On ST Forum today, a member of the public Mr Anthony Leong advocated that key human resource positions in companies in Singapore should be held by Singaporeans.
“Any critical department of an organisation that has a high concentration of foreigners of one nationality – say, more than 50 per cent – opens itself to risk of potential bias,” Mr Leong said.
“For a company to have foreign nationals from the same country comprise a vast majority of its professional, manager, executive and technician (PMET) workforce would border on negligence.”
He argued that it’s important for any vital departments within an organisation be staffed by a majority of Singaporeans and added, “If that is not possible, then it should have no more than 30 per cent of any one foreign nationality.”
Diversity is strength, and an over-dependence on any one group is a weakness, he noted.
Hence, to ensure that Singaporeans are given a fair shot at a job being advertised, Mr Leong proposed that key positions within the human resource department in companies should be mandatory held by Singaporeans.
He further argued, “The tolerant and harmonious nature of our multiracial, multi-religious society is what attracted foreigners and foreign corporations to Singapore’s shores in the first place. It is a delicate balance that should not be upset, or it will cause distress in our society and that would in turn affect foreigners negatively.”
HR team based overseas
In one instance, an entire HR team of a company wasn’t even based in Singapore.
In Jan this year, it was reported that a number of companies were charged by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) for circumventing the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) of Singapore.
One of them was solar equipment manufacturer Meyer Burger, which was found to have pre-selected a foreign Employment Pass applicant and failed to interview any of the Singaporean applicants who had responded to its Jobs Bank advertisement for a process engineer position.
The firm’s human resources team, which is not based in Singapore, interviewed a foreign applicant and found him “suitable” for the position in Singapore. However, upon investigation by MOM, the foreigner was found to be not able to meet those criteria specified in the Jobs Bank advertisement. Meyer Burger went ahead attempting to hire the foreigner nevertheless.
MOM noted that while firms are free to locate their HR functions overseas, they must be fully compliant with Singapore’s laws and FCF requirements.
The ignorance of the HR team overseas is not a mitigating factor, MOM said.