Sunday, February 14, 2010

Upping productivity in S'pore is absurd

I find the latest obsession with raising efficiency in Singapore as a "new economic strategy" rather absurd.

Productivity is such an elusive concept, and can be used as an excuse to shed more labour in place of machinery (to "increase productivity"), or make people work longer hours (not shorter) because the spreadsheets need to show that the department can now do 5 projects in one month instead of just 3 in the previous month.

In the end the segment of society that will lose out most are (as usual) the working class, blue collared, less skilled workers (and now increasingly the middle class skilled workers too) because they've been made redundant by machines and technology. But that's the whole point, because the government says it wants to make Singapore a service and financial hub, right?

The government also says they have a solution for that, which is more training and reskilling. Hmmm...That'll work just perfectly because a machine operator can totally be "reskilled" to be a service personnel or financial adviser. And by the way, you will be paid as poorly as before, if not worse, cos you'll have to work longer hours, and you don't really have the relevant working experience. But you'll have a nicer title and get to work in an air-conditioned room.

This productivity solution to Singapore's lack of competitiveness is a clear sign of the lack of innovation in policy thinking and an obsession with micromanaging the citizenry.

Now for my second gripe - the media.

I find it even more disgraceful that the papers went on for over a week, wasting page space singing the same government tune and reproducing the party line without giving alternative perspectives or any form of questioning whether this is what Singapore really needs.

It's not about criticising for the sake of criticism, but showing both sides of the coin like any good journalist would do. Where was the counter argument to this whole policy in the one and a half weeks of coverage? Who are the potential losers in this kind of policy and what do they have to say about it? What do the sociologists and political scientists have to say about it?

If the straits times wants to stop being seen as a government newsletter then it needs to stop acting like one. Or maybe that's just how it wants to be...

1 comment:

Carol Soon said...

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Carol Soon
(Emails: and