by Augustine Low
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing has said he doesn’t mince words when presenting hard truths.
The problem is that for someone who prides himself on telling hard truths, Minister Chan has been indulging in tall tales and platitudes about so-called foreign talents.
His favourite tale is one he has been spinning time and again – the latest just three days ago when he spoke of getting foreign talents to “join Team Singapore in order for us to excel against our competitors.”
Previously, he put it in even more colourful fashion: “The real competition is Team Singapore, comprising Singaporeans, PRs and foreign workers here, competing with the rest of the world to give our fellow Singaporeans the best chance possible to win, not just in Singapore but across the entire globe.”
Does Minister Chan need to be reminded of Goal 2010? It was a grand vision of bringing in foreign talents to help Singapore qualify for the World Cup. That vision turned out to be a pipe dream which fizzled out before it even got started!
Let’s take a step back and ask ourselves: why do Singaporeans go overseas to work?
We do so for international exposure and to capitalise on opportunities, and almost always for a bigger paycheck.
Likewise, foreigners come here for pretty much the same reasons – more exposure! better opportunities! more money! No need to pretend otherwise.
By contrast, hard truths are what we got from Johor’s Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad last week when he said that 100,000 Malaysians may lose their jobs if the two land border crossings with Singapore are not reopened soon.
He admitted that the economy of Johor has been badly hit and the Johor state government is not capable of securing employment for Malaysians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least the Menteri Besar is being honest about it – Malaysians desperately need jobs in Singapore. No beating around the bush.
Minister Chan should spare us tall tales about heroic foreigners being part of Team Singapore, and how Singaporeans must appreciate that we are better off having them compete for us than against us.
Whatever skills and expertise they possess, their aim is pure and simple: to seek greener pastures and make money. PR and citizenship are an added bonus for many.
Politicians who want to play spin doctors are in the wrong profession.