Secretary-General of the Workers' Party (WP), Pritam Singh, lauded and supported the latest Solidarity Budget tabled by Heng Swee Keat in Parliament last afternoon.
Not only was the budget adequate to help vulnerable Singaporeans, Singh also felt that the “quantum and the time frames for the various schemes are calibrated according to the different degree of vulnerability faced by the target groups”.
However, Singh was keen for the government to not become complacent, and urged them to study the possible long-term effects of COVID-19, over and above the nine-month period that the Budget schemes will take effect and be disbursed.
Critically, Singh pointed out, the pandemic has illustrated the vulnerabity of some sectors in Singapore, primarily due to our dependency on low-wage foreign workers.
Singh opined that more can be done to ensure a higher proportion of Singaporeans are employed in these vulnerable sectors,.
This can be done by comprehensively reviewing the living wage in Singapore. They must receive fair compensation and respect for the critical work that they are doing.
Besides this, Singh also urged for an upgrade of the living-conditions of foreign workers in Singapore because “it is a stain on Singapore and Singaporeans”.
These are valid concerns raised by Singh. Indeed, COVID-19 has ruthlesslhy explosed our flaws. Having more Singaporeans employed in critical essential sectors, it provides Singapore and Singaporeans with a sense of security that can help transmit calm during periods of chaos.
The welfare of foreign workers is also in need of a review. Without them, some of our most important industries can be semi-paralysed. While the wages earned here may be more than what they earn back in thheir homelands, it should not be reason for us not to treat them well and provide them the basics of proper and sanitary living conditions.
The government has done well but they must realise that they are not perfect.