Monday, October 26, 2009

At my cousin's wedding

Last night my husband and I attended a cousin's wedding. For many of the relatives that we do not meet often, this is the first time we see them after we decided to join an opposition party.

Their reactions, and those of our friends, were illuminative. The elder ones were mostly apprehensive on our behalf. Concerns were expressed over our financial state of affairs, suggestions on parking funds overseas or setting up trust funds, and the like. The younger ones - some were gleeful and gestured " go go go!", while some were not interested/felt we were doing something futile. A closet opposition supporter (i.e. been voting opposition all along but kept it a secret) revealed herself to us, and said that she would never have told us if not because of our joining the opposition camp. In fact, she said that when told my husband decided to join a political party, she had initially assumed he joined PAP, on account of our being former govt scholars. Upon clearing her misunderstanding, she was absolutely delighted and proceeded to shower us with approval and warmth. : ) I am not sure if it made any difference to my husband, but for me, I must say that was quite a boost to my morale.

Having step on this path for only a few months, I have realised it is a very lonely game. The climate of fear has never been so starkly felt, and I found myself trapped in it far deeper than I had realised. I find myself thinking twice about contacting friends or former colleagues who are working in the civil service, stat boards or other govt related organisations. Would they still welcome my company? Would they worry about being implicated? While the rational part of me wants to reject such undue worries, I can't seem to prevent myself from getting more sensitive. But paradoxically, this realisation further strengthened my resolve on choosing this path. Such an unhealthy climate is not one I wish for my children.

My elder son was delighted with the wedding, because they gave him a HUGE lollipop. It was the biggest lollipop I have ever seen. I was told it came from my cousin's friend's shop - called Sticky, I think. It was a great idea. My son has never been so well-behaved at a wedding. He usually gets bored after a very short while and will start to wreak havoc and keep me very busy. Last night he sat docilely in his seat, licking and crunching his lollipop, occasionally requesting me to clean his sticky face and fingers. Ahh, what bliss! All weddings should dish out lollipops to little boys. Long live Sticky and may you have great business!

At the wedding, a video of my cousin's proposal was shown. It was a BIG proposal. A boat decked out with a colourful banner bearing the words "Will you marry me?" floated down the Singapore river towards an unsuspecting bride-to-be , sprouting pink and white balloons. I never thought my cousin is so romantic and demonstrative! Judging from the girl's response, she had no idea this was gonna hit her. While as a spectator, I found it very sweet and romantic, frankly, if I had been at the receiving end of that proposal, I would probably have been flabbergasted at the sudden public display, not having been mentally prepared. Guys who are planning a grand proposal should bear in mind that his beloved might appreciate some advance notice to prepare herself. Surprises sometimes end up surprising the surpriser. Drop hints liberally. Anticipation is so much sweeter, really.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Should we have minimum wage?

I have some reservations about the minimum wage. Quite apart from the controversy over whether minimum wage reduces jobs, I am also concerned about the impact on the 2nd tier of the lowest income earners. The way I see it is this: If we implement minimum wage, those currently earning below the minimum wage would benefit from this, but as wages increase, cost of goods and services increase. As this affects those earning minimum wages, it is probably the cheaper goods and services that are affected more than the luxury goods/services, so the people feeling the most impact from rising cost would be those earning just above the minimum wage. This group does not benefit from the minimum wage, but will now have to pay more for goods and services – resulting in a decline in living standards. It seemed like shifting the burden from the lowest 10-15% say, to the next lowest 10-15%. Which really is not a solution at all.

Comparatively, the workfare scheme would seem a better option. It avoided the potential problem of distorting market mechanism and causing a possible drop in number of jobs, while topping up the income of the lowest wage earners. However, the debate here would be over details. What should be the income level below which the workfare scheme kicks in? How much should the wage supplement be at each wage level? The current amount reflects the current government's long standing position towards free lunches -- very conservative. So conservative, that not much effect is felt and hence we still hear occasional clamours for minimum wage. I personlly think it would be better to fight for higher amounts in the workfare scheme than implementing the minimum wage scheme.

That said, it does not address the problems faced by those earning above minimum wage levels, but are either losing their jobs to foreigners or getting lower wages than they used to before the influx of foreigners. But that will be the subject of a separate post.
ST Article 20 Oct 2009:
MM Lee: Social Divide Inevitable

When there is a will there is a way.

It is inevitable that as a country becomes more developed and educated, its population will want greater freedom of speech and expression, more political choices, checks and balance against concentration of power, personal liberties, etc etc.

What are the ways? GRC. ISA. Films Act. Media control. Lawsuits.

It is inevitable that people would want to go for higher paying jobs. What are the ways? Peg ministerial salaries to highest earners in the country.

Ingenuity abounds. When there is a will there is a way. Is there a will?