Singapore Budget 2014 introduced a 10% tobacco tax hike and a 25% alcohol tax hike. With. Immediate. Effect.
This coffeeshop wanted to make sure you knew who was to blame for your costlier cigarettes and beer and not give them a hard time about it, I suppose.
My mother-in-law also noticed this at the coffeeshop near her place, and said, "When Gahmen wants to tax you, it is immediate. When Gahmen wants to give you something (in her case, the Pioneer Generation package), it is later."
My aunt is a low wage worker, has been for many years. She doesn't really need to do it now, having retired, but she still does it because she doesn't like staying home.
In her many years doing jobs that Singaporeans don't like to do, like being a hawker assistant, chye tow kuay cook, clearing plates at a food court or fast food outlet, I have heard many stories of woe about the long hours and tough life.
Some employers take advantage of low wage workers like her, by doing things like making her work more than 12 hours a day, not paying for overtime, not giving paid public days, not granting sick leave, or not paying CPF on time (or not even paying CPF at all). And very often, many of these workers don't realize they have rights too, especially the older ones and the ones without formal education.
We keep an eye out for my aunt's rights, as her family, even though she works now to pass the time and meet people, but not everyone has family to protect them from unscrupulous employers.
My aunt has worked more than 12 hours many times in her previous jobs. It would have been good if someone had told her that was not allowed.
Once, she scalded her arm in the course of serving hot desserts. The boss paid for her to see a doctor but I don't think she was paid for the day she was on medical leave.
Other times, she gets bullied to come to work on days that other older workers don't want to work, even though she wasn't very much younger.
And not every employer she's had paid her CPF either. As if being paid so little isn't bad enough.
It's better now, she works for a big fast food chain that is more likely to follow the labour laws.
I was at Tiong Bahru Market last week, to watch a fun little musical number performed by theVoice, a community theatre group. They sang and danced to the song Jit Pa Ban, with new lyrics, to get the idea of workers' rights across, and to raise awareness of the WorkRight hotline (1800-221-9922). Everyone at the hawker centre watched with amusement, and gave them a hand at the end of the little show.
Hopefully, more workers will know their rights and how to protect themselves. If you are a friend or family member of someone who you know is being exploited, you can call the number too.
I was trolling the kids today, "So tomorrow you're going back to school ah? So tomorrow you're going back to school ah? So tomorrow you're going back to school ah?"
The kids replied, "So today you're going back to work ah?"
Kids 1 : Papa 0
I also got the Minecraft app for them finally, over the CNY weekend, after weeks of requests from the boy.
I bought it on the wife's iPad. The nice thing is that it is also on her iPhone so the two younger ones are playing on the same map together, quite value-for-money.
The downside is that I have to be the Police of Minecraft time.
After the first two days of CNY, I've come to the conclusion that kids can live on soft drinks and random CNY snacks. But if you hand them an iPad with Minecraft in it, they don't even need food and water.
Scientists, take note.
The kids have also become very sensitive to the health of our wifi internet connection. Over the weekend, our fibre broadband went down for a while and I had to declare, "Attention, members of this family who are currently online! The home internet connection seems to be down, I'm resetting the modem and router in 3… 2… 1…"
My two younger kids who were in the midst of their game cried out with the woeful wail of a thousand Minecraft zombies, "Papa! Nooooooo…"
I tried explaining that the internet was down anyway, so my resetting was meant to ensure that they could play on.
Like the kids, the wife is also on leave today, so she slept in a bit.
The wife told me Faith woke her up this morning and dragged her finger to the clock by our bed, as if to say, "Mommy, why aren't you going to work yet?"
My quiet autistic daughter surprises us all the time.