Jobs and productivity discussed in WP's second online rally
Singapore has benefited from globalisation and free trade, but there is also now more insecurity at the individual level, said Workers' Party (WP) chair Sylvia Lim yesterday.
"There is no iron rice bowl today. For instance, we have over 210,000 gig economy freelance workers now," said Ms Lim in pre-recorded remarks for the WP's second Hammer Show.
"The Workers' Party supports economic growth that is broad-based and inclusive. Our candidates have ideas and relevant experience to add to this discussion."
The panel of candidates in the online rally, which focused on the party's economic proposals, included lawyer He Tingru, technology entrepreneur Gerald Giam, economist Jamus Lim and entrepreneur Yee Jenn Jong.
Mr Leon Perera, who is chief executive of a consulting firm, moderated.
Associate Professor Jamus Lim said the Covid-19 crisis has not only caused disruptions to the economy, it has also accelerated existing trends like the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, as well as de-globalisation, rising inequality, and rising populism and nationalist sentiment.
He added that the model of bringing in low-wage foreign workers and high-skilled foreign talent is one that no longer works in terms of raising productivity.
Ms He agreed, noting that Singapore cannot always assume there will be lower-wage workers that it can import from other countries to make up for labour shortfalls arising from demographic changes.
She also talked about the need to invest more in green technologies and tackle climate change, as well as reduce Singapore's reliance on traditional energy sources like oil and gas in favour of renewables.
Mr Yee said that successive generations of PAP leaders have adopted a "grow at all cost" mentality to capture gross domestic product in a "quick but lazy way".
Mr Giam said there is a need to look at low-productivity sectors like construction.
He noted that many firms found automating expensive, and the Government should consider loans to allow the purchase of equipment. He also suggested bringing more locals into the construction sector.