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The PAP has truly hit rock bottom. The decision to allow the operation of casinos in Singapore is the clearest sign yet that the Government has run out of ideas on how to propel our economy forward.
Instead of coming out with a bold plan to free Singaporeans so that they can develop their true potential and compete with worlds best and brightest, the Government has come up with the imbecilic idea to establish a casino against the expressed wish of Singaporeans to help prop up an increasingly ailing economy.
Singaporeans who are hoping to benefit from a bumper harvest of business and jobs with the advent of a casino would do well to remember the promise of 50,000 jobs that would descend on the island with the signing of the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement in 2003. Where are the jobs? Truth be told, without a reform of our political-economic system, no free trade agreement or free-wheeling casino can solve our economic problems.
Singaporeans would also do well to note that the main beneficiaries of a casino are the Government and the foreign operators who will eat the entire cake of profits, icing and all. Ordinary folks will be left with the crumbs that the diners throw our way. Cheap labour from our neighbouring countries will be brought in to staff the gambling dens to maximize profits for the big bosses. To boot, the people will be saddled with all the social problems. Do the ministers really care about these socioeconomic ramifications when they are cocooned in their police-guarded houses with their million-dollar salaries?
Mr Lee Kuan Yew says that, weighing out the pros and cons, Singapore will stand to benefit from the setting up of a casino. He is wrong. It is the Government that will benefit from the enterprise. A closer scrutiny of the pros and cons will show that Singaporeans will end up losers, as always.
The SDP proposes that the Government takes the following urgent measures to help reverse the negative direction of our economy, instead of relying on the regressive idea of setting up a casino:
Empower the people. Empowering Singaporeans and upgrading their minds, not just their skills, will allow the people to rise to the top of global economic entrepreneurship. To achieve this, present political and economic controls that stifle dissent and enterprise must be removed.
Cease Government control of businesses. Pretend as they might, GLCs cannot provide, much less sustain, economic development in Singapore. They must be dismantled and, in their place, local private companies must be allowed to surface and be given the chance to compete internationally.
Introduce minimum wage. Ensuring a minimum wage guarantees that prosperity is shared by all. Presently, society is so drained of spirit because we keep reducing wages in Singapore while costs continue to increase. The record number of mental breakdowns, suicides, divorces, bankruptcies and the shocking low birthrate are clear indicators. Our social and economic competitiveness will be eroded if we fail to take a holistic view of progress.
Provide retrenchment entitlements. Presently when a worker gets retrenched, he or she is left out in the cold with no financial protection. This causes severe strain on the entire family with serious social repercussions. Paying retrenchment benefits will provide workers a cushion when they are retrenched and allow them time to seek employment.
Employ Singaporeans first. The PAP’s foreign talent policy adds to the burden of Singaporeans by indiscriminately allowing foreigners to seek employment here. A Singaporeans First Policy will require the Government and employers to employ foreigners only if locals cannot be found for the job. This will ensure that only qualified foreigners will be allowed into Singapore.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party
18 April 2005