Photo from Facebook

A photo of a notice put up at a Singapore shopping mall warning workers not to use a mall toilet sparked outrage on Facebook. The discriminatory notice threatened a S$107 fine for the low income workers:

“A penalty of $107.00 (incl. of GST) will be imposed for non-compliance and unauthorised use of toilets at level 1 and 2.”

According to the lady who put up the photo on her Facebook profile, Martha Lee said her Japanese friend commented that “this won’t happen in Japan”:

“Was shocked to see this outside level one toilet at Marina One The Heart yesterday. I showed my photo of this sign to my Japanese friend whom I was with who said, “This won’t happen in Japan.” #singapore — at Marina One the Heart.”

Hours after the post went viral, the owner of the A-grade commercial mall Marina One defended itself saying it is “industry practice” and issued a public statement through state media Straits Times:

“We apologise for any concern the sign may have caused. (But) It is an industry practice to have designated toilets for workers at newly completed developments. This practice ensures that there isn’t any confusion for those needing to use the toilets, who may think that contractors are there to fix an issue. It also keeps out any construction dust from these facilities, for the comfort of the users.”

Income discrimination is very common in Singapore. Foreign workers, mainly from third world countries like Bangladesh, India, China and South East Asia, are widely discriminated against by the rich in Singapore. In 2013 Little India Riot, low income workers from India testified that they were being poorly treated in Singapore with many earning as little as S$25 a day, and living in overpopulated dormitories:

Photo of Singapore foreign worker dorm from Straits Times

Foreign workers on Work Permit are highly profitable to both employers and the Singapore government. The foreign worker levy cost S$700 a month, and they draw an average salary of S$800 a month.

Singapore has one of the world’s highest income inequality, at a GINI coefficient of 0.458 – second highest when compared with OECD nations. The inequality is particularly evident in the streets of Singapore, where elderly poor are often seen pushing trolleys of cardboard for a living. It is also common to see Singaporean elderly half-begging for a living in the shopping malls, selling tissue paper for S$1.

The state of poverty among the elderly is largely due to the failure of the national retirement fund CPF. Since brought to power in 2004, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong restricted CPF withdrawal rules by doubling the Minimum Sum from S$80,000 to S$181,000, and increasing Withdrawal Age from 55 to 65.

The corrupted Prime Minister also depressed the CPF interest rates at 2.5%, so he and his wife Ho Ching – who sit as Chairman of GIC and CEO of Temasek Holdings respectively – can borrow government funds at cheap rates to invest overseas. The surplus generated above the 2.5% coupon rate is private profits of the two companies, which goes into the million dollar salaries of the corrupted couple.