Photo of Josephine Teo from The New Paper

Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo posted a vigorous opposition to having unemployment insurance for Singaporeans, saying that the insurance will only cause the unemployed to be lazy and wait just before the benefits expire to find jobs. Citing “studies” from anonymous sources, Minister Josephine Teo said that the unemployed in Denmark leeched on the full benefits before taking up jobs:

“The most serious downside with automatic insurance payouts is that it reduces the incentive to find work. In Denmark, studies found that jobless workers waited until just before the benefits expire to take up available jobs.”

The PAP Minister also made a cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, claiming that unemployment insurance resulted in the higher unemployment rate of other developed countries – without consideration of social benefits in other countries not available in Singapore e.g. Minimum Wage:

“While developed countries have had unemployment insurance for years, their unemployment rates are generally significantly higher than ours.”

Minister Josephine Teo also accused the opposition NCMP for downplaying the cost of unemployment insurance, and used Canada and South Korea’s insurance schemes as example when the latter countries have a higher salary compared to Singapore’s workforce:

“WP’s claim that a redundancy insurance scheme needs only 0.1 per cent of a worker’s monthly salary is too good to be true. Similar schemes cost 4.4 per cent of wages in Canada and 2.2 per cent in South Korea. WP has not explained why its proposal costs so much less than other countries’, saying realistically, it costs at least 1 per cent to 2 per cent of wages.”

Minister Josephine Teo then declared that the solution to unemployment is to find employment as soon as possible to eliminate the jobseeking period:

“There are schemes to help workers who lose their jobs find new ones. To guard against unemployment, we emphasise employment support because it is still the best way forward. I urge Members not to get distracted. Let us stay focused on making our employment support programmes the best that they can be for all Singaporeans.”

Singapore’s unemployment rate is currently at a 7-year-high of 3.2%, with total job losses at a 14-year-high of 6,500. In his May Day speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong lamented that unemployment rate is going to “creep up” and that his government is at a loss to reverse the situation. Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say went into denial mode and claimed that there are “ample jobs available”, and blamed Singaporeans for “mismatch of skills”.