Speaking at the “East Coast Conversation” virtual event yesterday (23 Aug), Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is also an Member of Parliament for East Coast GRC, acknowledged that some Singaporeans may feel there are too many foreigners residing in Singapore.
He cited residents’ concerns about the large number of expatriates at Changi Business Park – which is part of East Coast GRC.
He explained that Singapore was still growing expertise in certain sectors, and that Singapore was facing a shortage of manpower in technology and in risk management areas.
But he denied that bilateral agreements Singapore signed with other countries have jeopardised employment opportunities for Singaporeans. In fact, they have opened doors to better jobs.
Responding to criticisms about how comprehensive economic cooperation agreements (CECA) had caused Singapore to “sign away important protection for Singaporean (jobs)”, Heng said that such statements were totally false.
“In fact, what we are doing is to ensure that it creates better jobs for Singaporeans,” he said.
He stressed that the agreements do not mean that Singapore was negotiating away its rights to determine who becomes a citizen or a permanent resident here, or who gets awarded an employment pass. It’s Singapore’s sovereign right to decide, he said.
He assured that the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) will take action against companies which have discriminatory hiring practices.
High concentration of PMETs from single nationalities
Earlier this month (5 Aug), Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had placed another 47 companies with suspected discriminatory hiring practices on its FCF watchlist.
Of the 47 companies, 30 (64 per cent) are in the financial and professional services sectors. They include banks, fund management firms, management consulting companies, as well as firms that provide project management and engineering services.
MOM said that all 30 of the financial and professional services employers have a “high concentration of PMETs from single nationalities”.
In one financial institution in the fund management industry, almost three-quarters of their PMETs are of the same nationality and in another bank, almost two-thirds of the PMETs are also of the same nationality, MOM revealed.
Banks interviewed by the media, on the other hand, maintained that a large majority of their employees are locals, which include both Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) (‘Banks say large majority of their employees are “locals”‘).