Shawn Danker and Joshua Chiang/ Photos by Shawn Danker
Presidential candidate Tan Jee Say asserted that he was not suggesting closing down factories when he proposed in his economic paper for a shifting out of manufacturing into services.
“My position is quite clear about it. It is not to promote manufacturing because Singapore is short of land and labour and you cannot compete with bigger countries like China, India, Vietnam and all that,” he said. “If they (the factories) can be profitable, they can remain here.”
His reply came after a statement made by fellow Presidential candidate Dr Tony Tan on 12 August 2011, when the former Deputy Prime Minister said that phasing out manufacturing would be a “grave mistake”.
“We will suffer for it. Our economy will be less resilient, less diversified. There will be fewer options for our young people and Singapore will lose,” Dr Tan told reporters after a dialogue with 100 members of the Singapore Manufacturers’ Federation.
In response Mr Tan said, “Obviously during the General Elections my views were distorted and then they said I want to close down factories. I did not say those things.”
Mr Tan was speaking to The Online Citizen after a walkabout at Parkway Parade on Sunday afternoon.
When asked whether low-skilled workers would be affected, Mr Tan noted that there are also low skill workers in non-manufacturing sectors as well, for example in the business sectors, and the service sector will grow if they are promoted.
“Manufacturing will be a less significant part of the economy but they’ll still be around.” he added.
What Mr Tan Jee Say’s paper said about manufacturing
The transformation of Singapore into a services economy will not happen overnight. It is not realistic or fair to expect manufacturing firms to switch out into other economic sectors or to move out to other countries immediately. Assistance should be extended wherever possible to help them adjust. While existing incentives (subsidized factory rental, favourable allocation of foreign worker quotas, tax concessions) already granted should be allowed to run their course, no new incentives should be given. Neither should these manufacturing firms be forced out. They should be allowed to remain in Singapore if they can continue to survive and be profitable like any other business enterprises without depending on special favours from any state agency such as rent subsidy, tax incentives or special allocation of foreign worker quotas. In charting new directions for the economy, resources should be harnessed and channelled into promoting and developing the services sector.
Part 2: A National Regeneration Plan
Creating Jobs and Enterprise in a New Singapore Economy – Ideas for Change
You can read the full paper here
Scroll below to see more photos of the walkabout