The questions and arguments raised in response to Dr Jamus Jerome Lim’s speech in Parliament highlighted the fact that some of his positions and proposals were not only “laughable” (according to SM Tharman) but also dangerous.
Dr Lim made proposals in the highest office of the country without thinking deep enough about his proposal and coming out with details. This is totally unbecoming and unacceptable.
In supporting his argument, Dr Lim alluded to research done by universities which were completely unfounded as raised by SM Tharman because universities don’t do research. It’s individuals who conduct research and Dr Lim made no reference to any seminal research by prominent researchers to support his argument.
He also did not raise any of the trade-offs of a minimum wage policy, including the possibility that consumers would have to pay for higher costs of goods and services.
Tharman to Jamus: avoid strawman arguments and don't assume you have a monopoly in compassion
Dr Lim accused the government of sacrificing equity for efficiency. He has clearly taken a binary position but subsequently responded to questions that it was a continuum between two polarities. In any case, he did not take a stand as to where he stood in the continuum. His proposal is an open-ended presupposition that is long on hype and short on clarity, and one that has no effective handle for implementation.
Dr Lim should be familiar with the irrationality of a straw man argument when he mentioned about investing in the “youth of today”. Fortunately, he was shot down by both speakers, Tan Chuan-Jin and SM Tharman.
More importantly, in raising the minimum wage at this time, he did not respond fully to many questions posed by his fellow parliamentarians. To his credit, he admitted that a minimum wage policy could put more jobs in danger. Even if a minimum wage policy were to be enacted at a better time, he did not justify whether the minimum wage could become a millstone when the economy goes through the next downturn, nor did he argue how a minimum wage policy is superior to Workfare and the Progressive Wage Model.
Dr Lim virtually turned the Parliament into a classroom for undergraduates and even with that, young students can put forth better proposals, arguments and responses.
Like many politicians in the world, he did not contribute material substance to parliamentary proceedings but played to the gallery.
“The problem now is how to work the system of one man, one vote when we have to get quality leadership to the top. If we leave it to natural processes it will be a contest on television performances as in the West. And the best television performers and rally entertainers are not necessarily the best leaders who can deliver good government”
By: Grace Yeo