A member of public wrote in to The Online Citizen stating the below,
"Happen to know that an Employment Agency, Reliable Link Services , a firm opened by PRC specialising in getting S Passes and Employment Passes numbering about 150 for the past few years ( According to the MOM Score Card) was under Surveillance by MOM for engaging unlicensed agents.
Conveniently, a new company, Reliable Link Pte Ltd, was set up in the similar premises this year under another PRC and have applied about 17 S Passes in less than 2 months.
S Passes and Employment Passes are jobs which pay $2200 and above which Singaporeans can do but sadly , the system has been breached and also once the agency is being under surveillance, another can pop up conveniently at the same premises without questions asked.
I am in the similar industry and a local Singaporean, but I feel that our industry has been undermined by others who has a different agenda from us. Regardless of the guidelines and regulations put in by MOM, sadly I can see a lot of local owners being forced out due to these breaches.
Hope you can publish the story and let the public decide."
Attached with the information were two screenshots of the companies in question.
The screenshots show that Reliable Link Services has 12 demerit points and placed under surveillance by Minister of Manpower (MOM) while the other company Reliable Link Pte. Ltd has no demerit points.
To verify the claim, TOC purchased the two companies' records from ACRA and found out that the companies were indeed based in the same location at People's Park Centre and that they are owned by the same two individuals. Reliable Link Services, a sole-proprietorship turned partnership, was opened in 2013 and the Reliable Link Pte. Ltd opened just this June 2017, both companies are registered as companies providing employment agency services (excluding maid agency's).
When called for a response, Mr Dai Jaidi, owner of both companies said that the two companies operate according to the guidelines and regulation dictated by MOM. Though admitting that the first company had been slapped with demerit points, Mr Dai said that MOM found no issues with them opening another company when he was asked to explain why a second company was opened and operated from the same location as the first company.
He initially said that a former employee went to open a company by his own, then further explained that a person wanted to join his company and therefore a new company was formed. But according to the ACRA records, that person, Ms Wen Fengduo, lives at the same address with Mr Dai. When confronted, he admits that Ms Wen is his wife but states that it does not matter and it is normal for his wife to want to open a company.
Mr Dai clarifies that his wife opened the company due to differences in how they run the company and said that his wife will move out of the office soon. However, he cannot explain why his name is listed as secretary for his wife's company. He insists that the two companies operate seperately from each other.
When prompted further for more information, the informer wrote that employment agencies operated by locals have to play by the rules and said "Any breaches mean end of story for us, but for foreigners or PR, they can always fall back to their native countries so when they start recruitment agencies, they tend to bend the rules in their favor."
The informer also noted that many employment agencies started by Permanent Residents from People's Republic of China (PRC) also only hire PRCs and place PRC on S Passes, with some are not getting the stipulated salary in their applications.
He wrote, "In this case, the key appointment holders are husband and wife so when husband’s agency got into trouble , the wife just open another one. If you can note their S passes and employment pass applications are higher than Work Permit Applications because they tend to get clients to apply for S pass and E pass when they don’t have work permit quotas. Local company owners will be more wary as it mean breaking the rules for them."
TOC asked Mr Dai if he could give a response to the comment that his company has an unusually high number of S pass and E pass placement, he accounted it to the hard work committed by the company to get the placements.
When asked if employment agencies will be penalised by MOM for offences, the informer wrote that it depends on what was the reason. He wrote,
There were times where workers faked their education certs or agency faked their certs or Application. Normally agencies will be called up by MOM if Employer or Employees note that to MOM and if found something, they will be given demerit points.
Normally for the PRC workers which you can see our coffee shops or many food establishments, they used S Pass and E Pass where their salary might only be $1200-$1600 which is way lower. Only PRC PR opened EAs dare to do all these applications. Normally it’s demerit points and when it accumulate to 12 then it will be under surveillance. Thereafter if reaches 24 , then the license will be revoked.
When asked for his comments on the matter, Gilbert Goh from Transitioning.org wrote, "Despite the checks and balances we have in our system, employment agencies are still able to exploit our weak lapses and use them to their benefit denying true-blue Singaporeans from having proper access to such jobs."
The Online Citizen wrote to the Ministry of Manpower seeking their response on the loophole of allowing business owners to open new employment agencies when they have other companies with demerit points on Thursday. It has not responded by time of publication.
Without MOM's input, it is hard to determine the actual nature of the agency's offence which resulted in its 12 demerit points but it should be clear from the information upfront that a new employment agency with no demerit points, was allowed to be opened by an individual who owns another employment agency which was placed under MOM's surveillance. In light of this fact, how can citizens be assured that errant employment agencies would not dare to risk demerit points if they can open another company in another name without repercussions?