Singapore’s alternative party, Progress Singapore Party (PSP) issued a statement on Thursday evening (1 July) to refute allegations put forth by Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on his Facebook page, where the minister claimed that PSP’s “false allegations” on Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) had made racist behaviours in Singapore worse.
Penned by its Secretary General, Mr Francis Yuen, the statement writes that the party is “bewildered by Mr Ong’s baseless allegations that we have contributed in no small part to the undercurrent of sentiment against immigrant Indians through PSP that CECA has given Indian PMETs a free hand to work here.”
It went on to state that Mr Ong’s statement is a serious allegation made without facts as to where and when such alleged false statements were made by PSP.
“Unless there is evidence to back his allegation, the minister should withdraw his statement and make an apology.” remarked PSP.
Health Minister and Manpower Minister to delivering Ministerial Statements on next Parliamentary sitting
Mr Ong in a Facebook post on Thursday (1 July), claimed that unhappiness towards Indian immigrants in Singapore is fuelled largely by false allegations made by PSP on how the CECA has allowed Indian professionals to come here easily for work.
Mr Ong said that while there are concerns about racist behaviours in Singapore that need to be addressed, but PSP’s “false allegations” on CECA had made it worse here.
“The recent two incidents of verbal and physical assaults on Indians were disturbing and not reflective of what Singaporeans are,” he said.
He added, “They occur amidst an undercurrent of sentiment against immigrant Indians over the past 2 years. There are concerns from Singaporeans that need to be addressed, but the unhappiness is also fuelled in no small part by false allegations by the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) about how the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) has given Indian PMEs a free hand to come here to work.”
The two recent racial incidents that Mr Ong was referring to are – the first is a senior lecture who verbally uttered racist remarks at an interracial couple, and the second is about an Indian woman who was verbally assaulted over her apparently incorrect face mask-wearing by a Singaporean.
In the post, Mr Ong said that during the last Parliament sitting in May this year, Law Minister K Shanmugam had urged PSP to file a motion to debate on Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and CECA in Parliament.
Given that PSP’s Non-constituency Member of Parliament, Leong Mun Wai has recently accepted Mr Shanmugam’s challenge to seek “further clarification” on foreign employment policies and CECA, Mr Ong said that he and Manpower Minister Dr Tan See Leng will be delivering Ministerial Statements regarding this matter at this month’s Parliament sitting.
“In the run up to the filing of PSP’s proposed motion, we have received many parliamentary questions on the matter, including many from PSP.
“To answer these questions, Dr Tan See Leng and I will be delivering Ministerial Statements at next week’s sitting – he as Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, and I as a former trade negotiator,” said Mr Ong.
The Health Minister went on to note that the duo will explain on how important FTAs are to Singaporeans and how they work. They will also be addressing the “false allegations” that FTAs permit foreign professionals a free hand to live and work in Singapore.
“We will also move to open our Ministerial Statements for debate. This will allow members of the PSP to respond to our statements if they wish to,” he concluded.
Leong Mun Wai calls upon Government to be more forthcoming with information on jobs situation
Mr Leong also wrote on his Facebook page, standing by the party’s position on Mr Ong’s allegations and call upon the Government to maintain civility in the sittings running up to the actual debate about the labour situation affecting displaced Singaporeans.
“We sincerely hope that our questions will be answered directly from the Ministerial Statement, and that the Government will be more forthcoming with information about the jobs situation. However, a Ministerial Statement alone is insufficient to debate the issues on Foreign Talent, FTAs and CECA thoroughly. As such, we will still file a Motion to debate on the subject in the near future.”
Below is the list of Parliamentary Questions that the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) have filed in preparation for the debate on Foreign PMETs, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
- To ask the Minister for Manpower for each year from 2005 to 2020, how many (i) Dependent Passes and (ii) Long Term Visit Passes have been issued to relatives of nationals from China, India, USA and Australia that are E-Pass or S-Pass holders respectively.
- To ask the Minister for Manpower for each year from 2005 to 2020 under Singapore’s Free Trade Agreements with China, India, USA and Australia, how many nationals from each respective country have entered Singapore and worked using the (i) intra-corporate transferee visa; (ii) professional visa; and (iii) dependent passes.
- To ask the Minister for Manpower (i) how many nationals from China, India, USA and Australia holding E-passes or S-passes are working in companies with fewer than 10 employees.
- To ask the Minister for Manpower for each year from 2005 to 2020, how many nationals from China, India, USA and Australia were issued (i) E-Passes; (ii) S-Passes; (iii) work permits (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers); and (iv) Letters of Consent respectively.
- To ask the Minister for Manpower (i) the proportions of nationals from China, India, USA, and Australia by industry; and (ii) what are the commonly held jobs by these nationals in each industry.
- To ask the Minister for Manpower for the breakdown of the number of E-Pass holders, S-Pass holders and work permit holders (excluding Foreign Domestic Workers) by industry as per the breakdown in Singapore Standard Industrial Classification 2015.
- To ask the Minister for Manpower (i) how many companies are currently on the Fair Consideration Framework Watch-list; and (ii) what are the criteria for putting a company on the Watch-list like the threshold percentage of its workforce from a single nationality.