On 1 June, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) released a public statement announcing that Singapore and India have "successfully" concluded the second review of the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
"Today, in the presence of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Loh Khum Yean, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore, and Mr Jawed Ashraf, Indian High Commissioner to Singapore, exchanged the Joint Statement on the conclusion of the CECA second review," MTI announced.
The new CECA enhancements include expanding tariff concessions for an additional 30 products and improving rules of origin to provide more flexibility for Singapore exports into India, MTI said.
However, MTI avoided mentioning the mutual recognition of nursing degrees and diplomas under the new enhanced CECA in the main section of its media release. Hidden in Annex A is a cryptic clause which said:
"Both countries have agreed to a Mutual Recognition Agreement on Nursing to facilitate better understanding of the Parties’ standards in regulating the training and practice of nursing."
MTI seems to say that the MRA signed is for the "facilitation" of having "better understanding" of nursing standards of both countries. It appears that MTI, currently under Chan Chun Sing, is trying to obfuscate and perhaps, "confuse" the public with regard to the objectives of the nursing MRA signed with India.
India more direct in announcing Singapore's recognition of nursing degrees from 7 of their institutions
Meanwhile, press statement from India's Ministry of Commerce & Industry is more direct and clearer in mentioning the objectives of signing the nursing MRA with Singapore.
The title of the press statement is quite specific. It said, "India Signs Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) in Nursing with Singapore."
The Indian press statement reads:
"India has signed the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) in Nursing with Singapore. This is the first MRA being signed by India with any of our FTA partners.
In a major gain for India, Singapore agreed to expand coverage of Indian nursing institutions by recognising seven nursing institutions in the MRA. This has paved way for our healthcare service providers to institutionally access markets abroad. It will further open up doors for India to enter into similar mutual recognition arrangements with other countries."
In other words, with Singapore recognizing some of the Indian nursing institutions, India hopes that the other first world countries would likewise start to accept their nurses graduating from these institutions too, thereby helping India to solve some of their unemployment problems.
But in the MTI's press statement, nothing was said about Singapore's recognition of the Indian nursing degrees from any of their institutions.
What is Chan Chun Sing, the potential future PM of Singapore afraid of by withholding such information from the Singaporean public? What do you think?