The Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo’s announcement yesterday that the government will be giving S$50 per night for 14 nights for each worker affected by the lockdown in Malaysia has stirred up some dissatisfaction among Singaporeans.
In particular, many are angered by the idea that the government is channelling taxpayers money towards foreign workers.
However, one commenter on a Mothership.sg Facebook post, Mr Gerald Loh, noted that the money is actually going to help the companies, not the individual workers. He said, “So all in all, the money spent are still circulating in our own economy.”
However, not everyone is happy with that explanation.
In response to Mr Goh, David Chew listed the concerns he had with the government’s move. He started by saying that it is not about the government giving S$50 per night for reach employee, but rather that the Singapore government has to step in and provide assistance to these foreign workers because of the ‘lockdown’ in their own country.
He remarked, “This tell me that Malaysians are indispensable. If one day Malaysia order all Malaysians to return to home, will Singapore economy fall? What about other nationalities working in Singapore?”
“This [proves] that Singapore Government are not controlling well enough and now majorly of our Singapore economy replies on foreign employees,” he added.
Mr Chew then asked why Singapore isn’t using their own resources like employing unemployed Singaporeans for these jobs. He questioned, “You mean our unemployed Singaporeans don’t want white collar positions in healthcare, security, cleaning, waste management and other essential services in Singapore that are currently held by Foreigners?”
Moving on to blue-collar jobs like security officers (SO), Mr Chew questioned how many educated Singaporeans with degrees would end up becoming SOs if they can’t find a white-collar job. Answering his own question, he said many would.
He added, “Not willing does not mean the workforce don’t have Singaporeans working in those occupations.”
Finally, coming to the situation at hand with the Malaysian lockdown and its effects on bus drivers in Singapore, Mr Chew pointed out that national servicemen can be deployed up to 40 days per year, or for an unlimited amount of time during an emergency.
Hence, he suggested, “If I am representing Singapore Government to address only Malaysian bus drivers case, I will plan to activate all transport vocations like Driver from SAF, SPF & SCDF to be bus drivers in absent of Malaysians.”
He continued, “And in the mean time, I will prepare other non-transport vocation NSmen for 1 month ‘special integrated Class 3 & 4A driving course’ in the event of state of emergency in coming months.”
Mr Chew lamented, “Singapore Government has their own resources like Singaporeans especially unemployed but it seem like Singapore Government rather let them rot then using them.”
Another reply to Mr Loh’s comment was by Frankie Lee who suggested that maybe companies could co-share the cost of this initiative with the government. He asserted, “Let them learn that hiring non Singaporeans comes at a risk as well.”
Mr Lee also asked why the government is helping big multinational companies, developers, and SMRT which have made millions in profit and are likely able to foot the bill themselves instead of helping smaller companies.
Similarly, Melvin Tong, voiced the same concerns, hinting that “companies are rewarded for failing to employ Singaporeans”.
He also asked about the government’s calculation and reason for setting the amount at S$50 per worker per night, requesting for a breakdown.