The issue of discriminatory hiring practices in Singapore has once again come under the spotlight as the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Ho Ching, hits back at netizens who complained about unfair hiring practices and doxxed some of her employees.
Earlier on 5 August, it was reported that the Manpower Ministry (MOM) had placed 47 more companies on its Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) watchlist for suspected discriminatory hiring practices.
Consequently, posts highlighting the LinkedIn accounts of Temasek’s employees from India have been circulating on social media, questioning why the government-owned firm is filled with foreigners instead of locals.
Temasek then issued a statement on 14 August, indicating the posts as “divisive, racist campaign” and said that it contained “false claims”.
“Some of our colleagues from India have been targeted recently on social media by a divisive, racist campaign. This makes us very angry at the false claims perpetuated. The Singaporeans among us are also ashamed at such hateful behaviour on the Singapore social media,” it stated.
The investment firm claimed that Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents made up 90 per cent of its 600 Singapore staff, while the breakdown among its senior leadership – managing directors and above – was “broadly the same”.
“We have referred these posts to Facebook as in clear breach of their own community guidelines on hate speech, and will continue to press them to be more active in stamping out such hate speech, wherever it occurs on their platforms,” it added.
The Straits Times reported on 15 August that Facebook has reviewed and removed the posts but it did not specify the proportion of posts that have been taken down.
Following that, Madam Ho took to her Facebook on 16 August describing the posts as a “cowardly act of hate” as they were made based on “false claims”.
She wrote, “Is it acceptable to tarnish individuals, and dox them with photos and false claims? Nope, that is a cowardly act of hate”.
The Prime Minister’s wife said that people should make their complaints of unfair hiring through proper channels such as MOM, and back their complaints with facts instead of relying to “hearsay” or “speculations”.
“Is it acceptable to complain about unfair hiring practices? Sure it is, provided it is based on facts, and not hearsay and speculations. And let’s not yell unfair hiring, just bcos [because] we weren’t hired.
“And let’s not put up photos of innocent folks to dox them just bcos we don’t like their race or nationality, as a way to stir hate and hat[r]ed. If we have a grievance, go report to MOM, to the board of the company, or to their regulator,” she noted.
Madam Ho further asserted, “Better still, let’s reskill, upskill, to remain relevant in a fast changing world. Let’s not be fooled by anyone who tries to stir up racial biases that lurks beneath everyone of us”.
She highlighted that unfair hiring practices can happen at any time and anywhere, regardless of race, language or religion.
“We have an ideal to uphold – meritocracy regardless of race, language, or religion. Are Singaporeans all pure, innocent and just? Nope, we are not – we can be knowing or even unknowingly biased and prejudiced,” said Madam Ho.
Although Temasek in its statement revealed that local citizens and PRs made up 90 per cent of its 600 Singapore staff, and claimed that the breakdown among its senior leadership was “broadly the same”, it’s interesting to note that 48 per cent of its composition in the management level is being filled by foreigners.
This was highlighted by regular blogger, Phillip Ang, who shared an image of Temasek Holdings’ management team on his Facebook page on Sunday (16 Aug). He asked, “Do Singaporean PMETs have any hope when Temasek is managed by 48% foreigners?”
The image – which screenshots from Temasek’s official website – shows 29 members of the company’s management team, in which 14 of them are foreigners, or 48 per cent. It seems that the composition in its management level has tipped towards more foreigners as nearly half of its top executives are non-Singaporeans.
Compared to in 2011, the company’s senior management for Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund consisted of 43 people, in which 10 of them – or roughly 23 per cent – were foreigners, according to the annual Temasek Review. This includes managing directors of different departments and regions.
Netizens call for transparency from MOM to stop speculations
Meanwhile, some netizens commented on Madam Ho’s post noting that MOM should be “transparent” and disclose more details about discriminatory hiring issues in Singapore so people would stop making speculations.
One netizen asked the point of reporting unfair hiring cases to MOM as the Ministry practised “double standard”, adding that MOM’s investigation on the 47 companies under FCF is only a “cover-up”. He then questioned, “Isn’t it factual that we can hire Singaporeans for certain jobs in the banking sector, based on meritocracy?”
While some netizens replied to his comment noting that they receive “robotic reply” from MOM whenever they make any reports to the Ministry.