. For those who have time, I suggest you look up research papers by academics who have looked closely at the problem. I said in my previous posting that globalisation is half the explanation and the other half is our govt policy response to globalisation and the widening income gap. The PAP did not change their old schemes in a big way as the world transformed in the past 20 years. Where did I get this from? Some of it from researchers in LKY School of Public Policy! They took a good look at the problem and concluded that the PAP policy responses were the main cause of the social divide. To make sure I'm not accused of being overly critical of the PAP govt. I leave you with the introduction and conclusion from the research paper.

        "The current social protection system in Singapore is the outcome of conscious policy choices and cannot be atrributed to the globalisation phenomenon...."

        - Singapore's policy responses to ageing, inequality and poverty by Mukul G. Asher and Amarendu Nandy.


        6 Comments:

        • Thanks for putting out info that the mainstream media tries to hide or marginalize Lucky.Kudos to you.

          By Anonymous sg_citizen, at 21/10/09 08:44

        • We might be too late. Our system may have structurlly screwed by LKY and LHL that we might never be able to implement a system base on social justice.

          Before we are able to comfortably lock ourselves up enjoying life on our hard earn accumulated $.

          PAP brought in all the FTs that will eventually demand the same amount of social service. We cannot afford it..

          The last flood gate is to control citizenship which is now still relatively untouch.

          I think LKY and LHL should go.

          By Anonymous http://vonhayek.blogspot.com/, at 21/10/09 09:21

        • I would happily vote Dr Chee's pet hamster if it stands for election.

          But given the lack of candidates ... PAP victory in the next erection NOT inevitable meh?

          Mr Lucky ... you country needs you.

          By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21/10/09 10:39

        • Yes, I think they should go. They have been screwing us for too long, getting away with it and becoming so loose in their speech that they can spout insults and nonsense to your face. We must stand against such tyranny. If not, we are a lost cause and no one will stand up for us.

          By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21/10/09 11:32

        • what to do? God also allows him to live this long. Most TH/GIC companies like to outsource their operations like data entry jobs to foreign countries, making them rich and live better than us. How come they dont get our older citizens to do data entry jobs instead of washing toilets?

          By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21/10/09 11:37

        • I think LKY is past his shelf life.

          He speaks to us as if we are children.

          Death and diseases are also inevitable, yet people do all they can to delay the inevitable; and healthcare is a huge industry and health is always a ministry in any government.

          Letting the inevitable be does not need any policy nor a need for any government too, and we certainly do not need a minister to spout mere tautologies. 

          (Maybe a donkey can do better with just any kind of policy, other than letting the inevitable be.)

          On LKY's point that having a minimum wage cause companies to hire less, he is missing the point entirely, if he is not spouting a fallacy at best, or telling a lie in its most likelihood.

          For if I am a company, if I need one person to do a job, I hire one person, whatever it costs me.

          There is no reason to hire a second person, just because it is cheaper compared to elsewhere. The only reason I need to hire two or more people is when the one person is below par in his productivity.

          To cheapen ourselves and to slack at work is no solution to unemployment: it is not about companies hiring more, but more - or lack of - companies hiring.

          In any case companies set up here get cheap imported foreign so-called talent to run them. So what is LKY talking about?

          So there you have it, Singapore: the most senior politician in the land can spout meaningless nonsense and get away with it.

          Majulah Singapura!

          By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21/10/09 11:42


        --- On Mon, 7/30/07, Kaye Poh <kayepoh@...> wrote:

