Thursday, February 24, 2005

Election time!

Six days you shall labour, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cow, or the traveller who's within your gates. Exodus 20:10, The Fourth Commandment They asked Jesus, "Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath?" so they may accuse him. Jesus said to them, "What man of you, if he has one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?...It is lawful to do good on the sabbath." Matthew 12:10
So I'm in an Internet cafe again using Firefox because I haven't found a place to stay yet. I think I will, eventually. Anyway, the state election (and this state is quite big, almost as big as the whole of Western Europe combined, with a population of 2 million) is on Saturday. I don't understand the politics here, so I'm going to go for Geoff because I think he's better looking and his name sounds the same as mine. I am very shallow, yes. The far more interesting thing, for me, is the referendum piggy-backed on the elections. Are you ready for the questions? They are not easy. Question 1 (50%) Do you believe that the Western Australian community would benefit if trading hours in the Perth Metropolitan Area were extended to allow general retail shops to trade until 9 pm Monday to Friday? Question 2 (50%) Do you believe that the Western Australian community would benefit if trading hours in the Perth Metropolitan Area were extended to allow general retail shops to trade for 6 hours on Sunday? At first they seem to be easy questions, but hold your horses. It's not as straightforward as I thought. The first thing that strikes me (and I guess any tourist) who visits Perth is the empty streets at 6pm. Shops close at 5pm. And some can't open on Sundays. So I asked myself, where did everyone go/vanish?! Homes, I guess. Be with their families. Bliss. Obviously this comes at a price; I can't go shopping, groceries or otherwise, at late hours. I don't know how people cope, but they seem to be able to. In Singapore (and perhaps most bigger cities worldwide), no one closes before 10pm, and I'm used to that schedule. Nonetheless, this sort of arrangement appeals to me because folks have the time to stay out of commercial activities at night. They can have time to read, to watch TV, to do their hobbies, to feed their pets, to do sports, basically, have a life. Maybe that's why Perth people are so nice in general! Ikea has taken out ads in the newspaper urging people to vote 'yes, yes'. They have the usual layout with the product and prices but beside each picture, a label reads 'not available on Sunday'. A local church has taken out ads urging folks to vote 'no, no'. The Electoral Commission has done a darn fine job in putting up the two sets of arguments in the newspapers; those from 'big business' urging folks to vote 'yes, yes', and those from smaller and independent businesses urging folks to vote the opposite. Maybe Singapore will have a real and independent electoral commission in the future. Singapore's famous department store CK Tang had a similar problem years ago. It simply refused to open on Sunday when everyone else did, no doubt in honour of the sabbath. But economic conditions forced the folks to relook the situation, and now they open on Sundays too. So if I could vote, I'm not sure what to do. On the one hand, the romantic me wants the status quo, small businesses get a little protection from big companies, commercial activity stops at evening time, and folks go back to their families. On the other hand, the convenience that longer trading hours entails is undeniably attractive. I don't really buy the sabbath argument in the traditional sense. The sabbath for an individual can be any day, not necessarily on a Sunday. If I'm forced to choose, I'd go for 'yes, yes'. I think folks should be able to choose when they want to open for business.


JulAngel said...

Q1: Yes, there would be more jobs , less unemployment, less beggars thank God! And it'll also benefit those who finish work late (like ME).. haha

Q2:Yes, I won't have to go all the way to the city or market to grab some things i'll usually get from the shops, which is like 3 mins from my house.

Ali said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ali said...

Well, the good news for me is that what I voted for won. I voted for Geoff Gallop, and I also voted 'no, no'.

My vote 'no, no' will now be explained like Amy's was above:

Q1. No, because the local businesses around me will have less and less business, as they get a lot of their business after hours. As well as this, punk-kids will be roaming the shops instead of studying at home. Punk-kids should study more. :)

Q2. Basically like question one, except that I will give an example of one of my friends' parents. She works 6 days a week, leaving only Sunday which she has off. If they extend trading hours to Sunday, she would have to work on Sunday as well, leaving her no time for herself or for her kids.

Western Australia is now the only Australian state with un-deregulated trading hours.

jeffyen said...

I actually think WAustralians are a noble bunch. Even if the actual economics is not necessarily well understood, the intention is there.

(In SG terms, the defeat of the referendum, is probably akin to disallowing NTUCs to open after 6pm so that the smaller supermarkets and shops can have more business. The second question refers to Ikea and other big stores not being able to open on Sundays to achieve the same result.)