No English? No Problem!

Monday, June 13, 2005

I switch on computer, as usual.

I open Firefox, as usual.

I go to gmail, as usual.

I open my account, and see...... 12 new comments on my blog.

NOT as usual!

So apparently, my post on the 2 homeless siblings got tomorrow-ed, and a whole bunch of people went to my site as usual. (^^!) What was more unusual in this case was the number of comments this post generated. [Usually people just read, and then promptly forget it the next day, I think :p]

[People just love to rant about the gahmen in Singapore. Tip for making blog famous: Write potentially incendiary rant about gahmen in Singapore and then tip off a few websites about your blog. Warning: May result in lawsuits if post is TOO fiery. :p]

Some of the comments, and my thoughts on them:

- Jesse wrote:

"What about the thousands who are able and going for job interviews week in week out, and eventually forced to look for/settle on jobs paying far less because of cheaper foreign alternatives."..."A voice should be put first and foremost to this group of people. The perk of certain governments is to place an onus on MNCs and local companies to provide a decent wage as well as job security."..."Usually what is allowed to happen in sg are rampant job cuts and then re-employing when the economy picks up. Why should employees pay for the sins of bad management and capitalism?"

Hm. This left me a little uncomfortable, frankly. My view is that cheaper labour arises as a result of market differences. Labour in China IS cheaper that labour from US because of differences in their labour markets. [size being the most obvious factor, and obviously, I speak of workers with the same skill level, for eg, construction workers in China and US]

And from a purely economic point of view, if you can get the same amount of labour for a cheaper price, you should, in order to lower costs all around for the end consumer. If you can get groceries at Johor for a much cheaper price than in Singapore, why not go to Johor? (^^!) Malaysia has a comparative advantage in providing cheaper consumer goods than Singapore. Hence Singaporeans will flock to Malaysia to buy their groceries.

And of course, when I put it that way, economics becomes much more palatable to the average consumer, but when put in terms of jobs, everyone gets protective. (^^!) Though I understand the rationale behind it, I feel, you can't really have your cake and eat it too.

And also, for the government to "place the onus on MNCs and local companies to provide a decent wage as well as job security" actually smacks of some protectionism to me. Which in the end is never good for any economy in the long run.

Karpace has written a blog entry in response to mine, at his blog. His main stand is that we have a right to demand more from the gahmen, given all the taxes that we give to them. [you really have to read the full thing to get an idea though]

And my stand is: So why aren't we doing more? We write to the newspapers, we rant on websites like Sintercom and Tomorrow, and we rant to our kakis at the kopitiam over cups of teh. But these are not constructive actions. These are not going to get us positive results, other than a momentary publicity on the Internet.

If we really feel that we deserve more from the gahmen, then why aren't we demanding it from them? Why aren't we doing more than we are currently doing right now?

Maybe in a sense, we are actually too comfortable with the situation to want it to change. It's like, you live in a flat, and the roof drips when it rains. It irritates you at first, but then, decent housing at this price is hard to find, and so you continue staying in that flat and just remember to take out the buckets everytime it starts to pour.

Maybe we just got used to the dripping.

- Then comes this interesting little exchange:

At 7:11 PM, June 12, 2005, jseng said...And after a while, it's enough to make you gasp in exasperation and make you wonder why no one ever says something like "We should come together, and do something about this." "We should write a petition" "We should organize some rallys"Got. that's why we took things into our own hands and started

And some Anonymous Someone replied with:

Wow. Mr Seng, so are you admitting that wanting and acting to do something about how life is supposedly hard in Singapore, instead of just whining and ranting is a reason why was started? Isn't that what the article is really about? I wasn't under the impression that Tomorrow wrote petitions, organised rallies or engaged in pro-active civil activism or reform in this country to improve your own lives. I thought it was just a meta- blog without an agenda. What are you trying to say? I try not to take you too seriously all the time, but this latest blurb of seng-ism is hard to ignore. Go ahead and make a joke of this.

And then jseng replied:

Yo Mr Anonymous. You have to try harder to troll me haha. I am pretty much immune to all these sort o Sorry bringing the troll here at your site.

And Anonymous said:

I ask you a legitimate question and you accuse me of trolling. What more can I say? Have a good day, James.

And I think: Am I missing something here? Er, if you got something against someone, or, can you please do it somewhere else? It's kinda beside the point in this blog, and for this topic.

Seriously. Sheesh.

Adinahaes had a more compassionate view:

"heyjust wanted to say that not all poor/destitute people are like that pair of siblings. For every one person like that, there will be others out there who are genuinely in a fix. I have friends who are social workers and they've met families in dire need of cash but who had their water/electricity cut off because PUB refused to grant them a grace period.Some of them did not even have the money to take a bus to find a job.There will always be people looking for a handout, but lets not lump them together with the truly unfortunate."

Agreed. For the record, my post was more about those who couldn't help themselves, rather than those who truly were in a fix over external circumstances. Some lines from the post:

"for some people, I don't really know whether they deserve the help or not. Because from what I see, they aren't doing enough to help themselves."

"If you had lost everything you had due to some external circumstances, say tsunami, or economic crisis, I'm inclined to give you my pity. It's not entirely your fault this happened to you, and I can see why you might need that leg up.

But the extra leg up is just that, an extra leg up. It's not something to support you forever, like a chair. It's meant to give you that one boost so that you can start climbing out of this shithole on your own."

I feel sorry for people who are in such destitute states. I don't believe that anyone should have to live like that. But if I help you, it's with the intention of helping you stand on your own two feet.

Let's use another analogy here. If one of my tuition students was weak in Maths, from a natural inability to comprehend numbers, then I understand that you need the additional help from outside, since you will not be able to pass Maths on your own.

But I will NOT do your homework for you all year around. The purpose of my tuition lesson is to enable you to be able to eventually pass Maths on your own. And this is what you should gain out of my lesson.

My post targets those people who expect help to be given to them all the time, because of their circumstances. My opinion is: You cannot expect to rely on people's goodwill forever. Better learn to take care of yourself.

Anyway, from Sunday's papers, I read that the Wongs have moved back into their flat, and will be moving into the 2nd flat after selling this one off to HDB. Hopefully, they will be able to make something of their lives after that.

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