        From: Kaye Poh <kayepoh@...>
        Subject: To LKY: Why haven't you looked after these cleaners who built nation? - ST (28Jul07) S'pore's dirty secret - ST (23Apr07) - MM: My job to look after those who built nation
        To: "Kuan Yew Lee" <lee_kuan_yew@...>
        Cc: "Hsien Loong Lee" <lee_hsien_loong@...>, "REACH" <reach@...>, "Amy@MEWR Khor" <amy_khor@...>, "Amy@PA Khor" <amy_khor@...>, "Straits Times - Letters" <stforum@...>, "Today" <news@...>, "TNP" <tnp@...>, letters@..., "Asia Times - Letters" <letters@...>, "IHT- International Herald Tribune" <letters@...>, "BBC - News" <newsonline@...>, "BBC" <worldservice@...>, "Letters@ New Straits Times" <mailed@...>, "News Corp" <mregan@...>, "scmp" <scmplet@...>, "Sunanda@ Datta-Ray@Rediff News" <sunanda.dattaray@...>, help@..., "Thia Kiang Low" <ltk@...>, "See Tong Chiam" <chiamst@...>, "Sylvia Lim" <sylvia_sl_lim@...>, "NMP Siew Kum Hong" <siewkumhong@...>, "NMP Thio Li-Ann" <lawtla@...>, "sg_review@yahoogroups.com" <sg_review@yahoogroups.com>, sueann@..., vivi@..., "JBJ" <jbjeya@...>, "Soon Juan CHEE Dr" <sdp2000@...>, george_yeo@...
        Date: Monday, July 30, 2007, 8:44 PM

        "In Singapore elite leaders are protected from competition and our low income workers exposed to intense competition. We end up with leaders with the highest salaries in the world and low income workers with barely enough to eat!"
         
        To: Lee Kuan Yew
         
        31 July 2007
         
        My question to you: Have you looked after these nation-building cleaners who would need 500 years to earn what you earn in a year with your multi-million dollar salary (while doing just half-day work as you once mentioned you needed your beauty sleep, on top of your cushy pension) - or equivalent to more than 1000 man-years of cleaners based on full-day work?
         
        You lack credibility now - all because of money! All those selfless talk about looking after our nation builders - just lip service.
         
        Like the blogger "LuckySingaporean" rightly points out, cleaners' low salaries are due to competition (from "foreign talent") while ministers' high salaries are due to "lack of competition" (in-breeding) - a blank cheque at your disposal (citizens' money)
         
        Rgds
         
        ========================================================

        Sunday, July 29, 2007

        Dirty Little Secret in Our Golden Period....

        In other countries, the top leaders are subjected to a high level competition and low income workers are protected with safety nets. In Singapore elite leaders are protected from competition and our low income workers exposed to intense competition. We end up with leaders with the highest salaries in the world and low income workers with barely enough to eat!

        Well I guess we have a system that is fair, since there is no MINIMUM WAGE for our low income workers, there shouldn't be a MAXIMUM WAGE for our elite leaders. I wonder what will happen if we import the best leaders from around the world to run Singapore Inc and give them the single goal of making life as good as possible for as many Singaporeans as possible. How would they run our system? Will they run it the same way the PAP runs it?

        Suppose we stop the import of low skill foreign labor from competing with the bottom 30% of our workforce what will happen? ....Will we see the income of our cleaners rise? I guess the bosses of cleaning companies will be screaming that their profits are affected if they have to pay higher to attract Singaporeans. Since we don't have welfare, minimum wages and independent unions, one would think that stopping foreign labor from competing with the bottom 30% of our workforce thereby restoring wages to their natural levels from artificially depressed levels would be something sensible. I use the word artificial because a cleaner imported from Bangladesh is happy to take up a low paying job in Singapore because his family back home enjoy a cost of living less than one tenth that of a Singaporean family. To make a Singapore cleaner compete with one from Bangladesh is to increase his misery by 10 times!

        In the beginning. the Foreign Talent Scheme was sold to Singaporeans as a scheme to attract the best talents from around the world to help create the best jobs for Singaporeans. Today a foreigner willing to clean tables for $500 is also a top talent because he & his family can live comfortably on that income while Singaporeans can't. Our Golden Period simply cannot do without the low income workers because the spectacular profits of our GLCs depend on them.... thats our dirty little secret....

