GE2020 saw the Workers’ Party pull another upset on the PAP by winning another GRC, a newly created GRC at that. Jamus Lim with his impressive credentials and accented English, is believed to be the main reason for WP’s win in Sengkang GRC. More than one year on, we look at the impressions Jamus Lim has made on Singaporeans.
He called for a universal minimum wage
In his maiden appearance in Parliament, he called for a universal minimum wage and surprised Singaporeans when he said he did not know what the appropriate level for a minimum wage should be. Some wondered if he had read the WP Manifesto.
He took credit for the Progressive Wage Model and attributed it to the ‘power of the ballot in shifting status quo’.
He took credit when he heard SM Tharman referred to the Progressive Wage Model as Minimum Wage Plus. He described the Minimum Wage Plus as ‘remarkable progress’ and declared that a policy shift has taken place in favour of a minimum wage. He attributed this ‘shift’ to the ‘power of the ballot box’ to shift the status quo.
Note: Minimum Wage Plus is another name for Progressive Wage Model (Minimum wage + steps for progression).
His strawman arguments
His maiden appearance in Parliament saw the usually mild-mannered Senior Minister Tharman rise to tell him to avoid strawman arguments and not to assume he has a monopoly over compassion.
“Also, and here’s a bit of advice. Try to avoid strawman arguments, like saying that the government is only interested in efficiency and not equity. That’s frankly laughable.
“Try to avoid that manner of an argument of painting everything in binary terms. It’s usually not necessary to reply but I say this as a piece of general advice.”
He called for an environment tax on SIA
He called for an environment tax on SIA in the midst of the pandemic and suggested that the cost could be passed on to passengers.
With 96% of SIA’s flights grounded, then Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung told him there were no passengers to pass the cost to.
He argued against the Progressive Wage Model.
In October 2020, in Parliament, he criticised the Progressive Wage Model saying that it was based on ‘folksy wisdom’ of union leaders and not on evidence.
“As much as it will be lovely to always rely on folksy wisdom and beliefs by labour union leaders… it’s worth reminding ourselves that there was a time when in the 16th century when people believed that the sun revolved around the earth but that belief is not the same as evidence..” he said.
Less than a year later, he took credit for the Progressive Wage Model.
Less than a year after criticising the PWM, he took credit for it when enhancement for the PWM for the cleaning sector was announced. He declared that the implementation of the PWM was along lines of what WP sought and urged voters to ‘make their vote count’.
Note: The PWM for the Cleaning Sector was implemented in 2015.
He suggested that funding for popular schools be reduced.
He suggested that funding for schools be ‘inversely proportional to the number of students accepted in Phase 2A. This means less funds for popular schools. The idea is that with less funds, popular schools will become less popular.
In response, then Education Minister Lawrence Wong told him that MOE’s funding for schools is based on student enrolment, student profile, and any programmatic needs to support student learning. More is provided for those with greater needs.
“Our objective is to uplift all students, and to provide more support for those with greater needs,” Mr Lawrence Wong said.
He suggested that the full size of Singapore’s reserves be revealed for currency speculation.
He said revealing the full size of the Singapore reserves could encourage stabilising speculation. “If we were off our fundamentally determined exchange rates, we could encourage market participants to actually engage in speculative activity that would get us back on to our fundamental exchange rate,” he said.
He drew a response from MP Mr Saktiandi Supaat who told him, “The impact of the currency attacks can never be stabilising. It has ramifications on the economy, it has ramifications on jobs.”
He also earned a very sharp rebuke from DPM Heng Swee Keat who told not not to play with fire. Mr Heng said, “I was very alarmed when I heard Associate Professor Jamus lim citing theoretical literature that speculation could be stabilising. As a practitioner at the frontline, who tries my best to understand the intricacies of the system I must caution Associate Professor Jamus Lim – let us not play with fire. This is about the lives of our people, not theoretical musings.
He suggested that the records of ex-criminals of non-violent crimes be expunged for employment purposes.
His suggestion was rejected by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam who said that there are many offences that are serious but “may not necessarily involve physical violence”. These include sexual grooming, outrage of modesty, criminal breach of trust as well as theft in dwelling.
Mr Shanmugam said that the Government’s approach to helping ex-offenders is through rehabilitation and helping them find jobs, and that this is done in a “transparent manner”.
He caused a stir when he was seen walking along in Anchorvale.
Following a torrent of complaints about the state of the estate’s cleanliness and uncollected rubbish for weeks, he was seen walking alone in Anchorvale. Supporters praised him but residents remained unimpressed as they swarmed his Facebook posts with invitations to visit their neighbourhood to see for himself how the estate has deteriorated. He explained that there was a recent change in cleaning contractor.
He enjoys food.
Lastly, he enjoys food as evidenced from his Facebook posts.