A member of the public, Ang Ah Lay, wrote to ST Forum on Tue (‘Forum: Full details of Singapore-India pact can clear misguided notions‘, 19 Nov) countering the accusations ST Editorial thrown at some Singaporeans last week, saying that “the spread of incorrect and misleading information” on policy issues through social media has the potential to harm Singapore’s social fabric (‘Distinguishing fact from fiction‘, Nov 13).
The editorial called for Singaporeans to “be able to distinguish fact from fiction”. It was referring to the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which was signed between both countries in 2005.
Mr Ang noted that for many months now, a deluge of information about CECA has been circulating online. Most, if not all, of the information condemned CECA as unfairly lopsided in favour of India, he observed.
“As a result, much vitriolic criticism has been directed at the Government,” he said. “While it is easy to implore the millions of ordinary Singaporeans to distinguish fact from fiction in relation to Ceca, the reality is they do not have the wherewithal to gather the facts and figures to make a well-informed judgment.”
And added, “Many Singaporeans are convinced that Ceca has enabled Indian nationals to steal their jobs.”
Mr Ang felt that Singaporeans cannot be faulted for feeling this way. He said, “To be fair, in the absence of information from reliable sources, Singaporeans cannot be faulted for their perception that Ceca has opened the floodgates for Indian nationals to come to our shores.”
“All they see is an overwhelming number of Indian nationals working in places like the Marina Bay Financial District and Changi Business Park, and living in certain residential districts like the East Coast,” he shared further.
Hence, Mr Ang opined that many Singaporeans are unlikely to accept the ST Editorial’s assertion that it is “untrue” CECA has helped Indian nationals take away their jobs.
Mr Ang countered that ST should publish a comprehensive report so that Singaporeans can better “understand CECA and be disabused of any misguided notions”.
“This report should account for, among other things, the presence of the large number of Indian nationals (including those who have acquired citizenship) in our midst and how such a number compares with that for other nationals,” Mr Ang told ST.
He also asked ST to present ‘a rational calculation of costs and benefits’ of CECA so that Singaporeans can be convinced that it is not against their interests.