About immigrants and the government’s relentless pursue for GDP


This letter is written to TOC by the social worker who passed the story by Wang E's husband to us. Wang E, a PRC national has been repatriated out of Singapore as she has overstayed her short term visit pass. She has been married to a Singaporean for more than nine years.

TOC has emailed the Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA) for a response for the story. They replied saying, "We regret that we are not able to discuss details of the case with a third party."


By an unnamed social worker

I am a volunteer and hope to remain as anonymous. I am not surprised with the monotonous reply from ICA. They have been doing this all the while using the policy of non-disclosure to defend their lack of transparency on criteria.

To have a better understanding on the case, I would like to share some of my analysis on the government agency and civil servants' behavior. After then, you will understand their mindset thinking and what might cause the civil servants to behave in this manner.

On the surface, it seems what matter is on that point that Wang E committed an offence. But if you look deeper into the issues, it is the program run by the inter-government agencies as they are money minded for public service. The government manages the country as a corporation, and the agency is their sub-commercial unit to support the increase of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

ICA opened the floodgate for more foreigners to come to our country. If more foreigners come to Singapore to look for jobs, it will mean more revenues received by our government.

Foreigners’ on high income will be granted new citizenship. Those foreigners cannot secure a work permit will be considered as illegal workers. The police (CID) will catch them if they landed in the wrong place or visit friends at workplace or walk on the street or having a meal in a coffee shop in ‘troubled’ area.

In the eye of authority, those foreigners without a work permit are considered as illegal workers and will be sent to ICA for repatriation. Even if the foreigner can show receipt to prove they are customer having a drink with friend, it will not be recognized by our police officer (CID) as they only recognize “work permit” issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). It does not matter whether if the accused (foreigner) admit to the offence as the authority will use the power to send these foreigners for repatriation to close the case.

Inter-Government Agency Work on GDP

From my observation, the performance of civil servants could be linked to GDP for their performance bonus and promotion.

ICA will issue more passes to foreigners to increase the government's revenue. It would mean more revenue for ICA for their performance bonus. More foreigners would mean more choices for Government Linked Companies (GLC) to employ cheap labor to increase their GLC business profitability.

If more foreigners come to Singapore to work, it means MOM has more worker levies to collect. With more foreigner’s coming to Singapore, police will have a job to do for their performance bonus. The more foreigner is also meant Ministers can receive more Performance bonus which is linked to GDP.

All agencies are working very hard to achieve GDP benchmark by the government lead to competition on each agency to chasing the money for every ministry. This had lead to a wrong direction of country development that is making more people to suffer under ‘high cost and low wages’ system.

Visiting wrong place, visiting friends in their working place, walking on the street or have a meal in coffee shop in trouble area can bring trouble to these foreigners if the police raid the area (especially when the foreigner is female). Our authority will label them as an illegal worker, pub girl or even prostitute.

The mainstream media occasionally publish news on the raid in those areas to show the public that the government is working very hard to maintain the order and safety to the residents. These foreigners are being labelled as ‘criminals’. In actual, these foreigners are a victim under GDP program.

Back to the foreign spouse topic, ICA thinks those foreign spouses might be able to contribute to GDP will grant a long term visit pass (LTVP) for 6 months to try. If those foreign spouses are not able to secure a job, it will result in a non-renewable LTVP. Those who cannot renew their foreign spouse's LTVP will need to apply STVP (on and off basis). Each failed application on STVP will means another $30 dollars spent and have to re-submit the application. The applicant has to submit the application numerous times before they can be successful.

ICA doesn't care whether they are foreign spouse or foreigners as they classified these people under the same category (Tourist). The tourist has no legal right to stay and no protection under law.

In the instances of Wang E's Case. This rationale can explain why Wang E still struck at the entry level on STVP after 9 years marriage. It also explains the reason why ICA refuse to issue the Permanent Resident (PR) / citizenship status to give her right to stay with her husband.

Other Cases that I have handled

I have spoken to those PRC students and foreign workers who have been reported to ICA for repatriation at ICA. I was told they have paid a huge sum of money to the middle man and our government to study in Singapore on student pass. Some are paying a huge sum of money to the middle man for work permit to MOM. Due to the high cost of living and low pay to foreigner workers, high school fees, high workers levy have forced them to work to pay for their school fees, daily expense and agency fee.

My understanding from a foreign friend, students can work in Australia and New Zealand and is legal. But this is not the case in SG as our law made these people become illegal workers.

We think the problem lies with ICA failing to issue her a PR status despite married to a Singaporean for such a long period of time. The repatriation of Wang E is just one of the many cases, what I want to emphasize is the immoral practice by government, this GDP program will only create more victims under the system.

