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Is there a market for wet markets? Workfare for stall owners? Dilemma of the PAP

Is there a market for wet market? Yes, may be in Hougang as suggested by Desmond Choo as part of his by-election campaign strategy to win votes. Indeed, he got an extra 145 votes and perhaps these additional votes are from the old and senior citizens of the zone that wet market is offered (and to be built?) in Hougang.

No wonder the PAP called the by-election a local election.  They first closed down the wet market for political reason and then they proposed a new wet market for political reason.  This is the dilemma of the PAP.  They first made people angry and then tried to please the people but people got even more angry, either way they played with public money thinking that they have nothing to lose, at least in their own pocket.

This can never go on forever. The more they are repeating and playing things like this will make the PAP lose more voters in future. This also shows how short-sighted the PAP is.  We talk about national challenge of wet markets and they concentrate on local issue.   

The bigger picture and national issue in Singapore is there is a growing concern of the future and survival of wet markets. There are more callings to convert the wet markets to cooked food centres as the business for stall owners in wet markets is declining.  And even with the subsidized and low rental, stall owners still cannot meet their end needs and earn a proper living. Hence, they request to turn their fresh food stalls into cooked food stalls.    

Dilemma in our economy

This is the state of local businessmen, self-employed persons and small traders.  Our economy has come to a stage that there are less and less opportunities for local people, especially those in small and traditional businesses.   

The offer of wet market by Desmond in fact is against the PAP’s pragmatic way of money politics. Years ago, the government even considered privatising Fajar wet market and now they make a sudden turn of offering wet market in Hougang. In economic term, can the wet market survive? If not, it is just an election sweeter. Or, in some ways it is a political cheating!   Gone are the days when the PAP would say ‘even the policy is not welcome they will still do it as they think it is good for the country.’ 

The increasing cost of operation in Singapore and the shift in marketing (consumption) pattern have resulted to the closures of many traditional businesses.  Earnings or incomes for wet market stall owners, like many small businesses, are in fact dropping and declining, a situation similar to low wage workers.  These people are unlikely to meet their CPF minimum sum requirements when they retire.

Wet market stall owners do not have economies of scale, their selling prices are even higher than those in supermarkets, and their environment too is less comfortable, naturally, they face competition and a challenging future. 

This is why we should not be surprised by <
Market stall in Ang Mo Kio receives S$1 bid.>

When NEA calls for second tender with the hope to increase the rental to above $1, they have to realise the market for wet market is not in their favour.  Stall owners have already suffered from bad business. Any increase in rental will reduce their income and how can they meet their end needs?

Workfare for self-employed persons

Unless the government treat them like low wage workers and stall owners are allowed to receive workfare supplement income.  Self-employed stall owners do make contributions to our society and if we recognise low wage workers and ‘to ensure that low-wage workers have a share in economic growth’, we should also extend workfare benefits to stall owners. It is also a way to keep self-employed people in employment, in the work force.

How can we make wet markets sustainable?  The government can only subsidize rental, but not other costs.  And stall owners need to have basic income for a living. Low wage workers now can have $50 increase under the NWC recommendation but stall owners have nothing.

Stall owners like low wage workers have suffered income stagnation for the past 10 years. We should look at the low income families as a whole, not to solve problems part by part; low income self-employed persons should have the same attention as the low wage workers.

Certainly, stall owners cannot get (and afford) to employ foreign workers like NTUC and other supermarkets.  Supermarkets can increase their productivity with modern technology and young workers, but stall owners – who is going to help them if not government? 

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有识之士拒绝发声,新加坡何去何从?

