Minister-in-Charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing recently remarked that the diversity of Public Service Commission Scholarship recipients goes beyond race, language, and religion. This raises questions about how diverse recipients have been in socio-economic terms, of which pre-university education provides a good proxy for assessment. In this piece, Andrew Chia looks at why diversity in background matters, and explores the diversity of PSC scholars using compiled data on PSC Scholarships from 2007 to 2018.Read more
Singapore’s current efforts in managing plastic waste are mostly focused on downstream measures, but the broader issue of plastic consumption continues to require action upstream. Ensuring responsible production processes, through policy regulation, can help to promote general reduction of plastic waste and environmental impact. To that end, Woo Qiyun spotlights the role of an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme in Singapore, to increase the accountability of corporations and government.Read more
How might we mainstream social justice ideas and language, beginning a national conversation that extends beyond more recognised civil society actors? Reflecting on the discourse surrounding migrant rights, Quah Say Jye draws upon philosopher Miranda Fricker’s concept of “epistemic injustice” to propose a shared vocabulary that might allow migrant workers into our linguistic community. He suggests that our semantic choices need to accurately represent the lived experiences of migrant workers, be accessible to them and the general public, and have the potential to pivot towards broader structural critiques.Read more
Poh Yong Han argues that while addressing poor dormitory and food standards for migrant workers are important, they merely represent the tip of the iceberg. Unless we tackle the underlying structural issues that explain why migrant workers “consent” to such poor standards (low wages, high agency fees) in the first place, we are not addressing the root cause of the problem. To address them, she proposes setting a Minimum Income Threshold, and enforcing fair recruitment practices. She further suggests reconsidering whether the Work Permit scheme as it stands is even ethical, and asks if current restrictions (such as tying workers to specific employers) need to be loosened, and whether a fairer migrant worker policy would entail providing them with pathways to citizenship or residency.Read more
Al Lim looks at how COVID-19 exacerbates existing vulnerabilities that small business owners already struggle with and considers how government support mechanisms can – and should – be deployed to help them cope with both the ongoing effects and aftermath of the pandemic.Read more
What happens to citizenship when crisis disrupts the state’s ability to fulfil its obligations to its citizens, or when citizens find themselves unable to depend on their states for a meaningful guarantee of protection in times of need? Using the emergent COVID-19 pandemic as a lens, Theophilius Kwek considers how states, including Singapore, can do better in caring equally for their citizens – and how citizens can also support each other.Read more
In Singapore, foreign domestic workers (FDWs) on Work Permits are subject to various bio-political restrictions: namely, restrictions that govern who they can marry and whether they can be pregnant.
What explains these restrictions, and why is the state so invested in policing the private intimacies of foreign domestic workers? Poh Yong Han traces through parliamentary debates and newspaper articles to show how these restrictions are informed by a neoliberal philosophy that informs how we view citizenship, and unpacks its consequences.Read more