Monday, February 16, 2009

A cynical view of the government's rescue efforts

There is a Chinese saying : "In adversity one sees true friendship." It applies equally to the present economic adversity as one sees the true countenance of the so-called benefactors.

Of course one cannot be oblivious to the massive activity put in by every member of the government with the noble objective of giving succour to the people worst affected by the recession. The government deserves the accolades that go with such an outstanding display of humanitarian service to these people who are acutely affected by the present economic crisis.

Without attempting to splash any cold water on the government's over-hyped rescue efforts and detract from the government's excellent motives by any unintended cynicism, there is a possibility that some of those who have been badly affected might have missed the rescue net. Conversely, it appears that a number of business concerns have received rather generous largesse from the government when they were in no danger of business contraction. In fact, they have even been contemplating staff retrenchment when they had no need of it.

The Prime Minister is reported to have said at a grassroots gathering that in the present recession he and the government ministers are suffering together with the people who are badly affected. It escapes our comprehension to know what the PM and his ministers are suffering from. Certainly not from the recession! Even with the insignificant self-imposed pay cut, the PM and his ministers are filthy rich with their astronomical salaries of close to two million dollars for the ministers and over three million dollars for the PM each year! Like the businessmen who received largesse when they had no need for it, the ministers were given hefty increases when they were already overpaid. It would be the height of irony if they had to tighten their belts like the suffering plebeians badly affected by the recession.

The plight of the government pensioners of the early seventies period in the last century is not a public attention-grabbing topic in this economic crisis and is not even given lowest priority in the government's consideration. Their attitude towards this group of ex-loyal civil servants; some of whose contributions to the security and prosperity of Singapore were no less significant than some of the past and present eminent ministers; is nothing short of pathetic. And whether the government's aloofness to their plight is an indictment of their callousness is left to the conscience of the PM and his ministers.

It is more than thirty years since their retirement and the barely surviving pensioners are expected to weather through this crisis with a pension fixed more than thirty years ago. A Malay police pensioner wrote in the Berita Harian forum that he was receiving a pension of $300 a month, a sum even less than that paid to those on public assistance!

It brings to mind a Chinese parable which says that whilst the ministers tuck in to delicacies of "big fish and meat" for each meal, the poor plebeians and destitutes subsist on a starvation diet of just "plain rice with soya sauce".

1 comment:

patrickteoh said...

In Singapore, more than any other country I suppose, old people are merely a liability to be tolerated. At the least expense. Singapore is a very successful corporation. And in a corporation you're treated well so long as you contribute positively to the bottom line. Once you don't you're trash. The Singapore government has said that it is not fair to burden the wage earners to have to care for old and useless people ma. Correct?