Photo of Ng Chee Meng from Straits Times

After the embarrassing gaffe by former army general Minister Chan Chun Sing over his misuse of the word “bilingual”, another former army general-turned-Minister invented a new term to describe the modern workforce. Labelled “4.0”, Minister with no portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Office Ng Chee Meng said the employment landscape is now “4.0” and require “worker 4.0”:

“How do we actually match the new Singaporean worker to Industry 4.0? …We feel that this is a good start, but we want to drill deeper into what are the archetypes. For example, nurse 4.0, healthcare worker 4.0, technician 4.0.”

The former Chief of Defence Force who has never worked a day in the private sector told state media Straits Times in an interview that he will spending an undisclosed amount for a one-year “study” to research how Singapore workers can be matched into “future jobs”.

State media Straits Times then followed up with three government university professors to praise Minister Ng Chee Meng’s ambiguous idea. All three professors from NUS, NTU and SUSS claimed that the “study” will reduce unemployment rate in the future.

In his interview, Minister Ng Chee Meng who is also the chief of NTUC worker union then shot himself in the foot saying that the terms “blue-collar” and “white-collar” workers does not make sense to him because “technological disruption affects workers across the board”.

The millionaire minister then talked about retrenchments of Singaporeans in their 40s becoming more common, and that his solution to these retrenched workers is “networking”:

“One way is by partnering professional associations to help workers with networking and job placements. Don’t be surprised if you hear NTUC setting up more professional networks. We are already thinking about a Fintech Academy to provide training to PMEs for there are more of them in this area.”

Minister Ng Chee Meng ended the interview by praising himself and his “first 100 days” as NTUC chief:

“My first 100 days as labour chief have been rewarding as he has learnt a lot about workers’ grievances as well as heartwarming stories from the labour movement. Going to the ground, having kopi chats with the union leaders and the workers, you can almost see the whole policy loop – how the things the Government does ultimately affects the citizens of Singapore. So, in these 100 days I have been able to see what we are doing well, and what are the areas where we need to continue working on.”