29 Jul 2003

Democratization of Work

Well today I have decided to write a more serious article on the current working conditions in Singapore. Apart from the annoyance of having to work 6 days a week, there are a few issues that need to be addressed. The issues are avoided within all the media controlled newspapers, TV stations and radio stations. The issue is linked to poor job satisfaction and the high level of staff turnover, which must have a detrimental effect on the nations productivity. So instread of calling for Singaporean workers to change their mind sets I feel it is necessary to demand a 'Democratisation of Work'.

The political theorist David Held argues that 'democracy' although a highly dubious and argumentative concept, possesses the following generally held notions.

Number one is 'Equality', that the relationship between the parties involved is that of equal partnership. When applied to the Singaporean worker's conditions this is regarded as a normative value within other relationships, and the working relationship is not exempt from this criteria. Decisions that effect each partner should involve each member in the decision making process. Rather than commands being issued from the management or government.

Number two is 'Autonomy', whereby people are in the relationship as a result of choice and they have a degree of freedom as to how they define their personal space. This involves issues of appearance, working hours and conditions. Working over-time without receiving proper monetary compensation is eating into individuals personal lives and eroding time spent with family and significant others. Resulting in long term detrimental effects on the birth rate and individuals ability to define themselves or be creative.

Number three is 'Respect', that each others views and wishes are given the respect that they demand. No ones grievance should be brushed aside or merely ridiculed without proper consideration. This is particularly important with relation to an open dialogue that is not manipulated and is not simply the imposition of the managements motives and goals at the expense of the work force. Which leads us to...

Number four, 'Communication', that discourse and discussion are free from interference and to refer to Habarmas, that anyone can at anytime introduce a topic for discussion or as a summary of Habarmas:

Habarmas Ideal Speech Situation;

1. Each subject who is capable of speech and action is allowed to participate in discourses.

2. A.) Each is allowed to call into question any proposal.

B) Each is allowed to introduce any proposal into discourse.

C) Each is allowed to express his attitudes, wishes, and needs.

3. No speaker ought to be hindered by compulsion - whether arising from inside the discourse or outside of it from making use of the rights secured under [1 and 2].

And finally, 'Free from violence', now this criteria will require a little alteration in order to include safety at work and health care benefits for workers. It does however also include freedom from the constant threat of, 'well if you don't like it you can leave', issued by an individual who is aware that the worker cannot leave. This is a threat of 'retrenchment' or 'sacking' and should be regarded as a verbal warning to all those present. The situation usually arises when an arbitrary altering of working conditions is about to be implimented thereby rendering all, if any, contracts invalid. It is a threat of violence to the ability of the worker to maintain an income. It is a THREAT.

The issues outlined above are merely values that many feel but are unable to express in Singapore. They maybe unattainable but that does not necessarily mean they can be ignored. The trade unions here are to put it nicely a 'joke'. The workers have no one to protect them from the ever changing whims of the management and the government. They have no real voice, and no means of expressing their legitimate concerns. However, managers and government administrator should always remember that Singapore is NOTHING without it's workforce.

16 Jul 2003

It has just occurred to me that with the recent change of office facillities, that i am now in a living hell.

i have a rather small cubicle with no door and if i stand up i can just see over the partition. however, while working at the computer 'i hear voices'. i even recognise some of these voices as in i can put a name to them. but isn't that how some schizophrenics also relate to the voices they hear in their head.

I also hear the clatter of their keys as they communicate with the outside world. these partitions have created a 'virtual world', even though i am at any given time no more than two feet from my closest fellow inmate.

i once read somewhere that modern capitalism coud be likened to a type of schizophrenia. I however would prefer to compare the structure of the organisation i am currently commited to as being an attempt to induce a sense of schizophrenia in the natives, and this alien. This little island is modelling itself on what it perceives the entire planet to be engaged in. they are following the western model of office planning. I think it was Foucault who mentioned that the design of a building in the 'modern' world was first devised as a prison. this enabled the prison warden, to view many inmates at the same time from one vantage point.

todays more backward model no longer requires a warden to monitor the inmates. the inmates are now monitoring each other. i have no privacy....

