|Bona fide foreign talent|
Here's how the general manager of an oil TNC saw his role:
The big thing here is technical expertise and management skills. Our partners know how to build and operate a company using 35,000 locals. They do not have any indigenous high quality technologists. So what they want from us is technology. We give them that in return for presence and access to market. Secondly, they want to know how to form and operate a company to modern international standards. My skill is to run that factory with 4,000 people. That is the skill that the locals do not have. They need a small number of expats, people from the Centre, from the UK who know how to run things.
No Singaporean in his right mind would want to shut its doors to foreigners. The guys we don't want in are the closeted racists and the exploitative capitalists attracted by low taxes and fast growing reputation of haven for dirty money.
Don't mistake foreign talent for foreign labour, especially the cheap kind sequestered in inhumane quarters. Before the advent of the flush toilet, night soil was carried away in buckets slung over the backs of Singaporeans. Seamstresses making Levis in factories may have moved up to semiconductor production lines, but there are at least 4 aunties at a nearby wet market happily altering trouser lengths for $4 a pair. Who says Singaporeans are selective about tasks? And what Singaporeans are turning away cushy jobs as receptionists, manning customer support, providing IT services? Why is there a foreign sounding voice at the other end of the telephone line?
The balance between local and foreign workers is a “tricky issue”, so claimed a local politician. The trick here is the maximisation of profit over care of its own citizens. Spare us the image of globalisation as whipping boy. When the minister said, “Foreigners, in a sense, are competing with us," he's obviously not including himself in the mix.