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Wednesday August 8th 2018

Celebrating NDP 53 – ten reasons not to be in jubilant mood

As Singapore celebrates its 53th NDP soon, there are ten reasons why we shouldn’t be too jubilant:-

1. No minimum wage

After 53 years of nation building since independence in 1965, we still do not have any basic minimum wage for our low-incomed which does not help in bridging the ever-widening social gap between the have’s and the have’s not.

Employers can offer the lowest possible wage to any worker and often using the threat of hiring foreign workers to further push down our wages.

2. No freedom of speech

There is still no proper freedom of speech and even a one-man public protest is unlawful making a mockery of the democratic values we are trying to uphold.

Many activists were routinely held back by the authorities for carrying out peaceful small-scale vigil protests in the past.

3. No freedom of press

Our press and media are also tightly controlled and nobody really dare to say anything anti-government to the presses without considering the severe repercussions they will face – especially from any pro-government employers.

This is also one huge reason why the people turn to alternative media for any current news as many considered the state-controlled media to be one-sided and merely a mouth-piece for the government.

4. No proper separation of power

The judiciary is seen as part of the government and there is no proper separation of power – thus it is very difficult to bring the government to the court of law without the suit being thrown out of court. For example, the recent death of a SAF recruit though tragic by the government’s own fault admission can be swept under the carpet as no one in the military can be publicly sued because of it’s self-protecting legislation.

5. No pension for elderly

Every three days, one elderly person will die through suicide due to loneliness, sickness and lack of finances. Many also could not afford to see a doctor in a government clinic for follow-up medical attention further prolonging the physical ailment of our seniors.

Many elderly folks have no choice but to work literally to their death as they have no means of survival as the retirement system is non-existent and very self-dependent on our CPF funds.

6. No proper transparency and accountability

Due to the long period in power, the government has consolidated it’s power base till the point that it lacks proper transparency and accountability.

A small opposition in Parliament could not provide sufficient check and balance to a lop-sided system that allows the ruling party to continue it’s domineering way of governance.

7. No unemployment benefit

As our locals continue to face unheralded competition from cheaper foreign workforce in the search for jobs, there is also no proper safety net and many of our jobless turn desperate and resort to silly measures to provide food on the table for the family.

Many drive Grab as a means of survival and jobs like security guards become very sought-after due to its low entry barrier.

8. No proper labour laws

Our labour laws are still very much skewed towards the employers and the tripartite system merely encourages such an unholy alliance between the government and employers – the workers have the least.

Many aggrieved workers bring their employment disputes to the labour court but employers could still escape punishment as it is not mandatory for them to attend the labour hearings.

9. No real alternative voice

Most alternative voices are being suppressed by law suits or covert coercion rendering the governance system one-sided. Nobody now dare to speak out against the government without the fear of being taken down and self-censorship is a huge effective deterrance within the system.

There is hardly a strong alternative voice and the state-controlled media helps to drown out any feeble voice that the alternative has.

10. No future

Many young people fail to see any hope for them in the current system and has opted to move out of the country for greener pastures. Close to 200,000 Singaporeans are now living and working abroad with few ever considering returning home for good.

The brain drain is anticipated to continue unabated unless something drastic changes back home.

Written by: Gilbert Goh

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