Extracted from http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/
I wish to say a few words on why there should be a minimum wage. It is necessary to ensure that the weakest members of our society, i.e. the poor and lower educated, are given a wage that is sufficient to meet the cost of living and raise a family. They should not be required to work 12 hours a day or two jobs, just to earn enough.
Most countries in the world has a minimum wage, including the low income and high income countries. Even the USA, which is the worlds biggest proponent of the free labour market, has a minimum wage.
A minimum wage may not increase the business cost significantly. It just reduces the huge profit earned by the business owners, salaries of the top management and the rental costs. The share of business cost of the minimum wage earners is probably not significant, except for labour intensive industries.
There is less economic pressure for a minimum wage policy in a big country. If necessary, a person can move to live in a low cost part of the country. Some people can go back into farming, for example.
But in a small country like Singapore, the choices are limited. So a minimum wage policy is necessary.
The argument against a minimum wage is that it will drive jobs to other countries. Let us look at the facts. Are our jobs going overseas? Hardly!
We have the opposite situation. Many jobs are created in Singapore, that have to be filled by low wage workers from other countries.
I am surprised at the large number of these foreign workers. They increase the demand on our public infrastructure and facilities and increase the congestion in Singapore. Is this good for Singapore?
These low cost foreign workers compete with our local workers. Many of our local workers cannot find jobs and have to be unemployed. The unemployed are criticised for being “choosy”. Is this true? Many of our elderly are willing to take menial jobs as cleaners just to survive. I respect them. I hope that we can give them a decent wage for their work.
We must remember that there is a high cost of living in Singapore. More so, for a worker who has a family to feed. We cannot expect them to accept the same wage that is adequate for a foreign worker who feeds a family in a low cost country.
Tan Kin Lian
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