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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