On Sunday (23 Aug), Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Finance Minister Heng Sweet Keat said that bilateral agreements such as the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between Singapore and India do not take jobs away from Singaporeans.
Following his statement, Peoples Voice chief Lim Tean questioned if Mr Heng ever met local Singaporeans who were retrenched at their jobs. Mr Lim even challenged Mr Heng to a debate, demanding the DPM for an explanation.
On his Facebook post, he asked Mr Heng for an explanation on the “overwhelming” number of Indian nationals at Changi Business Park, which is located in East Coast GRC where Mr Heng is representing.
“If Heng Swee Keat does not want to debate, perhaps he can explain to Singaporeans why when one walks into Changi Business Park, which is located in his East Coast GRC, you are met with Indian nationals in such overwhelming numbers that you would be forgiven to think that you are in India! Many Singaporeans have nicknamed the place Chennai Business Park.”
Mr Lim was referring to a comment from a Facebook Live discussion titled ‘East Coast Conversations’, stating that there were a lot of CECA expatriates at East Coast – such as Changi Business Park – and that local Singaporeans feel like “third-class citizens” there.
After the comment, a question from an online audience asked Mr Heng to share the real concerns and reasonings behind the job issues that local Singaporeans are facing.
Noting that signing bilateral agreements was to “create a better life” and “better jobs” for Singaporeans, Mr Heng refuted that the sighting of “overwhelming” number of foreign workers was “not related to CECA”. Instead, he expressed that it was due to “bad employment practices”.
He added that Singaporeans should “feel assured”, adding that there are “proper channels” for the Government to monitor this situation and how they could “take actions” when companies failed to comply with the rules.
Mr Heng went on to say that Singapore is experiencing “shortages” in areas such as technology and risk management.
Meanwhile, Mr Lim, in his post, revealed that he had personal experiences of hearing “heartbreaking stories” on taxis and PHVs where the drivers were retrenched at their “good-paying jobs” and that they “lost their jobs to foreigners”.
Has he taken taxis and PHVs and heard the heartbreaking stories from many Drivers of how they once had good paying jobs but were retrenched and lost their jobs to foreigners? I have.
Hence, he called on Mr Heng to explain the why 48 per cent of the foreigners who work in Singapore are S-Pass and Employment Pass holders. This percentage did not include the Foreign Domestic Workers and the Construction Workers.
It was also reported that there are almost 400,000 foreign S-Pass and Employment Pass holders in Singapore currently.
“Can he explain to Singaporeans why outside of the Foreign Domestic Workers and Construction Workers, around 48% of the foreigners who work in Singapore are S-Pass and Employment pass holders? These foreign S-Pass and Employment Pass holders now number almost 400,000.”
Mr Lim further questioned if Mr Heng has personally heard from the young people in the recent General Election, given that a number of fresh graduates have been jobless for months or even years.
Did Heng Swee Keat hear personally from young voters in the recent GE,of how many of them are still jobless many months and some even several years after they graduated? I did.
Besides calling for CECA to be abolished, the PV chief also pledged for Singaporeans to regain their dignity, future, and country.