A shame that Zainal Sapari does not know how to discuss poverty with respect

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There are two problems with what Singapore politician Zainal Sapari is saying here. Zainal is also the assistant chief of Singapore’s only labor union, which is also state-controlled.

(1) First, is he/his government supposed to develop policies for Bangladesh or for Singapore? Is he saying that just because S$700 can buy a foreign worker land in Bangladesh, that therefore it is a “fair” wage for Singapore?

Is he suggesting that because S$700 is “fair”, from his perspective, for the Bangladeshi worker, that it is a “fair” wage in Singapore?

Does he not recognize the problem in his own admission that S$700 would not allow a worker in Singapore to do the same, precisely because Singaporeans are not earning enough?

How minimum wage should be set in Singapore should be determined by the cost of living in Singapore. A “fair” wage is what is adequate for a worker in Singapore, not in Bangladesh, and not anywhere else.

And just because it is seen as “fair” from Zainal’s perspective does not mean that we therefore exploit foreign workers and pay them low wages. They need to pay for expenses in Singapore as well. And Zainal does not talk about the extent these foreign workers would have to scrimp and save, and basically have not much of a life, in order to save enough for their families back home.

The simple question is, would Zainal accept a S$700 wage in Singapore, or even a S$1,000 that cleaners are earning – for his whole life? If not, then it not enough. Wages are too low, simple as that.

(2) Zainal also said that, “I dare say that to hire a foreign cleaner, the total cost is actually higher than to hire a local cleaner.”

I also dare say.

Of course it is, because it is the government that Zainal is part of that has imposed foreign worker levies on companies to hire foreign workers, and these foreign worker levies amount to hundreds of dollars for each worker, even close to a thousand.

Zainal is from the government. If this is a problem, shouldn’t he go back to the government that he is part of, to look at how the policy needs to be changed?

Because companies have to pay such high foreign worker levies, they have to depress the wages of the workers in order to pay the levies. In effect, the policies of Zainal’s government has depressed the wages of workers.

Of course, I can also say I dare say it is more expensive to hire foreign workers. But does he dare do anything about it, to reduce the foreign worker levies or abolish them, so that wages will not be artificially depressed, and workers’ wages can increase?

And what exactly is he talking about, that paying low and depressed wages to workers, can result in a “higher productivity level”? Exactly what research is this based on, when this claim goes against the face of almost any research that has ever been done in low wages?

It is not his business to say that it is “not within his pay grade” to talk about how wages can be increased. If it is not his business to talk about it, then who else can it be?

And it is even less responsible to claim that this remark is a “naughty” reply. Workers’ lives are not a joke for you to laugh about, especially not when they have to live hard lives because of the policies your government has imposed on them. It is not funny.

As it is, SMU-Lien Foundation and Prof Tommy Koh has estimated poverty in Singapore to be as high as 20% to 35%. If so, this is no laughing matter. And quite a shame for a politician not to know how to treat this matter with basic respect.


Roy Ngerng



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9 Responses to “A shame that Zainal Sapari does not know how to discuss poverty with respect”

  • Sapari Heng solipsism:

    Two behaviorists have sex. One turns to the other and says,
    “That was good for you; how was it for me?”

    Hehehe, it’s just a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a puppy.

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  • Bapak:

    They always believe that SGs are daft to believe every things they said.

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  • labour arbitrage:

    //First, is he/his government supposed to develop policies for Bangladesh or for Singapore? Is he saying that just because S$700 can buy a foreign worker land in Bangladesh, that therefore it is a “fair” wage for Singapore?//

    that’s why many white idiots themselves do not quite understand (or pretend not to understand) that labour arbitrage (due to globalization) can do harm to its own nation if it is moderated carefully.

    just like conversely the white idiotic policy does not want daft sinkies to arbitrage the cheap prices of petrol across the causeway (3/4 tank rule) which can result in cost savings good for other purchases here.

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  • AllNotPm'sBrothersBeingSued:

    They’ve lost the plot long ago.
    Now theyre only working for themselves,and their mil$ salaries.
    Spouting bs most of the time.

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  • KNN:

    If Woody can say “He’s not my brother” to the top opposition member in parliament, other PAPies can also tell you to fiack off. Respect?!? Respect my lampar lah!!

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  • Python 5:

    so why don’t he draw a salary of $700 every mth. he can buy land in Bangladesh every month.

    after 10 years, he can even buy up the whole Bangladesh nation.

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  • rukidding:

    He got “banana” inside his mouth lah !

    As long as he keeps ” tha Banana” inside his mouth,..he gets “obscenely paid” for doing “rubbish work “.

    That is how the system works here !

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  • Harder Truths:

    Fair- what is fair?
    Is fair to pappy also fair to you?

    Pappy say million dollar salary is fair. Do you agree?

    Pappy say FT is needed as marketplace is fair. Still agree?

    Pappy say you pay life savings for HDB but value is still zero but still this is fair. Are you sure you still agree?

    When the issue is fair because it benefits a few elites don’t expect a solution by those that it benefits.

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  • ShapeUpOrShipOut:

    This shows the level of intelligence of some PAPs these days.
    Im ashamed of our gov ministers.
    Gone are the days when we were so proud to be SGs cuz we had great leaders!
    Then We didnt have ‘firsts’ or ‘best ‘ accolades but our SG was a pride to us sgs and to some countries, an envy.
    Not anymore.

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