1) freeze the country’s highest salaries for three years;
2) raise salaries of workers earning less than $1,500 by 50 per cent over three years
While silence has been maintained on the call for wage freeze for the fat cats, a $200 pay rise for full-time cleaners has been announced. Ignoring for a moment the politicisation of the recommended hike - applicable only to cleaners at all 15 People's Action Party run town councils - the low wage earners are finally getting a respite. Half a loaf is better than no bread, so goes the saying.
Then Teo Ho Pin, coordinating chairman for PAP's town councils, had to blow the whistle on their "generosity": "At some point , we need to revise service and conservancy (S&C) charges." The wage hike was not a consequence of enhanced productivity, residents have to pay first before expecting to see any improvement in the maintenance of their wards.
The modus operandi is also obvious in the proposed overhaul of the of the bus industry, which is basically a duopoly of SMRT and SBS Transit. SMRT chief Lt Col Desmond Kuek described the new contracts model as "more sustainable" than the current structure, in which operators have to meet service stands and "face a cap on fares". If Kuek had ridden the trains or buses anywhere as long as us commuters, he would have remembered that "cap" has been raised countless times. Buried in the blurb about the workings of the new model is this line: "Public transport fares have not been adjusted in the last two years." Nowhere is it mentioned, nor do we recall, that public transport service has improved over the last two years. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, hike first, work on improvement later.
The exposé on the real intention of the overhaul? SBS Transit's ringing endorsement of the proposed exercise: "As an operator, you are generally assured of a certain rate of return instead of being exposed to revenue risk." That assurance of profitability will surely come from ripping off the hapless commuters. Always have been, always will be.