新加坡的精英、有识之士、知识分子、中产阶级拒绝对国家的发展做出积极的评论,分享,分析他们对国家前途的看法。这种情形在李显龙出任总理后,每况愈下,越来越严重,已经成为新加坡目前面对的最大挑战,国家继续前进的绊脚石。
最近,李显龙和他的一群高级顾问,不约而同的呼吁有识之士出来,提供意见,对国家各方面建设,提供不同版本的建议。
李显龙说,他尝试不让身边只有只说“对”的人。如果,整天被唯命是从的人围着,那将是一种灾难。言外之意,就是说领袖必须接受批评,承认错误。#1

李显龙的高级顾问更进一步。他们说新加坡需要说“不对”的人。他们要更多不同的意见,反对的声音,甚至悲观的声音。他们认为新加坡需要更多(公务员)人出来挑战当局。最重要的,他们认为有识之士对政策的发声,能够让新加坡未来50年更加美好。



这种呼吁,呼应要求有识之士出来发声,提供反对意见似乎是一种哀求。有识之士的反对意见有助国家未来更加美好?为何立国以来,从来就没有如此哀求过?可见,事情已经失控,有识之士已经意兴阑珊,提不起兴趣。他们翻看历史,提供反对意见的人,尤其是反对党的有识之士,下场如何?
【不出声的历史背景】
有识之士不提供意见,不改进、不改良政府的政策,不是行动党政府一直以来的国策吗?为何现在,李显龙和高级顾问,接二连三如此低声下气哀求有识之士发声呢?难怪,有识之士并不相信行动党的诚意,前车之鉴,他们害怕步上前人的后尘。
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原本以为2011年大选,新加坡选民开始觉醒,明白手中选票的重要性。新加坡人愿意接受不同的声音,但是2015年的大选,却似乎极为容易被行动党的民粹所误导。有识之士看在眼里,能够不意兴阑珊吗?不仅有识之士意兴阑珊,连一些反对党人士,也意兴阑珊起来。
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这是行动党的困境,新加坡的悲哀。
新加坡的有识之士,怎么有可能出现儒家的所谓的”以天下为己任…

接管市镇理事会的政治考量、政治代价?

人民行动党政府已经做好司法程序,可以在模棱两可‘莫须有’的理由下,接管市镇理事会。国会已经通过市镇理事会修正案,一旦市镇理事会的管理出现所谓的状况,国家发展部长便可以顺理成章的、名而言顺的把民选市镇理事会的管理工作接管过来。
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新加坡人又能说些什么?又敢做些什么?就像陈清木昨天的记者会,他除了对总统选举制度的变更表示不满外,他还能说什么?就是这么简单,轻描淡写的回答:
行动党和李显龙总理,就是看准了,看透了新加坡人的心理,表明这是司法程序,在法庭、在法律上,行动党政府都不会被打败。那些敢于挑战法律的人,在新加坡的短短50多年的建国历史中,下场都是以悲剧结束。最近的一个例子, 就是新加坡最年轻的政治犯余澎杉在美国的遭遇。同样一个人,不同的国情,命运也不一样。
行动党已经做好接管的准备。现在,只是考虑政治上的得失和评估政治代价。当然,也会考虑时间点,什么时候切入最适合、最划算、最能够获得最多的选票。
【下届大选的变数】
今年的总统选举,基本上已经是没戏看了。大家大约都可以估算到结局。反而是三、四年后的大选,存在变数。 行动党也了解,要重获2015大选的佳绩,在没有造神运动的条件下,似乎是不可能。因此,要维持一个高得票率,就必须出一些怪招。把非选区议员人数增加到12位,就是给人民一个小甜头。如果真的上当,新加坡就清一色没有非行动党的市镇理事会了。
没有工人党的市镇会,这个机会似乎不高。因此,最好能够把工人党困在阿裕尼和后港。而通过合法接管,又通过媒体,社交媒体,一系列的‘转型正义’活动,说不定死马当活马医,动摇阿裕尼选民的心,从接管变成收复,那就是美事一桩。
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李显龙的幻象:新加坡人对他的 dishonorable 行为无动于衷。

李显龙的焦虑,最近特别的明显。焦虑后的行动决策,如,总统选举,李光耀孙子李绳武事件,议长人选,都显示他的幻象。他认为,新加坡人对他的所作所为,无动于衷。国人心里虽然不满,但是,在高压和照顾既得利益者的背景下,新加坡依然可以保持稳定,经济继续成长,政治上没有改变。
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新加坡人真的如李显龙幻象中的,无动于衷吗?原本上个星期六,在演说者角落,有一场抗议总统选举的活动,由于当局的种种限制,最后不得不叫停,从室外的公开活动,改成日后的室内活动。这不也是李显龙的焦虑吗?
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