I was chatting with a friend of mine when suddenly, the topic turned to life in Singapore. Granted, we’re in a clean and green city, where everything works like clockwork, the Polyclinic is available, the buses and trains are running. It’s a comfortable environment to live in.
The only gripe? The high costs of living.
My friend had an interesting economic concept, albeit a little protectionist. Before you close this window, hear me out.
His proposal centred on keeping jobs for Singaporeans. As we know, companies would much rather hire a Malaysian or Indonesian and pay lower wages than to hire a Singaporean. Why pay $2500 when you can pay $1500, right? However, he says that this has driven many Singaporeans up the wall. Many Singaporeans can’t find good jobs as a result.
So I explained to him that it’s difficult for business owners as well. And I threw the question at him – if he were a business owner, would he hire 10 Malaysians, or 3 Singaporeans?
He said he would hire 3 Singaporeans.
And he went on to explain that companies like Capitaland can play a part. When charging rental, they can absorb the $1000 wage difference. For instance, if John, a shop owner, rents a shop from Capitaland and hires a Malaysian to man his shop, he has to pay $5000 in rental and $1500 in wages.
But if John rents a shop from Capitaland and hires a Singaporean to man his shop, he can pay $4000 in rental and $2500 in wages.
My friend says that such a scheme gives everybody a chance to find a decent job, without risk of regional competition at the worker level. And it also doesn’t demean important jobs like frontline staff and shop assistants.
At this point I concurred with him. Companies like Capitaland will be able to afford these concessions. At the end of the day, it boils down to greed.
I rather think my friend’s suggestion is a good idea. What do you think?