Labour Day  is a day for many to rest from labour (as opposed to having to labour on Labour Day). However, due to the recent rise in fuel and food prices, people in countries where poverty is still prevalent demonstrated on the streets asking their government to do something about the situation there.

In Singapore, we have a Uniquely Singapore situation. There was no demonstration. Only a quiet registration for people to sign a petition for the government to demand something to be done about the rise in living costs.

This is despite the citizens being given a hundred to a couple of hundreds of dollars as part of the GST offset plan that the government has proposed last year. In addition, the government has also suggested to the people that they should change to cheaper versions of food or consumables in order to offset the pinch of the inflation. Some examples given were the use of frozen meat instead of fresh meat, cheaper forms of oil and vegetable and eating more at home instead of dining out.

A SINGAPOREAN opposition politician and a group of his supporters held a May Day demonstration on Thursday against rising living costs in the city-state, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

Singapore politician Chee Soon Juan and seven supporters, wearing red T-shirts emblazoned with the Malay words ‘Tak Boleh Tahan!’ – which means ‘Cannot Take It!’ – handed leaflets to the public in a working class district.

They also urged the public to sign a petition against rising living costs.

‘We are going to be stationed here for most of the day, and the entire purpose is to raise awareness that the people have the right to demand that the government do something about the rise in cost of living,’ Mr Chee said.

Mr Jason Ong, who works in the food and beverage industry, was among some 15 people who put his signature to the petition, saying he was struggling under the strain of higher living costs.

‘I signed the petition because I am a member of the working class and I am trying to make ends meet and these people are trying to help us,’ said Mr Ong.

Mr Chee is the secretary general of the Singapore Democratic Party, one of a handful of opposition parties in the city-state, which has been ruled by the People’s Action Party since 1959.

He has in the past staged various campaigns on May Day to fight for working class Singaporeans and has pressed for more civil rights on other occasions.

Last year, he and his sister Ms Chee Siok Chin completed a 55-hour walk across the island to highlight the plight of struggling Singapore workers on meagre wages. — AFP

Article otained from straitstimes.com on 2nd May 2008 dated 1st May 2008



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