New NMP clarifies misunderstanding over 2012 dishwasher fiasco

Douglas Foo, chairman of Sakae Holdings and President of Singapore Manufacturing Federation

Back in 2012, Sakae Sushi founder Douglass Foo found himself in the spotlight after making a comment about the difficulties of finding a dishwasher even after offering a salary of S$3,000 per month. There was controversy about the details of the employment which led to an uproar from the public.

When asked about this in an interview with The Online Citizen, the Nominated Member of Parliament who will be sworn-in this coming Monday, said that his statement was taken out of context.

Mr Foo, who is also the president of the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, said that he was speaking at a panel about workforce challenges when he shared his own experience in his organisation of paying S$3,000 to an agency who hires a dishwasher for them. He added that he would prefer to pay the worker directly instead of going through a middle man.

“When I look at it, I said that’s real hard work. I would love to pay them directly,” he said. He continued on to say that he has proposed to his colleague that they simply try to hire a worker and pay them the budgeted S$3,000 directly so that all the benefits can also go to the person who is putting in the hard work.

Essentially, it wasn’t a complaint that Sakae couldn’t find people do to the job but a comment on the redundancy of using an agency when they can simply hire someone directly.

“I would think that I don’t mind doing the scheduling, do the hard work. But the guy who is working hard gets the full benefits. That’s the intent. Because my heart goes out to them.” Mr Foo said.

Back in 2012,  the median monthly pay for dishwashers is $930.

When asked about the difficulties of hiring locals to do tedious jobs, Mr Foo said that he didn’t think blue and white collar jobs should be defined as such. He emphasised that people should focus on doing work that is meaningful to them and finding a job that is in line with their own capabilities.

Underlining the importance of an agile workforce, Mr Foo talked about the extremely fast pace at which the economy is changing and therefore the type of jobs the economy is creating. “Today we’re seeing a transition phase to the new economy. If you look 20-30 years ago, how things are being done is changing very rapidly. And the pace and rate of change is going to be even faster.”  He says that people should be aware of the work that they undertake and continue to build on their own capabilities in order to stay relevant in a new and changing economy.

“I think that’s where one has to really subscribe to lifelong learning and see how the world is evolving so rapidly. Because it’s not going to wait.”

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