Egalitarianism. It's a big word. But it's also an important one.
It is the key word in the SDP's economic programme for Singapore which we will be launching this week through a series of posts on this website. We will put forward an alternative economic model that is fundamentally different from that practiced by the PAP.
It is a programme that, as mentioned, emphasizes on egalitarianism, a philosophical concept that promotes equality and equal opportunity.
Above all, it is an alternative that is both realistic and workable for our economy.
Why is it even important to mention this? Because for too long Singaporeans have believed that all the brains and talent in Singapore have been vacuumed up by the PAP, leaving only the mediocre and insipid to the opposition parties.
Which is also to say that it is a veritable lie that there can be no viable alternative to the current system.
After all the years of propaganda by the media, Singaporeans have been led to believe that anything else other than PAP's policies is rubbish and written for its own sake.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There have been many policies proposed by the SDP that the PAP has used and called them its own.
For example, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last week that: "Our own population is growing slowly, and we cannot indefinitely expand our workforce by importing more and more workers from abroad. We have to extract maximum value from the resources that we have; every piece of land must be put to optimum use, activities which are no longer competitive or productive have to be gradually phased out."
A full 5 years ago, however, Dr Chee Soon Juan wrote in his book A Nation Cheated: "Singapore’s labour productivity...is notoriously mediocre." He went on to cite the influx of foreign workers which "expeditiously and artificially inflate[d] GDP figures." This, he added, was problematic especially in the absence of "a concomitant increase in labour productivity."
Lately, economists have echoed what Dr Chee has been saying all these years. In 2009, Citigroup economist Kit Wei Zheng pointed out that Singapore's rapid growth has, over the recent past, been mostly driven by a massive increase in the workforce and warned that it is clear that "growth powered by importing foreign labour is simply not sustainable."
This is also true for another of the SDP's proposals - Minimum Wage. The Singapore Democrats campaigned on this issue as early as the 2001 general elections. Shortly thereafter, economist and NTU vice-dean Professor Hui Weng Tat repeated the call for the introduction of Minimum Wage.
The problem with the SDP's economic ideas is that Singaporeans are not hearing or reading about them because of the media's censorship of our news. Hopefully, however, this will change with the growth of the internet.
Singaporeans must break out of the mindset that only the PAP has the ideas that work for Singapore. We must believe that opposition parties like the SDP have solutions and alternative programmes that are not just workable for Singapore but crucial for our future economic well-being - solutions that, as we have stated, even the PAP has adopted.
This coming collection of articles on the economy and the alternatives that we will be putting forth will demonstrate once and for all that the PAP does not have a monopoly of ideas for Singapore, including economic ones.
Let it never again be said that the opposition only knows how to complain and throw stones at the PAP without coming up with proposals to better Singapore. With this claim, the Singapore Democrats firmly establish our credentials as a party that not only boldly speaks up for Singaporeans, but also a constructive one.