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Quick MRT thoughts on Prof Lim Chong Yah’s economic proposal. April 19, 2012

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, Economy.
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2 comments

Broken MRTs have never been so common since its inception back in 1987. I was running away from the massive after office rush hour by having dinner at a shopping mall. When I was having dinner, I saw an elderly man in his 70s making his slow pace from table to table. When he came to my table, he politely asked me if he could clear my plate. I was looking on as I recalled the many senior citizens who have to work even when they are in their 70s and 80s. It is not a rare sight. One of the most memorable impression was an old lady who was clearly suffering from osteoporosis. She had a 90degree hunched back and had to clean the toilets at Raffles City. I told her to forget about drying the toilet floors and just quit the job. She told me she couldn’t because her middle aged son had trouble making ends meet. For some weird coincidence, she boarded the same MRT train as me later. I gave my seat up for her. And an Indian guy gave his seat up for me and we ended up sitting together. She talked a lot along the journey from HDB flat prices to jobs to her toilet chores at the shopping mall. It left a strong impact on me. 

Unfortunately after some 2-3 years, I am still ploughing myself. If  I had the ability to hire these old folks for a much higher pay and at far shorter hours, I would without hesitation. If I could really have it, old people should not work.

The cost of living is getting higher. I could dare say it has gone through the roof. Low income earners are making far too low. And when I read the proposal from Prof Lim Chong Yah, I applauded. Not only the old are working with meagre pay but so are those blue collar workers. In due course, everyone will get it in one way or the other. Cutting labour costs has its limits. How low can you go when living costs go up all the time? The law of economics can do up a certain point, often playing around with figures to solve problems. The ultimate is to feel the ground and hear what people are complaining about and act on it. Human factors have different permutation set of issues that contribute to those economics problems. We cannot plainly say we do this policy and that taxation, while insisting that wages must be kept low for businesses to survive. To me, it doesn’t make full sense. The way I see it is that if costs is the way to handle problems so firms don’t crash, then we are all screwed, as costs cannot go any lower. Falling to an unacceptable low point is as good as being unemployed. 

I hope Prof Lim’s proposal is taken in somehow. I think we need a flip. And a quick one too. — Karen Fu