Labour chief Lim Swee Say may choose to turn a deaf ear and blind eye to the plight of the low wage earners, but market forces are still very much at work. Gleaned from the latest release of the Labour Market Highlights September 2010, a joint annual publication by the Ministry of Manpower and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, the following provide an insight of what the service, manufacturing and retail industries are offering as bare minimum.
Since the above are "published" numbers, it goes without saving that undocumented hires are much worse off. And what opportunities are there for the barely literate, who are unable to qualify for the WSQ (Work Skills Qualification) certification? Squat by the roadside to sell tissue paper?
Urban expert Joel Kotkin ("Great hawker or great scholar for a great city?", ST 13 Oct) is quoted as saying that "A great hawker is more valuable to me than a PhD in English. There must be dignity of labour and respect." He was expressing disappointment that Singapore society is too focused on paper qualifications - "credential crazy" is what he calls it. Hitting closer to home, he adds, "Do you really need to import all your plumbers, all your hawkers or mid-level office staff?"
Fully agree. Just look at this Lim character, Singapore Armed Forces Scholar in Electronics, Computer and Systems Engineering from Loughborough University and Master's Degree in Management from Stanford University. Despite all his paper padding, the humble chicken rice seller commands more respect from the common people.