        ----------
        S'pore's dirty secret .....
        Straits Times 28 Jul 2007.
        They keep offices, shopping centres and the roads clean. But their wages look shabby compared to the rest of boomtown Singapore. SUE-ANN CHIA finds out why the pay of cleaners and labourers declined over the past decade
        .
        Madam Aishah Mohamed Yunos, 30, toils at four blocks in a Bukit Panjang housing estate, wiping walls and lifts and sweeping and mopping floors.
        The neighbourhood is spick and span. But the job pays crumbs.
        At least that is what Madam Aishah feels when she pockets her monthly wages of $400. If that's not lousy enough, she has not had a pay rise in two years on the job.
        'There's nothing else I can do,' she says with a careless shrug. She left school at Primary 6.
        Her story, if she sticks to cleaning work, could soon mirror that of another cleaner's, Madam P. Devi, 60.

        Nine years ago, she earned $500 a month cleaning offices. Today, she earns $440 cleaning at a mall in Holland Village.

        'I have enough to eat,' she says, by way of prefacing how she has no right to be unhappy because she is illiterate. She and her retiree security guard husband, 69, who gets a pension, are supporting two children still in school.
        The two women, across two generations, are in the beleaguered brigade of Singapore workers whose pay packets have slackened even as other workers have marched ahead in an expanding economy.
        .
        In the last 10 years, the starting salaries of all occupational groups rose - except one.
        That group: cleaners and labourers. Their median monthly starting pay fell 30 per cent between 1996 and 2006 - from $860 to $600.
        The Government's latest wage report says the group's median pay was being dragged down by a sizeable number of this category of workers languishing in extremely low-paying jobs.
        At the bottom of the heap: office cleaners and aircraft loaders. They start with a monthly pay of $500 and $550 respectively.

        In 1996, newbie cleaners made $550 while newbie aircraft loaders made $650.
        While aircraft loaders' pay went up with experience, office cleaners had no such gains. Their median monthly salary fell from $708 in 1996 to $657 last year.
        .
        Twin forces thwarting rise in wages
        WHAT accounts for their shrinking wages?
        Labour economists blame two forces: competition from low-skilled foreign workers and the growing trend of outsourcing.
        'Salaries are unlikely to rise as long as low-skilled local workers compete with low-skilled foreign labour who are often paid less,' says Associate Professor Hui Weng Tat, vice-dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
        .
        His view that foreign workers depress the wages of local workers has been aired before by others, including Mr Lim Swee Say when he was deputy labour chief.
        In an interview last year, Mr Lim, who is now the labour chief, said he suspected the easy entry of cheap foreign workers in some sectors has reduced the incentive for employers to improve work processes and raise productivity. It is easier and cheaper to hire cheap, than to invest in better work processes.
        .
        But he made clear he was not opposed to foreign workers, saying that they contributed to the economy. Economist Lim Chong Yah, who headed the National Wages Council for 29 years until 2001, also last year warned policymakers to be careful about allowing 'too free a flow' of 'very low value-added labour, very low-wage labour'. The other issue to contend with is outsourcing. As firms cut costs and headcount, many outsource non-core functions like cleaning.
        .
        Instead of being on the more stable payroll of these companies, cleaners are now hired at a much lower pay by cleaning agencies which then assign them to different workplaces.
        Cleaning agencies, in their fierce battle to win contracts, slash the price of their bids. The losers: the cleaners who end up with even lower pay.
        .
        Prof Hui notes that outsourcing also encourages service buyers such as building owners to switch to cheaper cleaning contracts. This means some cleaners may continue in the same job under a different employer - often wearing just differently coloured uniforms - while others are forced to seek new employment.
        'This perpetuates the low pay of such workers who do not benefit from any seniority-based component in their pay but are constantly treated as new employees,' he says.
        Part-timers, retirees depress wage figures
        FIGURES from five cleaning companies surveyed by Insight indicate that cleaners' pay may be creeping up.

