Other measures will be taken as we go forward. This is one initial step – by MP Tan Chuan Jin


Source :

31 Jan ST reports:

A new guidebook was introduced on Monday to give added impetus to the national drive to improve the stagnating pay of low-wage workers.

It is aimed at helping companies look beyond the lowest-price bid, or ‘cheap sourcing’, when awarding contracts for services such as cleaning and security.

But this move to get companies to practise ‘best sourcing’, which looks at whether the bidder is offering fair wages and employment terms to its workers, has been an uphill task.

Many companies say they do not know how to do it, prompting the tripartite partners, comprising the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), the Government and the Singapore National Employers’ Federation (SNEF), to join forces and produce the free guide.

It includes checklists and scorecards for companies to evaluate the contract of bidders as well as ready-made clauses they can insert into contracts.

Mr Koh Juan Kiat, SNEF’s executive director, believes the ‘easy practical steps’ it offers will encourage businesses to adopt best sourcing.

The reason: Companies want consistent and high-quality service and to achieve it, they know workers have to be ‘properly treated and paid, motivated, and well trained’, he said.

Labour MP Zainal Sapari, director of NTUC’s Unit for Contract and Casual Workers, is particularly pleased with the advice to companies to ask how much the service provider is paying its workers if the bid price is much lower than that in the market.

‘We’ve encountered cases where the same cleaning workers are doing the job in a building but at a lower pay because they are now working for a new employer,’ said Mr Zainal.

Best sourcing as a practice to help low-wage workers earn more has been endorsed by the Government. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said as much at the opening of Parliament last October.

In 2010, the median wage of an industrial establishment cleaner was $572 a month, a sum that includes overtime payments and allowances. Office cleaners make slightly more, at $800 a month, and security guards, $1,367.

On Monday, the tripartite partners also issued a revised advisory to guide companies on outsourcing.

Its guidelines want companies to consider, among other things, if service providers give cash incentives to motivate workers to perform beyond expectations.

The new advisory follows feedback from a public consultation exercise led by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Hawazi Daipi last August. The feedback also led to the new guidebook.

A Manpower Ministry survey in late 2010 shows best sourcing practices, promoted since 2005, have yet to take root. The poll of over 1,000 establishments shows more than half adopted three out of the six practices in the advisory.

One employer that favours best sourcing is Resorts World Sentosa. ‘We make sure workers are paid a competitive wage. To us, their ability to respond in a friendly manner is as important as their ability to keep the place clean,’ said its senior vice-president of human resource and training Seah-Khoo Ee Boon.


Press Release Detail – Ministry of Manpower

Comment by MP Tan Chuan Jin :

 Concerns for the lower wage earners are valid and this is one area we are focusing our efforts on. Like I said, this is one step. It is a helpful step but not the last. At the end of it, it’d have to be a range of differen…t measures that we put in place. Workfare remains part of that make-up and an important one in topping up the wages of this group.

If I may, do take take a look at the whole solution space, some of which we’d talk about more as other measures unfold.

Do understand that not everything is launched at the same time because other measures may be work in progress and not ready to be introduced. And to also look at the complete package of outreach to target the specific group.

This is a useful initiative and rather than wait till budget to announce, we would rather push it out sooner and get it going.


Employment Situation, 2011


Source : http://www.mom.gov.sg/newsroom/Pages/PressReleasesDetail.aspx?listid=404

31 January 2011

  1. Supported by strong employment creation, the unemployment rate declined to a 14-year low in 2011. The median income of Singaporeans has increased, amid the tight labour market. Even for low-income Singaporeans at the 20th percentile, real income has grown over the last five years. These are the key findings from the “Employment Situation, 2011” report released by the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department.