The letter has been edited for clarity

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  • jessie

    This quick fix to increase GDP is going to cost the State and the citizens on a long term. Singapore cannot copy-cat London or New York in its numbers as we import most of our food
    and necessities. Costs will keep going up and without increase in wages this govt. is going to bankrupt its citizens. There must be a change in this policy otherwise the citizen has to vote this
    govt. out !

    • Samson

      Huh, copy-cat London or New York??? Far from it! London has minimum wage policy, strict health and safety policy, healthcare, etc etc. London attracts real talents and celebrities as it is a city for free thoughts, free speech, creativity, innovation you name it. Want to copy-cat? No so easy.

      • PikuChoo

        London is not worth emulating. But that is exactly what our dear PM has been doing and had been given an award for doing it by them if I’m not mistaken earlier this year.

      • jessie

        I was referring to the number of people only.

  • PikuChoo

    If this letter has been edited for “clarity”, I shudder to think what it must have read in its original version…

  • liangjwc1

    This letter on the part of GDP, whether edited or not, is a very clear example for me at least more than 15 years ago.
    Only now or only last few years people start to notice the same problem.
    Why? Our use of local ad hoc welders is “expensive in comparison” when our competitors, using all FWs were always successful in providing services to govt linked companies in open tenders.

  • Andrew Leung

    This shows that the Prime Minister and Ministers are out of touch with reality and discriminate against poor people/families in Singapore and are incapable of leading this country. The MP in charge of this family has been sleeping on the job for 9 years. They must set up a Foreign Spouse Ministry/Department and settle all outstanding Foreign Spouse Citizenship matters immediately. The Minister of Population and Talent Division and Minister of Social and Family must take care of this matter. The Minister of Manpower and Home Affairs are not doing their jobs also. They are treating people like a fishball stick.

  • Samson

    Our Gross Domestic Poo has indeed increased publicly.

  • Andrew Leung

    They are letting money blind their eyes and the law and lose their humanity. The FTs that beat up Singaporeans are favored and are considered talents and jobs creators. FTs are given 1 year Tourist Visa to look for jobs while Foreign Spouse cannot get PR and must renew their Social Visit Pass. They give free scholarships to entice them to stay and integrate. All those free scholarship recipients should do 2 years NS if they cannot find a job within 6 months or return all the scholarship funds.

  • Arnold_Chong

    Is Population Growth a Ponzi Scheme?

    When it comes to population growth, why is more not always better?

    By Joseph Chamie, March 4, 2010

    “According to Ponzi demography, population growth — through natural increase and immigration — means more people leading to increased demands for goods and services, more material consumption, more borrowing, more on credit and of course more profits. Everything seems fantastic for a while — but like all Ponzi schemes, Ponzi demography is unsustainable.

    When the bubble eventually bursts and the economy sours, the scheme spirals downward with higher unemployment, depressed wages, falling incomes, more people sinking into debt, more homeless families — and more men, women and children on public assistance.

    That is the stage when the advocates of Ponzi demography — notably enterprises in construction, manufacturing, finance, agriculture and food processing — consolidate their excess profits and gains. That leaves the general public to pick up the tab for the mounting costs from increased population growth (e.g., education, health, housing and basic public services).

    Among its primary tactics, Ponzi demography exploits the fear of population decline and aging. Without a young and growing population, we are forewarned of becoming a nation facing financial ruin and a loss of national power.”


    • PikuChoo

      Singapore (in its earlier days) became what it was because our leaders then did NOT take the easy path, we took the less trodden HARD route. We did things the way we did because they were the RIGHT things to do.

      The population ponzi (basically ALL the policies the present govt is pursuing) is NOT the right thing to do, it simply is the EASY thing to do.

  • Soo Bon Yee

    The chase for Growth by increasing population and the buying of instant “talent” are going to backfire in long term. GDP will one day becomes stagnant eventually and those “bought” instant talents will used the Singapore Passport to jump ship and at the same time locals will migrate to countries with green pasture. If the government continue to ignore the facts and the calls to close the “ghost” doors, then we can expect the citystate to collapse, with all the rich and elite running for shelters outside, leaving the helpless to rebuild the country as in the early 1900’s. I admired the generations that stayed and built the “little red dots” from scratch to a first world country and now 1st world for some and third world for most.

  • Arnold_Chong

    Road rage biker who punched through VW driver’s window jailed three weeks

    Published on Sep 29, 2014

    By Elena Chong

    SINGAPORE – A motorcyclist who punched and shattered the window of a Volkswagen in a road rage incident was jailed for three weeks on Monday.

    James George Palin, 33, a Briton who was formerly the regional director of a recruitment company, had hit the bumper of a car driven by legal officer Mr Chiang Pak Chien, 43, while overtaking him on Tanjong Katong Road.

    See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/courts-crime/story/road-rage-biker-who-punched-through-vw-drivers-window-jailed-three#sthash.iqvDiRRR.dpuf