        Five to 10 years ago, a cleaner would be offered around $580 to $600 a month. Today, he would get about $100 more, says Mr Kevin Loh, the boss of Campaign Cleaning Services.
        Mr Joey Yeung, executive manager of cleaning company SQ1 Development, addsthat those who work in far-flung places like Tuas can get even more, about $900.
        If so, why do the national figures show them making so little?
        Labour economist Shandre Thangavelu suspects the wages are depressed by part-time workers like retirees agreeing to work for a lot less.
        Madam Wang Xiu Qin, 67, is among them. She retired five years ago as a waitress but went back to work two years later to beat boredom at home.
        She has since been cleaning office toilets four hours, six days a week. She is pleased with her pay of $350 a month.
        But there are many others who struggle to survive.
        Madam Sharon Kong, 50, earns $300 a month keeping an office clean. She works three hours a day, six days a week.
        'I earn just enough to buy food from the market to cook and feed the family,' says the mother of two sons, aged 22 and 25.
        Her factory worker husband earns about $1,000 a month and one of her sons help with other family expenses.
        Can she get a better job?
        Not a chance, as 'I only have primary education,' she says.
        Tackling issue through productivity boost
        THE plight of low-wage workers - with stagnant or shrinking pay packets - is an issue the Government and labour movement have been grappling with for some time.
        Three years ago, the Job Recreation Programme (JRP) was set up to boost the productivity and pay of low-skilled jobs in several sectors, from cleaning to construction.
        Last year, Workfare, an income supplement for low-wage workers, was introduced and is now a permanent feature for workers aged above 35 and whose income is $1,500 and below.
        Labour chief Lim Swee Say tells Insight: 'The downward pressure on the wages of low-wage workers will continue to be there for some time as there is no shortage of low-cost, low-skilled workers in the world.'
        ...
        The cause may be global, but the effect is truly local. The biggest worry is the widening income gap between high- and low-end workers.
        Different countries look for different solutions - from a minimum wage policy and closing the door on low-skilled foreign workers to paying foreign local workers the same wages.
        But Mr Lim calls these 'easy solutions' that do not necessarily work.
        He wants Singapore to focus on raising productivity.'When their productivity goes up, their pay will also go up without eroding business competitiveness.'
        Some success has been achieved through JRP, which has boosted the salaries of security guards, landscape technicians and bus captains.
        Mr Lim concedes that 'there is still a long way to go' in improving the pay of every low-skilled worker.
        One major criticism of the programme is that it spreads itself too thin in trying to reach too many sectors.
        Still, Mr Ang Hin Kee, director of NTUC's Employability Enhancement Department, believes it has made a difference to the cleaning sector.
        'JRP pilot projects have demonstrated that workers in the cleaning industry can earn higher wages through re-skilling and job re-design,' he says.
        ...
        He notes how 75 conservancy cleaners who went for the programme found their wages going up from $750 a month to about $1,000. They got a new title to boot: building custodians.
        The new perks come with added responsibilities of weeding, checking and rectifying defects in drains and replacing light bulbs in HDB blocks.
        Another recent success was at three major hospitals which revised their cleaning contracts.
        Previously, their housekeepers just cleaned the wards. Now, 15 of them act as team leaders to inspect ward cleanliness and prepare simple reports.
        Their monthly pay rose from $800 to $1,050. Their job title was also spruced up. The housekeeper is now the facility services specialist.
        But these are small-scale efforts. The JRP has yet to cover the large army of cleaners who clean commercial properties such as offices, shopping centres and condominiums. There are about 22,000 of them.
        .
        It will do so by year's end, says Mr Ang.
        The biggest hurdle in pushing the cleaners' brigade is posed by sceptical companies. They want to see a cleaner environment first before they will pay cleaning companies more for better-trained workers. This causes a vicious cycle as cleaning companies do not pay more and the lowly paid worker sees no incentive to do more. There seems to be no way out.
        ,.
        Mr Lim advocates staying the course with JRP, as skills re-development is the only way for 'more low-wage workers to be part of the race to the top'..
        But the brigade may also have thinning ranks of Singaporeans in time, as the workforce becomes better educated and move on to better work while cleaning jobs are revamped to attract better pay.
        For now, though, the problem cannot be wiped clean.

        posted by LuckySingaporean at 10:00 AM


        Kaye Poh <kayepoh@...> wrote:
        "WHY do needy Singaporeans continue to fall through the cracks despite the Government's array of public aid schemes?" (ST, 7 May 2007)
         
        cc: Vivi Zainol
         
        7 May 2007
         
        Another article on the plight of the poor and the sick needing help. (ST, 7 May 2007, "Help for the poor: So close, yet so far" - attached below).
         
