In what appears to be a display of a continuing disconnect between the general populace and the ruling Peoples’ Action Party (PAP), Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing has said that Singapore will continue to bring in foreign talent “in a calibrated manner” as we have always done, to create more opportunities for Singapore and Singaporeans.
In saying this, is Chan wilfully missing the point?
Singaporeans have never been against foreigners working in Singapore. What Singaporeans are against however, are hiring processes that permit foreigners to take up jobs that Singaporeans who have similar skill sets can fulfil at the expense of the Singaporean.The question therefore is not whether there should be foreigners working in Singapore but rather how that calibration is done.
This is a question that the Government has so far failed to adequately tackle.
Is Chan being deliberately obtuse?
Chan has attempted to reassure Singaporeans by saying:
“Let me be clear. We want the world’s best and brightest to be with Team Singapore – to augment our skills and capabilities, competing on our side rather than against us, and ultimately, to benefit Singaporeans, not to substitute or to hurt them,”
Yet, how is the Government achieving this?
It has so far failed to provide any specific data on how such foreigners are being brought in to augment Singaporean workers. Instead, it would appear that the foreigners brought in have put Singaporeans on the back foot with ex and current bankers stating publicly that Singaporeans have been discriminated against.
If Chan is serious about calibration, why is it that the Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo resisting quotas for Employment Pass holders? After all, wouldn’t a quota help the Government be focused on getting “quality rather than quantity”? If companies know that there will only be a finite number of EPs issued, wouldn’t they be far more selective in who they choose to hire?
The Government has said that scrutinising more companies under the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) watch list will help ensure that hiring processes are fair. Yet, Teo has refused to reveal the names on this list.
Given that the watch list is meant to be a counter measure against unfair hiring practices, its relatively anonymity seems incongruous with its desired objective. Surely the companies on that watch list would be more mindful of who they hire if they knew that the public were watching? Wouldn’t publicity ensure more compliance to avoid public backlash and bad press?
What is the “calibrated manner” that Chan is talking about?