The debate on minimum wage in Singapore has recently picked with economic professors weighing in and calling for its introduction. Even ambassador Mr Tommy Koh has come out in support of the the idea. Hong Kong recently legislated minimum wage and Malaysia is now considering it.
But before all this came to the fore, even when the idea was not given the time of day, the Singapre Democrats had been calling for such a law to support our workers. As early as 10 years ago, the SDP was already campaigning for minimum wage.
In the 2001 general elections, we called for its introduction. In our election campaign campaign booklet that we had distributed, we wrote:
What it means to vote for the SDP…
…To help Singaporeans tide over this recession, and to help Singapore grow economically again, the SDP proposes the following:
Minimum wage of $5 per hour. Under the proposed law, it would be illegal for workers to be paid less than this amount an hour. This will prevent Singaporean workers from being exploited…
But hardly anyone knew about this because it was covered up by the media. Even now when in reports on the subject, it ensures that SDP is not mentioned.
Why is this fact important? Because the people need to know about the work that the opposition is doing and the alternative ideas that enable them to make an informed decision during elections.
The PAP has repeatedly attacked the SDP for being confrontational and not providing alternative ideas. The minimum wage issue is a clear example of how the ruling party has used its control of the media to keep the truth away for the masses.
It is only in recent years with the advent of new Internet tools that these untruths about the SDP has slowly been uncovered.
But this is only on the Internet which still has a limited reach. The PAP is banking on the fact that the majority of the electorate is still dependent on the traditional media for its news and because of this, news about the Singapore Democrats must be censored.
This is where our supporters and friends need to come in. You need to help us spread the word about the work that we are doing and counter the untruths spread by our opponents about us.
We have been the party that have made comprehensive alternative proposals for our economy and society that many experts and analysts have supported – the minumum wage is but only one example.
We work not by jumping in front of a marching crowding and pretending to lead it. We work by studying the situation in Singapore and then making proposals for the good of the people whether these ideas are in fashion or not.
This is what leadership is about: calling the attention of the people to problems before the situation gets out of hand rather than jumping on the bandwagon when people start talking about them.
Such is the real work of the opposition.