        I am ashamed that it takes some school kids to do the groundwork and legwork to find out the plight of these "nation builders" that Lee Kuan Yew missed.
         
        Whatever happened to the PAP's grassroots organisations - these so-called grassroots cadres with access to the people on the ground? Are they just in name only?
         
        Didn't I read somewhere the PA has yearly budgets in the hundreds of millions, so where does this money go? Surely not the grassroots people since they are all volunteers.
         
        Rgds
         
        ================================================================
         
        Help for the poor: So close, yet so far
        By Vivi Zainol, For The Straits Times
        May 07, 2007
        The Straits Times
        WHY do needy Singaporeans continue to fall through the cracks despite the Government's array of public aid schemes?
        To tackle this question, 18 of my students at Ngee Ann Polytechnic interviewed more than 30 low-income households for a vacation module. They found the biggest bar-
        riers to be education and language.
        Many are illiterate. With little knowledge or understanding of schemes to help them, it's not surprising that some say they know the Government is helping them, but they feel it is not doing enough.
        Some would rather get an extra job than ask for help. Others struggle to make themselves understood and say they do not have the time, money or energy to make return trips to their MP or Community Development Councils (CDCs) to ask for more help.
        For those who did bother, a common complaint heard by students was that the CDC officers are rude.
        Several years ago, as a Straits Times community reporter, I had heard the same comment when I asked a woman with three children, and whose husband was in jail for a drug offence, why she did not ask for help. Describing how her experience with CDCs turned her off, she said a CDC officer had sarcastically asked her: 'Didn't your husband leave you any money?'
        'If he had, why would I be asking for help?' said the troubled woman, who had contemplated suicide.
        One group of Ngee Ann students decided to observe CDC officers in action after receiving the feedback. At one CDC, officers were unfailingly polite - it was the low-income group which was being demanding and uncooperative. However, all the CDC officers were Chinese - help-
        seekers speaking Malay and Indian had to struggle to make themselves understood.
        At another CDC, student Nurlina Fatima Shafrin, 18, recalled how a CDC officer was heard commenting loudly to another officer nearby on how 'irritating' the people who had come to ask for help were, even when the latter, who were filling up forms, could hear them.
        What is interesting to note is that interviews by students uncovered a perception among low-income earners that the higher-educated tend to look down on them and are arrogant. Formally attired CDC officers also unintentionally give the impression that they are less approachable.
        Not all CDC officers are trained social workers - there are not enough social workers to go around in Singapore.
        Also, some members of the low-income group can be downright prickly, believing they have a right to receive handouts from the state.
        But surely everybody deserves good customer service regardless of income group? The poor have their pride too.
        Could CDCs perhaps train their staff to understand the sensitivities and psyche of the lower-income group? Steps could also be taken to ensure that staff on duty speak different languages and dialects. Members from the low-income group could even be employed to help.
        It's good news indeed to hear that the Government has raised public assistance spending from $96 million to $140 million, and ComCare funding from $43 million to $67 million. With that much money allocated to the needy, it makes sense to ensure these funds reach the ones who need immediate assistance.
        Take Mr Ramasamy Ratran, a 52-year-old Indian man, who was a pitiful sight when my students and I chanced upon him. He was lying on the dusty floor in his rented two-room flat, having been discharged from hospital just two weeks earlier.
        Fortunately, a former female neighbour and a male friend had taken it upon themselves to look after Mr Ramasamy, who is epileptic and living on his own. Medical social workers had settled his hospital bills, but he was getting no financial help while he was recuperating and unable to work.
        'Can you please help him? He needs help. When I first came two weeks ago, there was no electricity. His flat was in total darkness,' pleaded the former neighbour, who had helped to top up his prepaid utilities smart key to get the electricity back on.
        Mr Ramasamy was not the only one my students and I found in need of assistance. When barber Yahya Pinghani, 39, was hospitalised for a kidney problem, he could not work and had no daily income for weeks. His children skipped school that week because there was no money for the bus fare.
        Mr Pinghani's wife Murni, 41, complained how, after three weeks, her single friend who had

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