Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The New Game In Town

The total workforce in Singapore comprises 2.1 million residents (citizens and PRs) and 1.1 million foreigners. Labour economist Hui of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy deduces that the overall jobless rate is about about one third less than the official resident unemployment rate of 3.0% as of June 2011, (i.e. 2%), since all foreigners have jobs. But how did 1/3 of the jobs available in Singapore end up going to foreigners?

Minister of State Tan Chuan-Jin knew the answer in hi sheart when one CEO accused of hiring too many foreigners disclosed his company's workforce figures which, in Tan's own words, "didn't make very good reading" for a company based here."

Yet when Mr Yeap of the Singapore Shell Employees' Union pointed out that Singaporeans were retrenched while foreigners kept their jobs during the downturns of 1986 and 1998, Tan, now sitting on the same side as Lim Swee Say and SNEF president Stephen Lee, challenged Yeap if that was a fact or perception. That sounded awfully like Shanmugam's assault on Pritam Singh's presentation of the unpleasant truth in parliament, tantamount to imputing Yeap "purveys lies and dishonest opinions". It was like Yeap had to "put your hand on your heart and say, this is what I believe in." Yeap didn't blink, "It is a fact, that's why I raised it here."

Labour chief Lim Swee Say didn't exactly help with his warped version of events - that the Job Credit Scheme helped keep jobs, while foreign work passes were allowed to expire without renewal. In other words, foreigners lost jobs, Singaporeans kept their jobs. SNEF's Lee qualified that foreigners on contract were let go, but at least he was honest enough to concede, "This does not mean no Singaporeans were retrenched." So when Tan urged his audience to distinguish perception from reality, maybe he should have commanded Lim Swee Say to stop daydreaming and come down to earth.

Oddly, it is the same Tan who announced the new guidelines purportedly designed to take aim at discriminatory hiring practices such as job advertisements that stipulate foreigners are preferred, and preferential hiring of foreigners over suitably qualified Singaporeans. Which makes one wonder whether the general is acting on inputs of perception or reality, or just engaging in theater. Shanmugam's words come to mind again: "When members speak here, (with) their personal views and their integrity to speak their personal views and speak from their heart, there are no games that need to be played."


  1. The practice of foreign managers hiring staff of same nationality is so common and yet the ministry does not seem to know until someone complained. Sometimes I wonder have the grassroot leaders actually telling MPs and Ministers the truth or just provide the tripot to make everybody happy.

  2. Tan is no better than kee chiu, although a few people i spoke to has better perception of him compared to kee chiu.

  3. "Sometimes I wonder have the grassroot leaders actually telling MPs and Ministers the truth or just provide the tripot to make everybody happy". Unquote.

    It is THE DUTY of the MPs and Ministers to get the facts right and to tell the people correctly, otherwise they are not fit to hold the offices.


  4. But these are 2 different points. I was there listening and many thought it was reasonable.

    One is on discriminatory practice and the other is the way companies structure their employment.

    I thought the answer given there addressed this quite clearly.

    The former is being addressed by the new guidelines.

    The latter was being addressed by other measures put in place.

    The minister said that the employment numbers remained healthy inspite of recession. Which is true I think when compared to other countries going thru the same situation.

    This is a good step forward. I hope that they will be able to pressure those companies who have unfair practices.

  5. Guidelines only? What will happen if companies choose to ignore the guidelines?

  6. Sadly, at the end of the day, it is the polling box results that matters. You can argue all you want with the incumbent government, but they still decide whether they wish to listen to you or not.

    Singaporeans wanna fight for more equal treatment? Be rewarded for their sacrifices in serving NS? Vote the right way.

  7. If hearsay(from feedbacks) is acceptable and or believeable as fact to everyone, me has no more argument.

    It is clear that guidelines are not enforceable.
    As it is, there are no consequence for not following guidelines. It is as good as saying listen to me, however it is up to You.

    When there are more advantages for the bottomlines(profits) and ease of managing foreign workers, will employers not prefer them?

    Employment numbers can be healthy to the Minister and me, but tell that to the umemployed. Btw, how do we compare with any other country? Most other countries have got land and resources for their people to find food and shelter. Please do not forget that sleeping at void deck and park are offences in Singapore.
    Even in resourceless Hongkong, most of its' homeless people are allowed to shelter themselves from the elements at places they(homeless) are comfortable with.


  8. http://blinkymummy.blogspot.com/2011/10/still-no-singaporeans-first.html

    This blogger has said it all. Another useless guileless and TCJ expects employers to follow just because you say so? ! Get real. What's exactly happening in the ground. I'm in the corporate world MNC long enough to tell you the truth here. The trends are very clear. If one boss is Aussie, all australians start flooding in. If Indian, all indians compatriots start flooding in...etc. People likes to be surrounded with their own kind, that they can trust. I've been on both the receiving end, and giving end - esp when you have budget to manage HC, cheaper talents can get you more employees and stretch that much further. That's a fact. Get down to the details TCJ.
    What is in place to ensure these HRs people/recruiters/employers are putting Singaporeans first? Is there a quota - for top mgt, mid mgt and rank/file? Open your eyes lah. When recession happens, why pay a top experienced guy more money when you can get less experienced guys for less money. Time is bad after all, and you don't expect to grow. Cut cost lah. So who's that cheaper less experienced guy? You tell me - where's the devil in the details?

    No Singaporeans first, and No Singaporeans only.

  9. Just announced that SIA will start a budget airline soon. The CEO is again an Angmoh. I am not against any Angmoh who is really good. The fact is that with the MNC past domination and selective grant of opportunity to local people even for the GLC, there is always claim on shortage of CEO quality people. But, the fact is that many locals are not given a chance to take that responsibility because all companies and HR wants to recruit persons already in the CEO position. No wonder there is shortage of CEO and we have to outsource to get Angmoh.

  10. And the New Dean of Law Faculty at NUS is ANG Moh ...but then he is related to our new President

  11. MIW are good with two tactics. It never fails. SCARCE & SCARE.

    Since our land/resources are so scarce, why/how then do they justify to bring in more population? So it is good scarce when it comes to justifying high prices for everything, but not scarce when it comes to justifying their citizens import? It is scary if foreigners take jobs away with them, but not scary when they take jobs away from locals?

    Stop playing this game PAP. This is not theatre in the ground. You will repent for your ignorance on "perception is reality". There's no smoke without fire.

  12. Obviously they can't all be speaking the truth at the same time without contradicting someone else. Does it mean someone among them must be lying with the bare facts ?

    Judging from their past performance, who do you think among them is the most culpable culprit with the most self-interest to be just plain dishonest ?

  13. so far, they are pretending(very hard) to listen.

    empty talk can only make noise. Please show us some concrete action !

    If you believe in parato's principle, anything exceed the 80/20 rule is NOT normal.

    Look at us, out of 5.18 mio peopel, 2 mio are foreigners, that amount to 40%.

    Out of 10 office employees, 4 are foreigners.

    The balance is tipped long time ago ! sad.