Once again it’s May Day, public holiday for all in Singapore and commemorative day for the labour unions and workers over most parts of the world. In fact labour day was one of the first public holidays sanctioned by former late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Plagued by riots and unrest it took strong leadership on the part of Lee Kuan Yew to draw the Government, Employers and the labour union together and work as a collective towards a beneficial outcome for all three parties. This tripartism has retained its initial model and still survives to this day.
The call for change has been strong amongst the opposition party with calls for reform of the tripartism model, stating that it’s an old school regime. But with the tremendous upheaval that Singapore has gone through from the 60’s to now strongly boosted by the leadership of the Government and the strong backbone of the workforce it is not difficult to see that the model has worked efficiently, and with the old adage going “Don’t knock what works” why should there be a cry for change?
But with such a model in place, is it possible for Singapore to run on auto pilot assuming the exact some model that’s been in place for half a century? Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong answered that in cool fashion, likening it to Mercedes and their Formula 1 championship team. If the championship was only gained on the merit of Mercedes’ prowess then surely there would be no need for Lewis Hamilton.
In all, Labour Day in Singapore is a celebration and most of all a tribute to the workforce and the never say die spirit of those that have toiled and slummed it out to shape the nation to what it is today. The tripatism model can only work if all three elements work in unity. It is with a strong labour force that we are where we are as a nation. And with the support of the Government and the labour union to keep them abreast with times and provide them with the opportunity to step up and out of their comfort zone, that all Singaporeans can march to a singular dream of a better Singapore.