Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Matter of Trust (2)

Thanks to everyone who posted your views. Not surprisingly, views are divided. It shows that different people are concerned about different issues and have different perspectives. That is only natural as we are dealing with issues concerning our future.

Some have said that I was too aggressive with the Workers’ Party (WP). There is a certain amount of cut and thrust in Parliamentary debates, but anyone viewing it live will know that all speeches (both from ruling and opposition parties) are delivered in a measured way. But views have to be scrutinised, tested and challenged, so that their full implications will be understood. That is what the debate is for.

We now know that the WP’s proposal of freezing foreign worker numbers will in effect create haves and have-nots. If you have a home, good; if you do not, you wait longer to get your house. If you have a job, great (provided your employer does not fold or send his business elsewhere); if you are graduating or joining the work force, you may have to wait or leave Singapore to get one. If you have a maid, hold on to her; if you are new parents, or have elderly parents, and need someone to help you, too bad as no additional maids will be allowed in.

If your business folds, and you have to lay-off your Singaporean employees, tough, but the Government should think of a solution to help you. And we all have to wait much longer for more trains, buses, hospitals and other public services.

If you put aside all the rhetoric, this is really what it amounts to. The WP then glosses over the ill effects of its proposal by arguing that only businesses will be hurt, and Singaporeans will not. Everyone can see how absurd that is. The simple truth is that the WP is advocating a figure of 5.8m, not because there is any logical basis, but because it sounds better.

One thing the Government keeps getting blasted for is that it appears to rule with its head and not its heart. That is a valid point. But that does not mean it should completely swing the other way. I think both head and heart are equally important, and must feature in every policy decision. So while we should formulate policies with the aim of helping Singaporeans (heart), there must be logic to that policy and its implementation so that Singaporeans are in fact helped (head).

The Government has much to do to re-capture the hearts of Singaporeans. The best way to do that is for Singaporeans to feel that the Government’s plans and initiatives have meaningfully improved their lives and give them confidence for the future.

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