They are trying to turn me into a schizophrenic, paranoid, self-censoring machine. i could not be in hell then. because to be in hell requires me to have had at one time or another a soul. my only release is to vent my pent up issues via this machine. if there is a way in then there must be a way out.

planning escape....
this is nicky signing off

11 Jul 2003

well it looks like the locals are actually starting to question current leadership policies. just recently the leader announced that gay foreigners would be 'welcome ' to come and work on this little island. thats very nice of him i thought. is he saying that they were not welcome last week? they may however have to declare their sexuality, which if implimented appears to reafirm suspicions of discrimination based on sexuality on this tiny island.

this little island has for a long time lagged behind in terms of human rights, and civil rights. the papers are peppered with debates on 'bar-top' dancing, 'extended opening hours' and now the 'gay issue'. all of which appear to be avoiding the large plank embedded in the human rights 'eye'. namely... the thorny issue of freedom of speech and an open democracy that has free elections. gerrymandering is a large issue during elections, with the ruling party redrawing electoral boundaries as they see fit.

also, the media (tv. newspapers, radio)is all state owned and so opposition parties are not given the same air time in the run up to elections. those who do place themselves in opposition are often dragged through the courts on charges of slander or defimation of character. all of these cases so far have been in favour of the slandered MP. christopher lingles work may account for these court rulings. this is an authoriative government that is relaxing its strangle hold, but not quickly enough and only in areas that they see fit. areas that do not jeopardize their strangle hold on power, economic and ideological.

the fear of the leaders appears to be a backlash of some sort from the electorate, possibly with regard to 'how they came to power' and the human rights violations that were carried out during the transition period. the past will haunt...

8 Jul 2003

yesterday i decided to take my campaign of questioning every little command issued by the management to a new level. i have now started encouraging others to do the same. the leaders of this little island have been saying 'no' to the natives for so long now that the natives need to be taught how to say it again. classes will be run daily, formally and informally. the first issue that the natives need to overcome is fear.

the leaders in the past have dealt devastating blows to those who opposed them. some natives are reported to have spent months in solitary confinement. the great supreme leader even takes pride in crushing opponents who were once strong individuals. rather sadistic i'd say.

as mentioned in early postings, the leaders are determined to create individuals, with diferent 'mind sets'. there is great danger ahead. the 'out of bounds' topics have recently come to the attention of the leader controlled media. demanding that the natives be more adventurous in questioning and debating issues while at the same time, limiting the freedom of the discourse does appear self-defeating. what the leaders require are a few instances of individuals tresspassing the boundaries, in order for these 'criminal types' to be hauled through the media circus. thereby informing the majority of the natives that the boundaries are real, that they will be inforced and these are the rules that need to be adhered to. These so called criminal types will fulfil a valuable and necessary function for the stability of the nation. thereby attracting investors from multi national corporations and it 'will be good for the economy'.

this is hicky, signing out......

4 Jul 2003

well today at work the natives have asked me to fill in a small piece of paper, ticking boxes as i go along... declaring that I am aware of and that i am going to abide by the rules and regulations of the organisation...

now! when i put my signature to it, it kinda makes it legally binding, isn't that correct. my concern is that i will as a result of error or mis-judgemnet fail to comply with one of the rules and then be reprimanded or even worse dragged through the courts...

these multiple lists have been drawn up with out my knowledge or involvement and have in the past been known to change without prior consultation. So this results in myself and my fellow workers having to abide by rules that we don't even know exist. its all getting very Kafkaesque on this little island.

the particular co-worker handed me the said sheet of paper in an off hand manner. as if it was the replacement roll for the bathroom. are the others unaware of the implications? there is a meeting soon and i shall try to 'speak' today again. wish me luck....

3 Jul 2003

the small island i am currently living on appears to be inhabited by people as opposed to individuals... I have noticed several posters proclaiming that they place "society above self". This cultural value appears to pervade all decision making processes. Most arguements appear to come to a conclusion with the utterance of the same phrase... Regardless of the nature of the debate or the issues at hand the last sentence is always the same and signals the end of the discussion. "It is good for the economy".

usually uttered by a male claiming superior status to others involved in the so-called discussion. I use the term 'discussion' loosely. The 'gatherings' are more akin to that of a lecture, whereby one of the bodies talks and the others feign interest, such as knodding head and tilting head to the left or right. Significance of tilting left or right may require further research...Only the self-proclaimed individual or speaker may speak. I have myself upon arrival commited a serious breach in the rules of interaction by uttering , during a gathering the phrases, 'no' and 'why?'. these words responded in a breach of the rules of speech. Or simply put, i spoke. Quickly realising my mistake and making excuses this body retreated from the gathering... in order to return another day.

the posters, as mentioned earlier, appear to be rather misleading... there are no individual selves when society (whatever that is) dominates individuals. Self appears to refer to something unique or individualistic in nature. The inhabitants themselves are starting to concern themselves with this very same question... All primarily in the hope that it, "will be good for the economy."
Well even though i feel pretty new to this blogging, i guess it will give me space to rant and rave as much as possible. Some argue that this is a good thing, in order to vent the anger and resentment that may be building up inside, thereby letting off some steam , even though nothing is actually achieved... NOT in this place. Here they practice something called 'self-censorship' what ever the fucking hell that is i don't have a clue after being here for 5 years...