Ruling party promotes younger members, conducts election post-mortem . . .
Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) elected its 36th Central Executive Committee on Sunday, following the country’s historic July election that saw the highest percentage of opposition MPs elected since independence. Prime Minister and PAP General Secretary Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged that “Singaporeans want other things” beyond mere “bread-and-butter issues,” including action on inequality and social justice. Lawrence Wong and Desmond Lee, two young ministers respectively in charge of the country’s COVID-19 public health response and economic recovery, were elected to the top body for the first time, suggesting a desire for younger voices at the party’s helm.
Debating income inequality and minimum wage . . .
Two key issues that dominated the July elections continue to make headlines in Singapore. The debate over income inequality gained new relevance after it was revealed on November 3 that some 52,000 employed Singaporeans, or roughly 2.3 per cent of the resident employed population, earn less than C$1,250 per month inclusive of subsidies and welfare payments. The opposition Workers Party (WP) continues to campaign on a C$1,250/month minimum wage regardless of industry, on top of the existing Progressive Wage Model (PWM). PAP has argued, however, that the PWM system of raising wages through skills-upgrading increases productivity and benefits businesses as well as low-wage workers. Though no official poverty line exists in Singapore, studies have estimated an absolute poverty threshold of C$1,810/month for a household of four.
Criminal justice system questioned in migrant domestic worker cases . . .
Meanwhile, Minister of Law K. Shanmugam has defended the Singaporean criminal justice system after two high-profile acquittals generated controversy. The case of Parti Liyani, an Indonesian migrant domestic worker charged with stealing from her former employer, inspired a WP motion to “review the justice system” and calls to expand access to legal representation for migrants. Parti’s case was acquitted on appeal. The judge noted police and prosecutors mishandled evidence and failed to acknowledge improper motivations in the allegations made by Parti’s employer, the politically well-connected Liew family. Minister Shanmugam insisted there was “no undue influence” in Parti’s case and brought up new evidence not presented during trial that he claimed “prima facie raise skepticism” for Parti’s innocence. Another migrant domestic worker from the Philippines was also acquitted of theft charges in a similar case on October 30.
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- South China Morning Post: Will Singapore’s ruling party’s internal election reveal more about the future prime minister?
- Today Online: The Big Read in short: Migrant workers’ access to justice