Spoken like an emperor (with no clothes): Part 2

October 21, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

One of the reasons why Mr Lee continues to resist introducing Minimum Wage is because he lives in constant fear that foreign investors will pull out of the country. He contends that higher wages means higher business costs and higher business costs means less investment.

Such a view was also intimated by Mr George Yeo in his Facebook exchange with Dr Chee Soon Juan. Mr Yeo who was then the Trade and Industry Minister said that high wage levels make investors “go elsewhere.” (See here)

This begs the very huge question: Why, after half-a-century of PAP rule, are we still unable to get out of our addiction to foreign capital?

Foremost is the fact that under the PAP’s authoritarian control, where the ruling clique and its loyalists remain the sole arbiter and beneficiary of power, entrepreneurship has all but withered. In a dumbed down society, we have no entrepreneurial class to speak of which means that we have no choice but to continue to rely of foreign investors.

Unlike other Asian economies like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, who have nurtured global enterprises of their own, we lack the breath and depth of an innovative economy. Singapore is a glamorised service station for multinational companies, or MNCs.

Because of this reliance on foreign capital we are at the mercy of the corporations who insist on keeping wages – workers’ wages, that is – down while maximising their profit margins.

In the meantime, many of our homegrown talent leave for other shores where freedom, both economic and political, beckons.

Mr Lee admits that the exodus of skilled Singaporeans is a “pretty serious” problem. Admitting a problem is one thing, knowing what to do about it is quite another. So what does the Minister Mentor do? He opens the flood gates and calls in 2 million foreigners to come and work on this island.

He tells Singaporeans that these are foreign talent that Singapore cannot do without. According to the MM, our economy would deflate faster than a souffle if we did not take in foreign talent and in such drunken numbers.

Which raises an interesting question: Why is it that after 50 years of an education system that has been chopped, kneaded and cooked by the PAP are we still unable to come up with a talented enough populace to sustain our economy?

In order to continue to provide fuel for its GDP-growth-at-all-cost policy, massive numbers of foreigners – talent or no – are imported into this island. (While doing our walkabout last week, the Singapore Democrats came across a busker in a wheelchair crooning through a microphone. He turned out to be a Chinese national.)

Why? Because foreign workers come cheap. The low cost of living in their home countries compared to Singapore’s allows them to accept wages that Singaporeans can’t. To employers, especially the MNCs, this is manna from heaven.

In such a scenario is it any wonder that Mr Lee rejects the Minimum Wage policy, no matter how much sense it makes?

Make no mistake, our economy is like an old showgirl. We have to constantly keep ourselves attractive by piling on layer after dreadful layer of economic makeup just to keep ourselves looking attractive for the foreign businessman. Meanwhile the gobs of powder and lipstick hide the ageing rot beneath.

And all this while Mr Lee continues to live in his own detached, sycophantic world where the minions around him treat him as infallible. They, of course, have much to benefit from propping up this decrepit system.

This, coupled with the foreign business community who continue to lavish Mr Lee with praise, makes him impervious to warning signs that the use-by date of the PAP system has long expired.

Read Part 1 here.