Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Double Standards From The Government?

We have seen the continuous efforts from the government telling Singaporeans the need to get their skills upgraded in this ever competitive landscape. On one hand, we have been told that when we upgrade our skill-sets, opportunities will be plentiful. On the other hand, the government opens the flood gate in issuing work permits and PR status, thus creating competition for Singaporeans. I think the agencies in question need to sit down to look into this seriously. What are the priorities?
What is more important? Getting more ‘would be Singaporeans’ to join us to boost our GDP or helping real ‘authentic’ Singaporeans find jobs? It seems that the government is interested in getting quick fixes. I have seen reports saying we need to have foreign talents so that MNCs would be more interested in setting up operations and investing in Singapore. Let’s not forget that the Government’s responsibility is to take care of its people first. What’s the point of having investments in the pipeline when there are real Singaporeans suffering and can’t wait to end their lives. We have heard of the $500,000 MRT ride.
We have also not seen the actual breakdown of jobs that was really offered to Singaporeans as MOM has a way of including PRs as Singaporeans. Perhaps more could be researched onto how long a PR actually stays in Singapore before they leave the country and how many of these PRs actually commit themselves and become a Singaporean.

I want to make a clear distinction between foreign talents and foreign workers. Not all foreign workers are really talented and thanks for the excellent branding our government gives them. We have just inadvertently told the world that we’re not good enough. Try telling that to the South Koreans, a country that treasures their local talents and have made huge leaps of progress without jeopardizing welfare and jobs by opening up the flood gates via a foreign talent policy.

Living standards are rising by the day but it seems that salaries have not increased much to match inflation. What’s the reason for that? The influx of foreign talents is the root cause of it. We should welcome the foreign talents but not ‘over embracing’ them. Can you tell me which employer would not like to have lower paying salaried workers? By having an over supply of low-wage workers, it is just Economics 101. The salaries will either maintain or go down. This situation worsens when we have more supply. Take a look at Old Chang Kee and you will see workers of different nationalities. When there are too much foreign entry level workers and not enough jobs, we create other social problems. Crime rates go up but at whose expense? Just take a look at Little India and you will realize that it can get really rowdy at times.

How about the mid-tier jobs? You have slogged through 16 years of studying only to realize that there are literally thousands of foreign workers vying for the same job. With that ratio, it is hardly surprising that all the good jobs would have already been taken up. In India alone, there are 400,000 computer science graduates every year. How about China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam? By making Singapore a haven, the situation is only going to get worse. We need to ask ourselves when the authorities will say enough is enough and put a stop to that. Until we hit a population of 7 or 8 Million people? What are the jobs left then? Jobs like Retail, Customer Service, Receptionist, Insurance / Property Agents? You don’t study 16 years to do that.

Let’s not forget our roots and create a Singaporean for Singapore society.


Edmund Ng,
CEO, President
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