Date: Tue, 29 Sep 2009 13:50:17 GMT
Local: Tues, Sep 29 2009 9:50 pm
Subject: Singaporeans deserve better
We deserve better - thoughts of a technician
Monday, 28 September 2009
My name is Amin. I am a technician in my early forties, married with
three school-going children. I tied the knot with my beloved Fatimah at the
age of 28. My wife used to work as a clerk in a statutory board but is now
my minister for domestic affairs.
We live in a four-room flat which we bought some years ago in the
northern part of Singapore. I am servicing my flat installments through my
Two of our older children are in secondary school while the youngest
is in primary four. I travel to my work place by motor bike to escape the
hassle of travelling by feeder bus and the MRT.
I am often told, not too subtly by government and union leaders, that
I should consider myself fortunate because I am still gainfully employed.
Although my monthly income is about $2,000 my take home amount is less than
Besides putting food on the table I also have to take care of other
expenses, which include my children's school expenses, utilities,
transportation, etc. Occasionally we have to cope with the unexpected such
as when the children fall sick.
At the end of each month we can barely make ends meet.
Life in Singapore is becoming more and more expensive. It is really
tough to raise a family. My wife and I also make it a point to keep in touch
with our elderly parents and chip in whatever we can to make their
retirement less painful. We pray very hard that we never have to be
hospitalized because we cannot afford the expenses.
I am nonetheless supposed to be "fortunate". The frightening thing is
that there are other ordinary workers who earn even less but have financial
obligations no less daunting than mine.
But are we not supposed to be living in the First World and enjoying
the Swiss standard of living? Every now and then we are told that Singapore
is number one in something or other. Our port is the world's busiest, SIA is
the number one airline, our so-called sovereign fund is among the biggest in
the world etc, etc.
I used to feel proud of these achievements. But over the last couple
of years I have begun to have second thoughts. I ask myself what have these
achievements got to do with me?
The fact that Changi is number one really has nothing to do with me.
The fact that our reserves amount to a few hundred billions has done nothing
for the average Singaporean like me. We are still ourselves and still
toiling away day in and day out for an income that is not commensurate with
the amount of work we put in.
On the other hand, our ministers are the most highly paid in the world
as their salaries are pegged to the country's top earners.
Worse, we now have to compete with foreign workers who threaten our
livelihood. We also have the largest number of foreign immigrants percentage
wise. No ordinary worker - at least the people I know - feels secure with
his or her job. Any talk of increased wages will inevitably be countered by
the threat of being retrenched.
The temptation for employers to hire cheaper foreign labour is too
attractive to resist. There is absolutely no job security for us.
Should we lose our jobs we are expected to downgrade. This is what I
don't understand, we are supposed to be No. 1 in this and that but we
constantly face the propsect of having to downgrade.
Worse many have to resort to begging and queueing for free food. This
is our country. We have served our country in many ways. Our parents too
have done their share in making Singapore what it is today. Surely we
deserve better. But alas this is the real situation that exists in Singapore
A Government leader tried to make us believe that I as a Malay enjoy
special privileges under the constitution. In fact we Malays have not
received any special treatment. We identify ourselves with Singaporeans of
other races and share the same hardship as all other citizens.
Unfortunately, our loyalty to Singapore has always been questioned to
the extent that we have been deprived of many opportunities to serve our
nation. But despite this we will join our fellow Singaporeans and put our
shoulders to the wheel to build a better nation for all.
We see little hope for a better life in Singapore unless there is a
drastic change in the way this country is being run. What good can our
country's multi-billion reserves do for ordinary people like us? We are
beginning to feel that the Singapore of today is only meant for the rich and
powerful - many of whom are not Singaporeans.Ordinary Singaporeans like
myself exist only to serve their interests.
We truly long for change. Ordinary Singaporeans deserve to be treated
better in our own country.