Earlier this month (9 Nov), Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing warned people not to “stoke fears” online with regard to the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which was signed between both countries in 2005.
He said claims that CECA has cost job opportunities for Singaporeans are aimed to “stoke fears” in times of economic uncertainties. CECA does not grant Indian nationals unconditional access into Singapore or immigration privileges, he added.
“Indian professionals, like any other professionals from other countries, have to meet MOM’s (Ministry of Manpower’s) existing qualifying criteria to work in Singapore. This applies to Employment Pass, S Pass, and work permit,” he said.
Contrary to claims that Singaporeans have lost out on PMET jobs, Chan pointed out that Singapore’s network of FTAs has in fact increased these jobs by 400,000 to 1.25 million since 2005, although he didn’t specifically reveal the number of jobs created due to CECA.
While Chan warned people not to “stoke fears”, he however, acknowledged that economic uncertainties have created anxieties over job security. He asserted that perpetuating fear, is not the right response.
“We understand, and we share Singaporeans’ concerns with competition and job prospects in the current uncertain economic environment. But the way to help Singaporeans is not to mislead them and create fear and anger,” said Chan.
“The way to help Singaporeans is to make sure that first, we expand our markets for our enterprises. Train our workers constantly to stay ahead of competition. Never allow others to stoke the fears and racial biases of our people. Never do this for selfish personal or political reasons.”
Number of foreign PMETs continues to increase in Singapore
Meanwhile, the Singapore government continues to allow more foreign PMETs to enter into Singapore to work, according to data on MOM website:
The total number of foreign EP and S-Pass holders was 381,300 by end of 2018. In fact, 6 months later by end June 2019, that number had increased to 386,800.
This is in line with its Population White Paper (PWP) policy which was passed in Feb 2013 where the government set a target of introducing 30,000 new permanent residents and 25,000 naturalized citizens each year to sustain Singapore’s population due to the falling birth rates in Singapore.
While the target set in the PWP was 6.9 million, DPM Heng, the designated new 4G leader who would take over from PM Lee, favours a 10 million population for Singapore.
In March this year at a ministerial dialogue at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Heng told the students that Singaporeans need to be open to foreigners. He said, “We ought to deepen our understanding of other people… whether they are new immigrants, our immediate neighbors, students from NTU, National University of Singapore or other universities.”
Heng then told the audience that Singapore’s population density is not excessive, noting that other cities are even more crowded and dense. He went on to cite former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, who said in 2014 that Singapore should plan for 10 million people for it to remain sustainable in the long term.