Slave ships & supermarkets: Modern day slavery in Thailand

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The Archbishop of Singapore and his unfair terms on the LGBT community

I am a Catholic. No, correction. I was a Catholic. Not anymore though. Even if I still believe in the concept of God.

The Catholic church’s view on what is right and wrong in the eyes of God, is to say the least, cherry-picked. One such example, is of course the recent letter by the Archbishop of Singapore, William Goh, regarding the issue of LGBT’s. You can read his statement here if you haven’t already done so.

It has been a struggle to say the least, to understand where each religion – especially the Catholic church – get their sense of entitlement to the ultimate truth of the way of the world. Faith is not fact – not to everyone in this world at least. While I have some level of faith, I find it hard to dictate my faith to others as a form of fact.

It is one thing to disagree with the LGBT lifestyle – something I myself had problems accepting in the past – but to say that it is not the way of God is unfair. Unfair because the church is unable to prove between fact and fiction definitively. And therefore to tell people what the “right” way of living based on faith masked as fact is quite simply unfair.

Yes, many believe religion is the truth. And that’s a wonderful thing, to believe in something bigger than all of us. But I – and I assume many others – would appreciate that such a belief not be extended to us.

If the world is made for all of us, why can’t the civil liberties extended to some, be extended to all?

Why the CPF debate is the perfect example of our lack of political rights

For those who are following the situation regarding our CPF currently, you might feel frustrated. And so you should. It is testament to the lack of political and social rights Singaporeans have in our own country; contrary to what they might have you believe.

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin, states that the current CPF system is valid. In fact, he justifies this by stating that the CPF system is the way it is because it is formulated from a “dignity perspective” as the government wants to ensure people can support themselves, as they grow older.

We do not need a highly intellectual rebuttal to counter his argument. Simple logic will allow us – Singaporeans – to prove to the government that if the CPF is meant to aid our retirement or old age, then what the government is currently doing is counter-productive.

Our CPF in comparison

Let’s put this into a little perspective. As cost of living continues to rise in Singapore (and in the world), it seems counter-productive to have less control of our money.

For instance, between Hong Kong and Singapore, Singapore has been ranked the more expensive city-state. Yet our compulsory contribution is significantly higher at 20% compared to 5% income capped at $1k, which means we have significantly less money to spend now – as income rises – while our draw out age continues to rise. As a result, family planning, quality of life and overall welfare would inevitably decrease.

It is definitely understandable for the government to look out for out future, and the future of our state. But if Singaporeans can’t enjoy the financial freedom our salaries offer, why would Singaporean citizens be invested in Singapore’s future?

Furthermore, Hong Kong enjoys full withdrawal at the designated age compared to our monthly withdrawal for life. This would allow Hong Kong citizens to invest further should they choose to, as they would have the funds for it. We wouldn’t have such a luxury if our payouts were monthly.

But ultimately, as I would like to point out, we should have the luxury of choice when it comes to choosing how we want to spend our money – especially during our retirement years.

We are Singaporeans

The government does well to promote Singaporeans to the world as hardworking, savvy and smart. So why then should the government control how much we choose to take out of our CPF when the time comes? If the government promotes us as highly capable individuals, then they should trust the way we plan our finances for our future. And if we don’t, teach us, don’t treat us like children.

Furthermore, my parents – like many of your parents or you yourself – have worked hard to amass the amount of money that is in their CPF (or at least what remains of it since they used most of it to pay for our HDB flat). Shouldn’t they be entitled to the money they so rightfully deserve?

Also if the government doesn’t allow them the basic social right to control their own finances, they are suggesting that Singaporeans are not smart enough to do so. Is that what the government is insinuating?

My mum works in the civil service. If the government trusts her to be part of a functioning government, then there should be no reason why they can’t trust her with her own (retirement) money.

The money we earn for our retirement is our human right

Who is anyone to suggest to another how they should spend their retirement money? They only have one life, and it shouldn’t be for the service of a government. That is what our taxes are for. If our government cannot understand this, then Singapore is going down a very slippery slope filled with potential human right potholes.

As Zygmunt Bauman said, social and political rights are two sides of the same coin. Deny someone their social right, and they would feel like their political right has been stripped away from them as well. We can be grateful for all our government has done for us – I know I truly am. But when they take away our social freedom, they take away our dignity, which Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin is apparently fighting so hard to protect.

I think it is time for our government to reconsider what they think the CPF means to its citizens.

 

Pay our low wage workers foreign workers more!

Whoever said that the jobs our low wage foreign workers do are simple is (I’m sorry to say) delusional. In fact, we might have to reconsider calling some of the work low skilled in the first place.

I’m currently learning to,

  1. Build a house
  2. Cut grass for snooty rich people who don’t have time to do it themselves and
  3. Do excavation work.

If the definition of low skill work is “not needing a high level of skill”, then none of the above three qualify – contrary to popular belief.

Why is cutting grass difficult?

Cutting grass requires a level of experience that takes time to acquire. For instance, you have to make sure the part that cuts the grass is at the right height. Too high and you won’t even cut the tip. If it were too low you would shave all the grass right off and leave a burn mark on the ground.

On a side note, the garden of the house I cut is now the Sahara desert. So I’m now a fugitive in the states. Also if cutting grass isn’t easy, imagine the rest? Just saying.

Moral of the story

Similar to cutting grass, all the other “low skill” work our foreign workers do shouldn’t be considered as such. And even if we disagree on that, the pay level is in desperate need of an increase, especially since many other developed countries don’t see them as jobs that deserve wages that low.

In addition, while I understand that Singapore needs to remain wage competitive, there is no justification for paying our foreign workers such abysmal wages doing work that isn’t even as easy as they make it out to be.

Something needs to be done.