When questioned about how retrenched maritime workers should response in the economy downturn, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong advised Singaporeans to stay hungry and steal:
“You must make sure you steal somebody else’s lunch. You must always want to do better but you cannot always want to hope for the sky, and that is the challenge. Because if you are not hungry, you would not try, but if you are unrealistic, you would be disappointed.”
A unionist in the maritime trade told the PM that the industry has retrenched up to 40,000 jobs, and that the offshore marine, oil and gas sector is in a “very painful” situation. In the first three months of 2017 alone, NTUC membership companies in the industry retrenched 200 employees because ships are no longer going to Singapore for repair work. It is understood that the lucrative ship repair business has been going to Malaysia ports which China have pumped billions into due to Lee Hsien Loong’s anti-China stance on the South China Sea issue.
To this, PM Lee Hsien Loong blames restructuring for the rapid job losses and dismiss the retrenchments as cyclical:
“This is an industry where you may have 12 months’ bonus or you may have no bonus – and right now, it is lean time… You have seen it bounce back. A lot of hard work has gone into that restructuring over the years.”