Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Singapore: Mark Lee admits that most of his workers at Old Town White Coffee are from mainland China [Temasek Review]

News from the Temask Review – “an internet newspaper which aims to provide an independent, balanced and unbiased coverage on socio-political affairs in Singapore. We are not linked to any political party or commercial entity.” They provide news without the broadsheet slant – what is true is this, most Singaporeans are finding it hard to order food on their own turf because many of these workers are unable to speak English, Singapore’s language of utility for the longest time. It truly is strange – seeing how Singaporeans have to get better at Mandarin in this way.

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Mark Lee admits that most of his workers at Old Town White Coffee are from mainland China
Source – Temasek Review, 03 Feb 2010

Singapore’s famous comedian Mark Lee who has opened five Old Town White Coffee outlets in Singapore has admitted to a Chinese news portal xin.sg that most of the company’s staff are mainland Chinese.

It was reported by xin.sg that as most of their workers are from China, the company decided that it would be most convenient for them to receive their bonuses in cash.

Mark Lee is contemplating buying a cash counting machine to pay his China workers in cash:

“That is why we are going to buy a cash counting machine this year. I’m not being proud by saying this – otherwise, we really can’t count the cash!”

He did not reveal why his company preferred to employ mainland Chinese over Singaporeans.

One likely reason is the lower cost of PRC workers. According to an insider from the F&B industry, a PRC service staff usually cost between $600 – $800 monthly.

As Malaysians are demanding higher wages now, many are switching to the “cheaper” PRC workers.
Few Singaporean will be keen to take up jobs at such low wages which are hardly enough to survive in Singapore.

There is no minimum wage in Singapore. Employers have the complete autonomy to set the wages as they see fit and with the easy availability of cheap foreign labor, they have few incentives to employ Singaporeans who cost more.

For a China worker, $600 translates to about RMB$2,900 which is far higher than what they can earn doing the same job back home.

Stung by rising anger on the ground as its ill-conceived pro-foreigner labor policies, the ruling party is now trying to claw back lost support by promising to reduce Singapore’s reliance on foreign workers.

Based on feedback we obtain from readers, companies are still employing foreigners with some posting discriminatory job ads to scour for foreign workers of selected nationality.

Since the ruling party is unwilling to do more to help Singaporeans from the lower-income group who are being squeezed out of their livelihoods by the relentless influx of cheap foreign labor, Singaporeans will have to help them ourselves.

Filed under: Chinese overseas, Communications, Migrant Workers, Temasek Review, The Chinese Identity

2 Responses

  1. vanessa says:

    i do agreed tat not ALL China workers are bad, I still did seen some reali nice, hardworking, service-orientated workers here. However, most of them failed to display the right attitude & behaviour. Most of them felt tat singapore is their own country, homeland….

  2. Dr Ken Mansukhani says:

    Autrocious service at East Coast outlet. Waited around 20 minutes for order to be taken and only gave order for food after having to call a waiter who seemed preoccupied with other more important tasks other than serving his paying customers. Close up please.

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