Letter to Singapore Prime Minister: Singaporeans Deserve Better - Solutions Needed Before Next General Elections sign now

To: The Prime Minister of Singapore Mr Lee Hsien Loong

Re: Singapore - Petition for and on behalf of 2 groups of Singaporeans the unemployed & the stressed-out workers/self-employed/business owners

4 August 2005

Dear Prime Minister Lee,

As you are aware, Singapore has been going through drastic structural changes in recent years, resulting in many Singaporeans losing their jobs. At the same time, those who have managed to avoid the axe may be faring no better as they are constantly fearful of being the next one to be retrenched, in addition to increased workload and responsibility (one person doing the jobs of 3 or 4 now) probably due in part to the fact that it is now an employers market who can easily say, If youre not happy, you can always quit! The fact that many companies still practice discrimination (albeit unofficially and subtly) exacerbates the situation both for the unemployed as well as the employed (a good article on the plight of these Singaporeans can be found in the Today newspaper of today, 4 August 2005, And the hunt goes on by its Voices Editor, Yvonne Lim). The threshold for someone considered old in the laissez-faire market place seems to be getting lower by the day it may be 35 years old today as in the case of 35-year-old Amelia Sim, but soon, a 30-year-old Singaporean will find himself or herself discriminated when compared to someone in the 20s, found in abundance both in China and India, not to mention the up and coming Vietnam, etc... Even someone in his or her 20s today will soon be in the 30s, and unless something is done at the macro level by the government (and done quickly), he or she will face the same predicament as Amelia and many more.

For those running their own business, a number of them are probably there because they have no choice they were probably once in either of the 2 groups above. The business environment in Singapore (competing against the MNCs and the GLCs) certainly doesnt make it any easier for them to make a decent living.

If you add up the groups of Singaporeans above, Im sure you can reasonably expect them to number a sizable proportion of Singapores workforce. And I can bet to the last dollar that if a real poll were to be taken on whether they were happy with their jobs (for those with jobs, or with their employment situation for those without), their answers will be negative.

Generally, Singaporeans can accept the fact that with increasing globalization and competition, hard work is not the issue. Neither are they expecting iron rice bowls or the permanence of jobs. Rather, it is the fear and stress of this great unknown hanging like a giant albatross over their heads that is making life and work (for those with jobs or businesses) so unbearable these days. Of course, for those still trying to find jobs, they cant even get started, not for lack of trying though. We do not expect the government to build walls around us with protectionism but clearly, the government must do something to help this large group of Singaporeans with some innovative and long-term solutions to tide over the problem (like I said, no one is immune, not even the young graduates). The government must ensure Singaporeans are happy with their work as they are encouraged to work way beyond their retirement years since they have to fend for themselves in old age.

Therefore, I humbly and sincerely urge you and your cabinet (and fellow civil servants and officers in the various statutory boards, GLCs, etc..), many of whom are brilliant scholars with flowing credentials, to come up with concrete solutions before the next General Elections so that your colleagues can have the mandate to be returned to power to follow through on them. I am very sure that the electorate will be more than happy to return you and your colleagues to power if working and living here are made less stressful.

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Janelle VincentBy:
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Singapore Prime Minister


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