Khush Chopra (left) , Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad (Right)

Khush Chopra: Singapore’s strong stance against favouring foreigners and CECA

Will employment pass requirements be tightened or made more flexible?

by Khush Chopra

Mr Saktiandi Supaat, a People’s Action Party Member of Parliament asked for eligibility criteria for employment pass (EP) holders be tightened in Parliament yesterday.

He said:

“We cannot continue to have the inflow of foreign specialists in perpetuity without regard for the well-being of our Singapore core.”

In response, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State for Manpower and National Development said that strong stance against favouring foreigners for employment has not gone unnoticed and noted locals continue to hold the majority of jobs that companies could hire EP holders to undertake.

He said, “But the ministry will study Mr Saktiandi’s suggestion on expanding on the scheme to see how else local workers can benefit”. Whatever that doublespeak means.

The Minister of State also warned that the Global Competitiveness Ranking released by the World Economic Forum in October, a global index that ranked Singapore as the world’s most competitive economy also highlighted the difficulties bosses face when trying to hire foreign labour where we ranked 93 out of 141 economies on the ease of employing staff from overseas without clarifying whether the report refers to employment pass or work permit holders for labour-intensive companies such as those in the manufacturing and service sectors.

This is disingenuous as it almost seems as if Singapore is one of the most difficult places for foreign talent PMET’s to find jobs in when all of us know that this is simply untrue.

Instead, note the report about the easing of our foreign labour stance for service, manufacturing firms again appearing to conflate employment pass holders and work permit holders without clarifying which type of foreign talent the easing would apply to:

“The Economic Development Board and Enterprise Singapore said in July this year that it will allow for more flexible requirements for foreign professionals looking to apply for an employment pass (EP) to work in technology companies here in a move to grow the sector.”

While appearing defiant about how apparently difficult it is for foreigners to get jobs here, they suggest Singapore must consider easing of our foreign labour stance.

So which is it, tighten or easing?; “cannot continue to have the inflow of foreign specialists in perpetuity” or easing of our foreign labour stance?

They cannot be allowed to sing both songs or talk from both sides of their mouths.

Why ask vaguely for eligibility criteria for employment pass (EP) holders be tightened and then get an even more vague and unsatisfactory reply as to studying how to EXPAND on the employment pass scheme?

The $1.5 million dollar question to ask that was not asked is this: if the country’s strong stance against favouring foreigners for employment has not gone unnoticed, why has the CECA agreement not been tabled for debate and repudiation in Parliament?

This is the People’s agenda and the will of the people on the foreigner issue having been acknowledged in Parliament must be acceded to.

This was first published on Mr Chopra’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.