Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lessons From Dubai

To further curb hiring of unskilled foreigners, the $650 levy for every worker beyond the approved number for a building project has been upped to $950. Has Armageddon been averted? Or are the pruning measures too late in the implementation?

In "Dubai, The Story of the World's Fastest City" author Jim Krane writes that 95% of Dubaians are foreigners, and there were only about 100,000 citizens among the city's 2 million inhabitants in 2009. But swarming immigration extends beyond Dubai, and has left Emrati citizens a minority in every one of the United Arab Emirates' seven emirates (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman,Umm Al-Quwain, Fujairah and Ras Al-Khaimah). The million or so UAE citizens make up about 15% of the country's total population of around 6 million. In the UAE, citizenship is guarded "like a vault of nuclear fuel rods". Residents who never took nationality after 1971 have no citizenship at all. That's one way to maintain the nationality core.

When the Sharjah Radio host Mohammed Khalaf dedicated a week of his daily talk show on the touchy subject in May 2008, the responses echo the sentiments of our own citizenry.  Khalaf started by asking his guest, UAE university professor Ebtisam al-Kitbi, whether she thought Emratis might disappear:
"It is reality. Today we face an invasion of millions of people coming to us from abroad to stay. They have no intention of leaving this country. As  result, our existence is threatened."

Al-Kitbi dismissed callers who suggested she was exaggerating:
"Today the locals can't find plots of land to build their houses, while you are selling entire areas to foreigners. The person responsible for this should be punished. No matter how high-ranking they are, these people should be punished."

Another guest, president of the Arab Family Organisation Jamal al-Bah, "totally agreed":
"We have too many foreigners competing with us for work, education, even marriage. Our girls are finding it difficult to get married because of the expatriate girls. We are like a ship lost at sea. ...We need to do something before it's too late."

Khalaf took a call from an agitated Emrati man. "You are pouring salt into our wounds.  You're making us cry. I am telling you that if this situation does not change, I will leave the country in the next three years and I vow never to return." The caller starts weeping and hangs up. (page 260)

Powerful stuff.  If our mainstream media were not so thoroughly emasculated, that would be the true tone of the national conversation.


  1. I read ST carefully, it says the levy to go up for unskilled foreign worker beyond a quota. You know what quota we talking about? It is the FW dependency ratio. What ratio we talking about? 87.5% or 7 FW per local. What it means is that you merely need to pay more levy if you exceed that quota given. It means your company can comprise 100% foreigners as long as you pay the levy. The levy is hardly adequate and most companies will continue to employ FW as long as it is comparatively cheaper than hiring locals.

    1. Instead of paying the levy for 7 FW, the company will employ a cheap Sg/PR. That's the justification that FWs are here to create jobs for local. Really a gutter situation.

    2. Is increasing the levy from $650 to $950 even effective? Looking at the number of rounds of property "cooling" measures, this new levy is not going to "cool" anything from the get go. I suggest $6,500 if they really mean it.

  2. Can Levy the foreign unskilled worker but cannot use those money to help these people because they are the most disadvantaged group in Singapore

  3. But — and this is the crucial question — who will benefit from this kind of growth? Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to make the case that most Singaporeans core will be left behind, because smart machines/talents will end up devaluing the contribution of workers, including highly skilled workers whose skills suddenly or slowly become redundant due to the influx, or globalization.

    As Stiglitz says, capitalism doesn't "exist in a vacuum". There is a culture, laws, regulations, community values that influence wages and social responsibility. It can no longer come from the top leadership. It has to be bottoms up.

  4. This country has over the last 10 years, just been finding a way to pay labor according to their availability plus inflation.

    Our workers (or labour) has never been paid according to its productivity, but according to how easily its productivity or contribution can be replaced.

    At the micro level, if a company wants to keep you, they don't have to pay you based on your "marginal product", but based on your opportunity cost - if you are not likely to get (or take!) better offers elsewhere nor can afford to retire, you will probably not be paid or treated better. When your talent is in sufficient supply (what with very liberal immigration) so you are easily replaced, your productivity will not give you much leverage beyond the disruption the business will suffer when you leave.

    I still don't see convincing evidence that they are restructuring the economy and curtailing the foreign workers/PMETs. I mean, how much can you trust the data of the current population breakdown to begin with?

  5. Don't worry Emirati man, your govt still gives you free Uni education and lifetime free medical. You still have cheap cars and cheaper-than-water petrol for you to cruise up and down the sand dunes and to the mega malls. Your govt still makes it quite easy for you to get monthly welfare; here in Sinkie-land you need to be paralysed or over 70 yrs old in order to qualify for PA. You still have access to cheap govt housing, unlike in Sinkie-land with our alternate-reality-affordable HDB. Last but not least, you don't need to carry 20kg and charge up Peng Kang hill and suffer heart attacks while doing IPPT. Thank your god that you are born in Emirates. If you're born in Sinkie-land, instead of just crying you'll have committed suicide long time ago.

  6. The proportion of millionaire homes in the city of 5.3 million people was 17%, the highest in the world, followed by Qatar and Kuwait.

    The wealth tax aka property tax is welcomed & long overdue. In fact, too little too late. Many have already drank the champagne & got drunk and what's with the little pinch on their pocket.

    That's home for us here in red dot. The

  7. There's a place in Dubai famously (un)known called Sonapur,rymthes very well with Singapore. The migrants there are saying "They are sucking our blood"..kind of like the same thing our China born bus drivers and other migrant workers here have been saying ..same same but different lah.

    Outsiders who see only the glitzy side of Dubai and shamelessly partake in it, think they are looking uber cool and living it up. But the reality is, it is shining the spotlight on this ugliest aspect of today's millionaires and foreigners who are out to rape, flaunt and show off. Whatever happens to those early days of the Dutch sense that it is a gauche to flaunt it, so the wealthy have to settle for a small or subtle tokens of status is long gone.

    Globalization, Capitalism, Moral Decay? All seems to go hand in hand. And our clueless politicians decry "how do you define singaporean core who shares the same values"?

    If LKY is eager to move SG from 3rd world to first, the son is even more eager to surpass the expectation within 50 years to turn SG from Red-dot to Red Blotch. IT will build above, below and over, not to mention outta space, whatever it takes to punch even more weight. When this whole place sink, life will continue for a select few who will board the space craft built by reserves-fuelled hubris. That my friend, is 2050 for you.

    1. AT 30,000 feet and a helicoptor view, they are already so out of touch. In future, we can really say they have spaced out and live in their own planet!

  8. The grand plan is to make this place too expensive for the average Singaporean to survive here so they will emigrate or retire to neighbouring countries. Those who cannot get out will die here alone after their kith and kin have moved out. In their place will be new citizens and guests, with serfs brought in for the benefit of the so called elites.
    The select few is doing this to build a kingdom modelled after Lanfang by creating new nominal Singapore citizens that will be replacing the "core" Singaporeans who are supposedly their priorities, as the son have promised.
    The 60.1% can continue their sleepwalk and buy in to their hubris but if they do wake up, it may be too late to reclaim a Singapore that have been transformed from a republic to a new kingdom that belongs to the select few, where "Majulah Singapura" has lost its meaning.

  9. Die, die must vote Opposition in GE 2016.
    This is for my grand children's future.

  10. Another example would be Kuwait when invade by Iraqi forces.
    Foreigners deserted, the locals are at lost.


  12. I worked in Dubai for five years for an MNC.........the locals dont and are not keep to do many of the mid level and low level jobs...........they bring in masses of indians and pinoys to do all the dirty work.........but they never give PR or citizenship to this people........strictly you stay as long you have job no job out you go........

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