As Singapore chairs ASEAN and the landmark ASEAN charter to be signed November 2007 here, will the economic integration touch the lives of every Singaporean?
A city of possibilities
that leaves no one behind
As Singapore celebrates her 42nd birthday, Think Centre (TC)commiserates and celebrates with fellow countrymen in our city of possibilities. Our domestic economy is booming, the regional economy is growing, but are all Singaporeans benefiting?
As Singapore chairs ASEAN and the landmark ASEAN charter to be signed November 2007 here, will the economic integration touch the lives of every Singaporean? How will Singapore contribute and more importantly reap the dividends of a caring and sharing ASEAN community?
Will there be equal employment opportunities for all and fair remuneration for locals and foreign workers? Will we see a drop in non-discrimination employment practices in industries?
With employers increasingly prefering foreign workers to locals in the labour-intensive sectors (eg construction, cleaning services), where do our displaced locals re-deployed to? With the cost of living going up via GST 7%, increase in transporation fares, hike in education fees, can this displaced class of locals catch up, much less cash in this city of possibilities?
Human Rights Challenges
Singapore faces a basic challenge in the recognition of human rights, as certain policies and practices remained discriminatory, especially towards women.
The definition of discrimination prohibits, direct and indirect, discrimination within the power structure between men and women. The power structure in Singapore is discriminatory, and measures are needed so that women could achieve equality in real terms.
There are no enforcement mechanisms for equal pay provisions. The 160,000 foreign domestic workers, majority are from ASEAN countries like Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar, are excluded from the protection of the labour law.
On this 42nd celebration of our nationhood, Think Centre appeals to the government for the following:
1. incorporate human rights education in schools to inculcate awareness and respect of social justice, equality, fairness, and human dignity
2. promote public understanding and recognition on the needs of all peoples for decent job, decent working and living conditions, fair and just distribution of wealth among Singaporeans
3. made provisions for minimum wage for all low-salaried workers to provide for their basic needs and decent living conditions in Singapore
4. improve working conditions and living standards of migrant workers in respect of the rights of migrants workers, and all relevant ILO Conventions
5. work with all ASEAN Countries on the protection and promotion of the rights of the migrant workers
6. work with ASEAN countries on the promotion and protection of human rights.
7. support the formation of a regional human rights commission and form the national human rights commision in Singapore. ASEAN Charter to be signed in November recommends such a regional human rights body.
As chair of ASEAN and convenor of the historic Charter, Singapore is more than a city of possibilities - it must be a leader in human rights development, starting from where we call our home.
Sources and Relevant Links:
Think Centre Think Centre: Labour Day Message 2007
Think Centre Is Singapore an inclusive society
Think Centre Think Centre National Day Message 2006