It is just unfortunate that the situation with the SMRT strike has gotten this way, but again this is Singapore and it is not unexpected.
The funny thing about our media is that, all of a suddenly, they decided to call it a strike. When this incident was initially report in the English media, it was reported as an absentee or sit-in or something else like that, anything but a strike. But now that action is taken and everyone else is calling it a strike, they make every effort to make sure that people know that this is an strike, albeit and illegal one.
But is there such thing as a legal strike in Singapore? The way our media called it an illegal strike is as if Singapore law allows for any form of legal strike at all. Is there as such thing as a legal protest in Singapore? Hmm… perhaps there is such a thing as legal protest as long as it organised by the government or quasi-government organisation.
There were many calls from Singaporeans that they should be punished for breaking Singapore’s law, which obviously does not make any form of strike legal. The question Singaporeans fail to ask is whether such laws are justifiable in the first place and do they even prevent Singapore from progressing to a better and more well-balanced society? Just because its in our penal code, it doesn’t mean that it is fair nor justified. This is not different from someone calling for gay men to be arrested and jailed because they are breaking Singapore’s 377A penal code. 377A is the law and everyone living in Singapore should abide by it, they cannot cry foul for being arrested because they are breaking Singapore’s law and have to be punished. Now… does that sound reasonable? Of course, I am not comparing gay sex with a strike, I am just trying to illustrate the point that just because some is the law, doesn’t make it a good law.
Personally, I don’t feel that we should have laws that make all form of strikes illegal. Strikes can be civil and don’t necessary have to end up in bloodshed. That is the reason why I cannot even think of asking for them to be punished, the problem are the managers, and not the workers in the first place. This is another sad case of bad management and decision making gone wrong, workers do not feel that they have any means of recourse and the only way to be heard is to do something drastic. And in most cases like this, the workers are the ones who suffered, since the managers are still collecting their fat pay checks.
I believe that all workers in the same role should be paid equally based on their performance, not nationality. Why does it take a strike for the CEO to suddenly know how to run the company? What has he been doing all these time in the SMRT? Smoking pot? Further more, Ministry of Manpower have to tell SMRT that the worker’s living quarter is below par, what the heck have those managers in SMRT been doing all these while? Do they really need another Ministry to tell them that they did a sub-par job?
In the meantime, Today reported that:
SMRT CEO Desmond Kuek visited the Serangoon dormitory today to inspect bus drivers’ living conditions. He also listened to the concerns of some of the drivers following this week’s strike.
If I were the CEO, I would have fired the HR manager. The CEO is doing the job that the HR manager, who should have been preventing such incidents in the first palce; now the CEO have to wayang to go to the worker’s quarter to pretend to be concerned. I am sure the CEO was very concerned that they had been paying the Chinese workers much less than their Malaysian counterparts!