President Halimah Yacob said in Parliament yesterday (24 Aug) that the issue of work pass holders competing with Singaporeans for jobs will be addressed as it has become a “major source of anxiety” and potentially become “a divisive issue”.
Job competition between foreigners and Singaporeans has been the subject of debate lately, after it was reported on 5 August that the Manpower Ministry (MOM) had placed another 47 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 were circulated on social media, questioning why the government-owned firm is filled with foreigners instead of locals. Temasek indicated the posts as “divisive, racist campaign” and claimed that it was made based on “false claims”.
Speaking at the opening of Singapore’s 14th Parliament, Madam Halimah noted that the competition for jobs from work pass holders has become a “potentially divisive issue closely connected to Singaporean identity”.
“This has become a major source of anxiety, especially among mid-career Singaporeans. We understand these concerns. They not only touch on matters of livelihood, but also on our sense of identity and belonging. They will be addressed,” she noted.
As the master of their own land, Singaporeans must have confidence in the rights and privileges of citizenship, said Madam Halimah, adding that the interests of Singaporeans are “always paramount” in all that the Government does.
“We will work with employers to further strengthen the capabilities of our workforce in every field, and ensure that firms treat Singaporeans fairly when they recruit or retrench workers,” she stated.
“In all that we do, the interests of Singaporeans are always paramount.”
However, Madam Halimah believes that Singapore must not turn inwards and away from the world. She added that the city-state “should continue to welcome and integrate those who can contribute to Singapore” and improve the lives of Singaporeans.
Noting that multiracialism will always be a “core element” of the Singaporean identity, she urged Singaporeans to listen and to try to understand one another as more meaningful discussions are opened up on the issue.
“We must strive to obtain greater insight, build shared understanding and use our diverse perspectives and ideas to achieve better outcomes for all,” said Madam Halimah.
Netizens demand actions instead of explanations from the Govt
Despite Madam Halimah has given the assurance that the issue of jobs competition from work pass holders will be addressed by the authorities, many netizens are still not convinced.
Penning their thoughts under the comment section of Mothership.sg‘s and The Straits Times’ Facebook posts – which covered the President’s remarks in Parliament yesterday – many netizens called for actions from the Government to resolve the issue as they hardly convinced by her assurance.
Some netizens commented that Madam Halimah should direct her speech to the Ministry of Manpower to resolve the issue, instead of telling it to the public.
While others – who penned their comments on Channels News Asia’s post – asked why the Government only realized about the issue now, when it has been happening for awhile.
Meanwhile, several netizens urged the Government to remove its Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) – a free trade agreement between Singapore and India to strengthen bilateral trade – as they opined that Singaporeans are not benefitting from the CECA.