Comment posted in my blog (edited)
I talked to a Taiwanese friend who works for a Taiwan multi-national company. I commented about the government policy that allowed too many foreign workers aimed at the cost-competitiveness of the country. This has indirectly resulted in older workers not being able to find jobs or have to compete with low-paying foreign workers who feed a family in his home country of lower standard of living. I opined that maybe the government policy should be tightened.
She was surprised to hear my views, and offered another perspective. The use of foreign workers is unavoidable, and is part of globalisation. It is happening in many countries, e.g. Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia and Europe. Even at the specialist level, the substitution of local labour with cheaper foreign labour is unavoidable.
The key is whether the government have instituted enough social welfare policies to help the population in times of needs and defray their cost as much as possible. For example, the Taiwanese government has a very comprehensive medical care program for all her citizens. The cost of medical is low as it is subsidised heavily. She finds Singapore's medical expenses ridiculous and wondered how the poor would be able to afford it.
In Taiwan and Australia, the government have entrusted itself to take care of all her citizens who have contributed all their life to the good of the country. In Singapore, we call these welfare states as being unsustainable. But is it really that way? Have we looked at it seriously?
How is it that an insurance company can operate profitably to insure and take care of the ill and sick. Why is it that the government cannot risk pool effectively with the economy of scale for four million population that are compulsory customers of the national medical program?
Maybe it is timely to relook at the assumption that heavily subsidized medical or social welfare policies are not sustainable for a country like Singapore. Has the assumption changed from the time when Singapore was still a developing country, to the present time when Singapore is growing with all its might, investing billions into other countries.
We can use our surpluses to help Singaporeans to tide over in times of need. Would it be possible to just take out a tiny 0.5% of the budget allocated to GIC to achieve a program that can help create a sustainable health care system or other social policies?
Perhaps the other political parties can add value and suggest alternatives - instead of just critisizing the government. Sadly, the other political parties are lacking in substance and I would not entrust my future with them.
Someone said, "To enter politics, a leader must have passion. He wants to shape the destiny of the country and improve the lives and standard of living of people. He also wants to have a place in history of good things he has done for the country and people. "
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