Job losses in Singapore are taking place at breakneck speed but Government leaders seem to be oblivious to the plight of thousands of our workers swelling the army of unemployed.
There have been more than 10,000 layoffs in the first three months of this year alone, admitted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. He added that the economy could shrink further from the already expected downward spiral of between -2 and -5 percent.
Adding to the growing uncertainty is Mr Lim Swee Say, a minister in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and secretary-general of NTUC, who said recently that "there could be a second wave of retrenchment coming on board" and that "it was anybody's guess" what the retrenchment figures would be.
Mr Lim is paid $2.5 million a year for telling us it is "anybody's guess" how many people would get retrenched. Anybody could have made this guess.
The PAP government boasts having recruited the cream of society into its ranks with ministers extraordinarily gifted to foresee "storm clouds or crises" appearing on the horizon twenty to thirty years ahead.
And yet the same team of the highest paid politicians in the world cannot find solutions to the current economic meltdown and is reduced to simply waiting for the US economy to pick up so that we can start selling to the Americans again.
If this is the case why are the self-proclaimed high-caliber ministers continuing to act like they are God's gift to Singapore?
As the days go by, it is becoming clearer and clearer that the present crisis is mainly due to the PAP administration committing the country's economic activity to one of contract manufacturing for the US and European markets. For more than four decades the export-driven, parts-manufacturing economy has been on autopilot.
But now that the Western economies have tanked, what is the PAP prescribing for our ailing economy?
Besides the Government and Temasek-linked companies dominating the local scene, more than 70 percent of the manufacturing sector is in the hands of foreign multi-national corporations (MNCs) with most of the activity concentrated in low-end technology with hardly any high-tech research and development.
With its control of everything in Singapore, including the social, cultural, political and economic spheres, the PAP Government has alienated the people from the state, resulting in droves of Singaporeans emigrating.
Every year 1,000 Singaporeans renounce their citizenship. Horrendous as this figure is, it doesn't tell the whole story. Every month more than 1,000 Singaporeans seek permanent residency in another country. And with them go the skills that Singapore would do well to retain.
But the PAP's solution is to let cheap labour from Third World countries flood society so as to suppress wages in order to keep up the pretense that we are still a profitable economy. Of the new jobs that are created, a majority goes to foreign workers.
More than one million of the 4.8 million people in this country are foreigners. But the Government has paid scant regard to the economic and social implications from such sudden and massive influx of foreigners.
Are there no other solutions? Why can't the authorities look into the reasons for the exodus of Singaporeans out of the country? Why can't we stimulate creativity and entrepreneurship by allowing the people freedom instead of choking the life out of them with the dictatorial system?
Heck, why are the ministers making themselves millionaires when they can't lead?
And why keep stuffing the cabinet with more ministers -- from 18 to 21-- while the economy is hemorrhaging?
One way out of this present economic nightmare is to free Singapore and let the people take the lead. There is much potential that is being killed by the PAP's unbending, authoritarian rule.
Reforming the system to allow alternative views and ideas to flourish is imperative. One-party rule in this modern era is not the way forward.
Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party
(12 Apr 2009)