Monday, May 3, 2010

Breathing Space

There have been many calls by the government for the locals to welcome immigrants with open arms and to appreciate the foreign workers that swarm this tiny island.

I think that most locals unhappiness is not at these folks but at the government policies. After all, our forefathers are immigrants and we are a multi-racial society in the first place.

As an analogy, let say we have a family consisting of 3 generations who work hard to build a home. The house was spacious. The grandfather went around to invite friends and neighbours to stay with them, acting as if he is the sole owner of the house. It will come to a stage where there is overcrowding and lack of 'breathing space'. The initial joy of having a more lively environment with new comers will turn into dissatisfaction amongst the other family members with the action of their grandfather. Even if the new members contribute to the maintanence of the house, it will not lessen the frustration of the family members of having their personal sphere encroach upon. Besides, the basic amenities in the house is overtax, with family members have to wait hours for their turn just to use the toilet and bathroom. Then even in their leisure time they find relaxation almost impossible, as the living room is pack like sardine and noisy.

There are many negative consequences of overcrowding besides affecting the quality of life and inducing stresses. We have seen the lower wage workers hit hard by wage suppression and less job opportunity with the steep competition created by external workers flooding our shores with cheap labour. PMET are also not spared either, even with their higher qualification and expertise due to the influx of so many foreign talents.

There has been wage stagnation even for experience workers. Back in 1990s an experienced person starting pay is above $2K doing administrative task. Now, it is about $1.8K to $2K. It is 20 years down the road and inflation has been substantial, not forgetting our GST has gone from 3 to 5 to 7% !

Our aunties and uncles have almost disappeared from the job market and they have been replaced by foreign workers in job sectors which they used to dominate. So much for active aging and working beyond one's retirement age.

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