    Main Findings
  2. Employment growth remained strong in 2011. Preliminary estimates show that total employment grew by 36,300 in the fourth quarter of 2011, bringing growth in the whole of 2011 to 121,300, slightly higher than the gains of 115,900 in 2010. The bulk of the employment gains continued to come from services, which added 95,100 workers in 2011. This was lower than the increase of 112,600 in 2010. Boosted by public projects, construction employment rose by 22,200 in 2011, much higher than the 2010 gains of 3,400. Manufacturing employment grew by 2,900, as gains totalling 4,800 in the first three quarters offset the losses of 1,900 in the fourth quarter.
  3. With slower resident population growth and most economically active residents already employed, local employment grew by 36,600 in 2011, after increasing by 56,200 in 2010. In response to strong manpower demand, foreign employment (excluding foreign domestic workers) grew by 79,800 in 2011, after increasing by 54,400 in 2010.
  4. As at December 2011, locals accounted for 67.2% of persons employed in Singapore (excluding foreign domestic workers). Foreigners formed the remaining 32.8%, up from 31.4% in December 2010.
  5. Layoffs increased substantially in the fourth quarter, resulting in a slightly higher number of workers affected in the whole year than in 2010. Based on preliminary estimates, 3,600 workers were made redundant in the fourth quarter of 20111. This was substantially higher than the 1,960 laid off in the preceding quarter. For the full year of 2011, an estimated 10,400 workers were made redundant, slightly higher than the 9,800 in 2010.
  6. Amid the strong employment creation, the unemployment rate in December 2011 was unchanged from a quarter ago at 2.0% overall, 2.9% for residents and 3.0% for Singapore citizens. For the whole of 2011, the unemployment rate averaged 2.0% overall, 2.9% for residents and 3.0% for Singapore citizens. These rates were the lowest recorded in 14 years, after declining from 2.2% for overall, 3.1% for residents and 3.4% for Singapore citizens in 2010.
  7. The median income of Singaporeans rose, amid the tight labour market. Among Singapore citizens in full-time employment, the median monthly income from work2 rose by 6.3% over the year to $3,070 in June 2011. This came after growth of 5.1% in 2010. After adjusting for inflation, the real income growth was 1.0% in 2011, following the 2.2% growth in 2010. Cumulatively over the last five years, the median income from work of full-time employed Singapore citizens rose in real terms by 13% or 2.5% p.a. Even for low-income Singaporeans at the 20th percentile, real income grew over the last five years by 11% or 2.2% p.a.

    For More Information
  8. The “Employment Situation, 2011” report is available online on the Ministry of Manpower’s website. More comprehensive labour market data will be released in the “Labour Market Report, 2011” on 15 March 2012.

1 Data pertain to private sector establishments each with at least 25 employees and the public sector.
2 In this analysis, income from work includes employer CPF contributions for employees.



Burma draws on Singapore’s economic skill


Source : http://www.dvb.no/news/burma-to-draw-on-singapores-economic-model/19994
Published: 30 January 2012


Burma President Thein Sein has arrived in Singapore hoping to tap the financial centre’s expertise as the country emerges from political and economic isolation, analysts said.

Thein Sein arrived Sunday for a four-day state visit accompanied by a top-level delegation which included business leaders and top ministers in charge of economic portfolios.

On Monday Thein Sein met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding under which Singapore will provide training for reforms in the legal, banking and financial sectors.

The pact also calls on Singapore to share its best practices in trade, tourism and urban planning.

With the West looking at easing sanctions and businesses closely watching sweeping democratic reforms in the formerly military-run country, the resource-rich Southeast Asian state needs to prepare for an anticipated increase in investments and tourism, analysts said.

“If all goes well, Burma certainly looks forward to being welcomed from the political wilderness,” said Song Seng Wun a regional economist with Malaysian bank CIMB, using Burma’s former name.

“It looks like the Burmese are in a hurry to catch up in the shortest possible time,” he told AFP.

Burma will likely tap Singapore’s expertise in financial services, Song said.

“After so many years of isolation, their capacity to handle the expected inflow of investments and set up the much-needed regulatory frameworks have to be brought up to scratch as quickly as possible.”

A Southeast Asian diplomat also told AFP that Burma needs to train accountants, bankers and other people with technical skills as well as in corporate governance.

“Singapore is the logical place where it can seek help,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be named.

Singapore, a regional financial centre and a favourite hub for global companies, is often seen as a model by its neighbours.

After nearly five decades of outright army rule in Burma, a nominally civilian government took power last year and has since surprised outside observers with its apparent scope and pace of reforms.

