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Source : en.wikipedia.org

MOM: No loophole in Employment Agency framework

Minister of Manpower (MOM) states that there is no loophole in its Employment Agency (EA) framework and the allegations stated in the story posted by The Online Citizen (TOC) on 29 September are untrue.

Following a tipoff from a whistleblower, TOC reported that two employment agencies at People's Park Centre were operated by a couple, with one of the EAs being awarded with 12 demerit points and placed under MOM's surveillance. It is questioned if EAs can evade MOM's surveillance with such means.

The Minister of Manpower wrote in a Facebook note,

The Online Citizen wrote that Reliable Link Services, an employment agency (EA) currently under MOM’s surveillance, was allowed to set up a new EA in the same premises. The allegation in the article that there is a loophole in MOM’s EA framework is untrue.

Reliable Link Services had served out the penalties and is allowed to operate

Reliable Link Services was fined for engaging the services of an unlicensed agent in 2016 and was taken to task by MOM. Among the penalties meted out, it was issued 12 demerit points and placed under MOM’s surveillance. Mr Dai Jiadi, its Key Appointment Holder, had to re-take and pass the Certificate of Employment Intermediaries exam. The EA was allowed to continue operation with these conditions met.

Reliable Link Services and the second EA are separate legal entities

Mr Dai’s wife, Wen Fengduo, applied for an EA licence. Her EA met all licensing criteria and was granted the licence to operate. While her EA operates from the same location as Mr Dai, it is a separate legal entity and does not have a common director or staff performing employment agency work with Reliable Link Services. This was also confirmed when MOM inspected Ms Wen’s EA recently.

More than one EA may be allowed to operate at the same address, with conditions

EAs may apply to operate at the same address as other EAs for business reasons. Such applications may be allowed on a case-by-case basis, subject to conditions. For example, EAs must ensure there is no misrepresentation or cross-deployment of personnel between the EAs. We will also inspect the EAs to ensure strict compliance.

MOM will take action against errant EAs if there is evidence of any breach of laws. Members of the public who have any information on errant EA practices should report the matter to MOM at [email protected] or call 6438 5122. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Response by TOC
TOC's position on the matter is not that the couple have committed an offence for opening another EA but it is clear that the original EA had demerit points awarded to it and is placed under MOM surveillance for the year 2016-2017. At the same time, a new company with a similar name was opened by the wife of the original EA's director and operating out from the same location.

We asked why was there a new company opened at the same premises and under the name of his wife when there is already an operating EA in the same premises. Mr Dai's reply was that his wife had differences in how the EA is operated and wanted to operate her own company. His original reply to TOC was that his employee had differences in how to run the company and left the company, which resulted in the demerit points. He also claimed that someone was interested to open a company with him and did not reveal that the person was his wife.

Then we asked, if there are differences in how the original EA was operated, then why did the wife enter the original EA as a director? Also under the ACRA records, Mr Dai is registered as a Secretary in the newly created company.

The information from ACRA shows a different picture from what MOM claims in their reply that the two EAs had no connection.

According to MOM's own EA portal, one can see that there is no additional S-Pass, E-Pass or Work Permit processed by the original EA, however the new company that has operated less than two months have had new passes processed. Is the wife's new company performing better than the one her husband founded four years ago?

As Mr Dai insisted that the two companies had nothing to do in common, we asked why then was the two companies so similar to each other, given that he explained that his wife's company will be moving out soon and had nothing to do with his company. Mr Dai explained saying that there was not much thought given when the new company was named.

As seen above, TOC had raised several questions to Mr Dai who claims that everything his company is doing is legal and in compliance to MOM regulations and guidelines. However, Mr Dai's answers do not seem to answer the legit questions surrounding his reasons of creating the new company.

Questions remain after MOM's statement

In response to MOM's statement, the whistleblower who raised the matter to TOC had the following comments:
1) separate legal entity but under the same name? This is just an ‘continuation’ of their business or procedures. Why did MOM left out their names and do not let the public decide

2) Not Common Directors or key personnel but both of them are husband and wife and were operating Reliable Link Services until one jump out due to breaches and opened another one. Seems a bit too convenient.

3) No similar or misrepresentation within same premises , how would it be possible with 2 companies with the same name operating the same kind of business within a single premise.
Also for Employment Agencies, which are bringing foreigners to Singapore, why would PRs able to operate it ? How does MOM assure that PRs are not doing it to facilitate their fellow countrymen to find jobs in Singapore? Like Taxi Driver License, it should be reserved for Singaporeans only in order to preserve that the best jobs still goes to fellow Singaporeans.