I couldn’t resist posting this, as yet another typical example of how the Singapore government and its child entities are all so for adapting and going with the flow and yet, on such a simple thing like the HDB Cat Ban where they are irrefutably wrong and backward, they refuse to even apply some thought.
This story was printed from TODAYonline
Buoyant economy, record job creation the result of hard work, sound policies: PM
Wednesday • May 2, 2007
VISITING government officials from an Asian country had lamented to the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) that they wished their unions could be as constructive as their Singapore counterparts.
But when the NTUC leaders related this to union leaders from that Asian country, the retort was: “Please tell our government that the day it behaves like the Singapore Government, we will behave like the NTUC.”
That is why it is vital for Singapore to have a “first-class leadership team” to run a system of governance that delivers results, while working in tandem with employers and workers, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his May Day Rally speech yesterday.
The current rosy economic backdrop — which saw 48,000 jobs created from January to March, some 3,000 more than in the same period last year — is thanks to planning for upcoming challenges, and hard work to put in place sound policies, Mr Lee noted.
“Not everything we’ve done has been straightforward or popular,” he said, citing as examples the reform of the Central Provident Fund, restructuring companies like Singapore Airlines, developing the two integrated resorts and opening up to foreign workers and talent. “We don’t go for instant popularity (and) instant outcomes.”
Singapore needs a team of leaders who are capable, competent, have the right values to improve the lives of all and have mastered the issues over many years — not leaders who come and go — so as to develop “not just any solutions, but good ones” to our problems.
Even though sunny skies are forecasted for Singapore, there are those who struggle, Mr Lee noted.
Take the opening of the new NTUC FairPrice hypermarket in his Ang Mo Kio ward, he said. While the residents were happy, the estate’s shopkeepers felt otherwise, with their takings reduced. But, he argued, should we stop hypermarkets from being built?
Countries that have resisted the global hypermarket phenomenon to protect their local retail sector, such as Japan, ultimately realise that consumers get a wider variety of products at lower costs at such huge retail outlets, he said.
And Singapore has to follow the times, not resist change. What the authorities can do is to help these shopkeepers adapt and upgrade their operations to raise productivity, he suggested.
The Republic has stood out from its competitors due to factors such as a stable political environment that assures business confidence, unions that are open to change, and skills-upgrading initiatives for adult workers.
It is not necessarily because we are smarter than our rivals individually, Mr Lee said. Rather, it is because all stakeholders in Singapore trust each other and work confidently as a team.
Speaking to a 1,600-strong audience at the University Cultural Centre, the Prime Minister underscored the need to lower the salary maximum-minimum ratio down from 1.68 today, to 1.5 or lower. Ten years ago, the figure stood at 1.85.
He argued that having a flexible wage structure under which workers are paid based on their job scope and performance, not seniority, would make it easier for them — especially mature workers — to find jobs and stay employed.
Wage-restructuring was also a theme that Mr Lim Swee Say touched on, in his first May Day address as NTUC secretary-general. The labour movement aims to help low-wage workers upgrade their skills to secure better-paying jobs and bridge the widening income gap, he said.
Last year, 12,000 workers managed to get better-paying jobs under the labour movement’s job recreation efforts. The target for this year is 15,000. There are also plans to increase the ideal benchmark starting pay for low-wage workers to $2,000 or more per month, up from the current $1,500.
Mr Lim, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, urged for greater synergies between employers, workers and the Government.
“Singapore is a special nation … we have a unique blend of tripartism. Let us strive for an even more united Singapore so that all collars of workers, all ages of workers, all nationalities of workers will work, live and play together.”
General-secretary of the Keppel FELS employees union, Ms Atyyah Hassan, 44, told Today she felt heartened by the political and labour leadership’s sustained focus on low-wage workers in times of the expanding economy.
“We appreciate that they are concentrating on this group because without the help, the lower-income will get nowhere in good and bad times,” she said.
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