I was thinking aloud about what our Singapore leaders have said when it hit me. It's quite baffling actually.
Here I have SM Lee justifying the obsence salaries of ministers. To drive home the point, he said a very controversial statement (more like fear mongering):
"You know, the cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you'll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again... and your asset values will disappear, your apartment will be worth a fraction of what it is, your jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries, foreign workers." - (Straits Times, 5 April 2007
Then I have PM Lee saying this recently on 8 Jan 09 at the AARP-Council: Reinventing Retirement Asia. Quote here:
"Sometimes, it is family attitudes that need to change. Let me share an example: The hotel industry needs attendants to clean rooms and change the bed linen. Older women can do such work well, and hotels are also keen to hire them. However, hotels have told us that these women tend to drop out from the training programmes, often under pressure from their children who do not want their parents to work as room attendants. So, the hotels have to hire foreign workers to fill the vacancies.
This is a delicate matter of face and status. The job of hotel attendant may be a humble one, but it is honourable employment, and if one can do it conscientiously and competently, there is no reason for the family to feel ashamed, or for society to look down on attendants or their families. We should not discourage anyone from taking on such jobs. To do so would limit his options to be active, engaged and to earn an income."
Being a maid is a shameful thing. But working as a chambermaid is not. Huh?
To bring fear, you give me a glimpse of what happens if we have a bad government. Now with recession, you encourage my grandmas, aunties and perhaps even mother to work as chambermaids.
Maybe it's because the government can no longer feed them. Or perhaps the wonderful retirement plan (ie CPF) is a ticking bomb waiting to blow up in our faces.
So this scenario begs the questions:
Am I paying millions for a bad dose of government already? If yes, why am I still paying?
Aren't the women in Singapore working as chambermaids akin to being maids in foreign countries? Is there really a difference then?
Of course, a chambermaid does not look after your kids or stay with you. But both are earning an income decently. Both pack up after the occupants leave the place.
So there aren't many differences, don't you agree?
Let's move further on the 'maid in foreign country' topic to prove my point.
What happens if a foreign country is willing to pay you a higher salary to be a chambermaid for their hotel? Are you considered a talent, or just a maid working in a foreign country?
You see the line blurs significantly. But with these contradicting statements and controversial claims from my million-dollar ministers, it's just black and white to justify their policies. One day black, the next day white.
No wonder PM Lee had mentioned that not many could understand and grasp the policies. I reckon only those bordering on mental insanity might still have a faint hope.
Then what is so different between working as a chambermaid and a maid in a foreign country?
The answer is basically nothing. Wherever pays more.
My advice to these million-dollars minister confusing me is perhaps Singapore can no longer pay your salaries. Perhaps you should move to where you will be paid higher.
And be the first Singaporean minister working in a foreign country.