In an interview with CNA on Monday (11 Nov), Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said that it’s critical for Singapore to send a “positive signal” to the world in the next GE.
A “strong, stable coherent political system” is needed to inspire confidence in the economy, he said. It would also allow Singapore to attract “strong economic investments, creation of good jobs, helping everybody move along amidst all the disruption, and this will allow us to support a strong political system, and a virtual cycle continues to spiral upwards.”
“You can’t give confidence to the investors, to make long term investments, the new jobs, the quality jobs are not created, society fragments, incomes stagnate, people get divided between the haves and the have nots, inequality increases, social immobility increases and then it leads to a negative feedback onto the political system,” he said.
“People vote for populist leaders who promise them easy solutions, people vote in a parliament that is divided and fractured, and that negative cycle continues to spiral downwards.”
And added, “It is critical in the next election for us to send that positive signal not just to ourselves but to the rest of the world, that we can easily go on an upward spiral and pull apart from the competition.”
He warned that a fractured political system will emerge without strong economic performance, strong investments and good jobs, even though many of the first world’s economies today have survived well with pluralism in their Parliamentary politics, with diversity in views to prevent “group thinking” inside their Parliaments.
Continuing, Chan said that the first order of business is to give PAP a strong mandate, “The first order of business in order to distinguish ourselves is to ensure we have a strong mandate that can signal to the international community that we are here for the long haul, that we mean business, we are coherent, we will execute and deliver on what we promise”
He further warned that Singapore will be “done for” if the society is no longer cohesive and Singaporeans vote for a political system that is “unable to reconcile their differences and move forward”, he noted that Singapore can be “easily torn apart”.
Meanwhile, Indian software companies which invested in Singapore like those in Changi Business Park have been creating jobs for their own nationals with few Singaporeans being hired. With complaints from Singaporeans mounting, the situation became so bad that the Singapore government had to step in to “communicate” with the companies to hire more locals.
Times of India reported two years ago (‘Singapore blocks visas for Indian IT professionals‘) that work visas for Indian IT professionals to work in Singapore have dropped “to a trickle”. It even prompted the Indian government to complain to Singaporean government citing violation of the trade pact. Some of the Indian IT companies that were reported to be affected include: HCL, TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant and L&T Infotech.
“This (visa problem) has been lingering for a while but since early-2016, visas are down to a trickle. All Indian companies have received communication on fair consideration, which basically means hiring local people,” the president of Nasscom, the IT association of India, complained.
As can be seen, getting more foreign investments into Singapore does not mean more good jobs will necessarily be created for Singaporeans. It does not make sense for Singapore to endorse a foreign company investing in Singapore just to hire the bulk of their staff from outside Singapore but leave the menial job positions like cleaners and security guards to Singaporeans.