Thein Sein, a former prime minister and an ex-general who was a member of the junta, was appointed president in February last year after the November 2010 elections.



CCC ComCare Fund


The CCC ComCare Fund provides urgent and temporary assistance to those who find themselves in difficult situations. Needy residents can go to their nearest Community Centre/Club to apply.

For more info on the Fund: http://app1.mcys.gov.sg/Assistance/CCCComCareFund.aspx

Please share this information with your family and friends, especially to those who may need this assistance.

MG Chan Chun Sing – PAP – Elitist? Arrogant? – by The Real Thing is…

click the link to read the full article :


DANIELS: Academic freedom is alive in Singapore


Source : http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/2012/jan/30/daniels-academic-freedom-is-alive-in-singapore/


Walker Vincoli’s argument (“No student freedom at NUS,” Jan. 26) that Singapore is a totalitarian state unreceptive to the values necessary for a liberal arts education is founded in a flawed ideology of American exceptionalism. It is founded in the idea that Americans have a right to demand changes of others when it suits us and that we should be the models for such change. Vincoli’s portrayal of Singapore and NUS relies on merely a surface reading of Singaporean state and society.

Vincoli neglects to note that Singapore is a dynamic society. As a result of global economic changes, Singapore has recently seen a marked evolution in the very laws and regulations Vincoli noted. While Singaporean law prohibits male homosexual acts, this law is not enforced, and Singapore has a relatively large gay scene. “Let’s not go around like this moral police … barging into people’s rooms. That’s not our business,” former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said in 2007. Though none of this belittles the flaws of the current restrictive laws, Vincoli denies Singapore’s societal evolution.

The general election in May 2011 was perhaps the most dramatic election in Singapore’s history. One of the top ministers lost his seat, and the opposition won 39.86 percent of the vote — the most it had won since Singapore’s separation from Malaysia in 1965. Considering the longtime dominance of the People’s Action Party, this indicates an emerging freedom of choice.

Singaporean students I talked to when I studied at NUS never said they felt unduly restricted or pressured in their speech or votes. The May elections revealed some Singaporeans’ deep-seated dissatisfaction with growing inequality, the high cost of housing and general disconnect between the state and the people.

Singapore’s ban on spontaneous or non-permitted protest is a legitimate problem, but just because there is an apparent limitation on freedom does not mean that it is a debilitating limit or that Singaporeans do not have other avenues to express their concerns. December train breakdowns that left thousands stranded combined with a general economic slowdown triggered an uproar of dissatisfaction that led to a major review of ministerial salaries at the insistence of the general public.

Singapore, while by no means perfect, is not a country wholly without freedom. Freedom isn’t defined in a world of black and white but in a world of gray that lacks universal logics of societal comparison.

For Yale and UNC, both liberal arts institutions, academic freedom is an important issue, particularly as more American universities seek partnerships in Asia. Vincoli suggests that faculty and students at NUS lack the freedom at the core of American academia. However, he relies on an idealized vision of what happens in an American classroom. And his claim that Singaporean students are self-policing subjects only incapable of hard-hitting analysis critical of their government absorbs typical tropes of students in Singapore as docile non-thinkers capable only of toeing the party line.

In my experience, this was not the case. Lack of engagement with coursework or opinions during lecture might instead be a result of an educational environment where grades reign supreme, rather than a fear of reprisal for stating one’s views. One sees this disengagement in American classrooms regularly as well.

Vincoli makes the mistake of conflating Singapore’s limitations on free speech with academic tyranny. NUS has to ensure academic freedom to remain competitive and able to attract top academics from around the world. The NUS campus magazine surprised me with a critical assessment of Singapore’s censorship laws. Professors screened films on homosexuality and other topics banned to the general public. In seminars, professors and students’ political views varied; some took actively Marxist perspectives — which were once met with government brutality — in their critiques of government policies. Though the state sometimes pushes back against unorthodox ideas, that does not mean that professors and students lack freedom or that this freedom is not evolving on a daily basis.

