When Ministers contradict each other on jobs, who are we to trust and listen to?

When Ministers contradict each other on jobs, who are we to trust and listen to?

by Augustine Low

Early this month, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo cried in Parliament as she spoke of the pain and plight of workers who are going through job losses and job insecurity.

She pledged: “Please know that you too are always in our hearts. However long this storm lasts, MOM will walk the journey together with you. However tough it may be, we will help you bounce back.”

But along came Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing who said Singaporeans need not worry because the country will not run out of jobs, there are more jobs than workers.

He cited the astounding figure of 3.5 million jobs available in this country for the 2.5 million working population.

The two are distinctly different – one acknowledged the gloomy picture and even cried about it, the other was full of bluster and bravado and waved away all worries.

Then we have Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Chairman of the National Jobs Council, who told Singaporeans to be “realistic” because uncertainties in the global economy means “we will have far fewer new job openings than jobs being lost – over the next year, and beyond that if we are unlucky.”

SM Tharman at least conceded that there will be more job losses than job openings.

These are three of the people tasked with creating jobs and protecting the livelihoods of Singaporeans.

There’s the teary Minister Josephine Teo who says she feels the pain of workers and pledges to help those who are suffering to bounce back.

SM Tharman’s position is closer to hers when he tells Singaporeans to be realistic – job losses will exceed job openings.

But Minister Chan Chun Sing goes for broke – no need to worry, there are 3.5 million jobs for 2.5 million Singaporeans!

Surely they cannot all be right.

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