Finally, Vincoli implies that American universities should abandon partnerships with NUS or similar institutions. Yet with Asia’s rising geopolitical importance, it is vital that American academic institutions spend their efforts on building those connections. We do not change the world by walling ourselves off from it. Building partnerships makes it possible to build an environment in which students from around the world can develop the necessary skills and shared understandings in a diverse and ever changing world.

I wish in no way for this column to be construed as a support or a criticism of the Singaporean government, for it is not the role of Yale (or UNC) to change Singaporean politics. That is for Singaporeans to do. The United States does not have a monopoly on defining freedom.


Joseph Daniels is a junior in the UNC-NUS Joint Degree Program. He studied at NUS in 2011.





“The Amazing Story of the Singapore Lion City” – by Gerald W Fry


Source : http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/The-Amazing-Story-of-the-Singapore-Lion-City-30174285.html
The Nation January 23, 2012


What Singapore has accomplished in the past five decades in terms of extraordinary change is truly amazing.


In an earlier column, I had referred to the “Miracle on the Han River” (Korea). The Singapore experience might be termed the “Miracle of the Pacific” as it is one of the most significant Pacific Basin ports and is the headquarters for Apec, the AsiaPacific Economic Community forum.

In the 1950s, Singapore was characterised by political instability, large slums, and an active communist insurgency. Under the dynamic and honest leadership of the brilliant Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore rose to become one of the world’s most modern and wealthy countries and a city teeming with vitality.

Today, its income per capita stands at $62,100, making it one of the world’s wealthiest countries (No 5), well above the US. Being a citystate with a population of only 4.7 million, it has generated currently $225.7 billion of foreign exchange reserves, almost double that of the US with its over 300 million population! In rankings just released, Singapore is No 2 in the world in terms of economic freedom.

How has a new nation that came into existence in 1965, with no natural resources, achieved such dramatic economic success? Three key factors have been:

1 strategic location (it is within a seven hours flight of 2.8 billion people),

2 leadership, and

3 education/human resource development.


In this column I will focus on the latter and the key distinctive features of Singaporean education.

The first and most basic characteristic of Singaporean education is its Confucian character and value system that emphasises respect for education and teachers and high motivation of students. Singapore pays its teachers extremely well and has a new major initiative to make the teaching profession even more attractive. This factor has contributed importantly to the overall high quality of Singapore education.

The second characteristic relates to Singapore’s status as a multicultural and multilingual society. Currently, there is intense interest in the EU in the relationship between the multilingual mind and creativity. If this link does exist, then that augurs well for the future of Singapore. Its current policy is for all its students to be competent in both English and Mandarin, the world’s two most important languages. Many Singaporeans also have command of other languages such as Malay, Tamil, and Teochiew.

A third characteristic is pragmatism. Singapore has emphasised academic fields with high economic payoffs such as science, information technology, business, and economics. Also it chose to send many of its students overseas to utilise the excellent higher education infrastructure already built in the US, Europe, and Australia.

A fourth characteristic related to pragmatism is the country’s stress on multiple postsecondary paths for students and recognition of diversity of talent. Singapore has created strong polytechnic universities to meet the needs of students preferring that kind of skill set and training.

A fifth element has been the stress on the development of a knowledge economy reflected in former PM Goh’s aspiration to have Singapore become the “Boston of the East”. Boston is known as a higher education centre (presence of Harvard and MIT) fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

A sixth element is a focus on globalisation and the development of Singapore as an international education, finance, tourist, and communications hub. Malaysia and Thailand have similar aspirations. Singapore’s key advantage is that its people have the best English in the AsiaPacific region. Thailand’s big advantage is that it has much lower costs than Singapore and its tourist attractions are much more diverse and “exotic”.

Finally, at the moment in Singapore, there is a new thrust on the development of character and citizenship education. Also there is the goal to broaden Singapore education beyond its narrow pragmatism with the development of a new liberal arts college in collaboration with Yale University, called YaleNUS College.

The Singaporean story is an amazing one demonstrating the compelling necessity of achieving both highquality education and honest, creative leadership.


Gerald W Fry
Distinguished International Professor
Department of Organisational Leadership, Policy, and Development
University of Minnesota