Ex-MM LKY : We need more foreign workers or PMETS???I will not object if it is jobs Singaporean does not want to do

September 27th, 2012
Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew talked spoke about the pace of admitting foreigners into Singapore with regard to Singapore’s long-term population and manpower challenges yesterday (26 Sep).
He said, “We are short of workers today. We have 5.2 million people of whom 1.5 million are foreign workers… We need more. Although they are coming in at a slower pace, they are coming in.”
He talked about it at the 7th Russia-Singapore Business Forum which was held at Marina Bay Sands.
Meanwhile, Second Trade and Industry Minister S Iswaran also echoed ex-MM Lee’s view on the need for more foreign workers. He was speaking to the media at a separate dialogue session organised by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) yesterday, a day after his ministry released a report on population and the economy (‘MTI: An overly restrictive foreign manpower policy will have detrimental impact on Singapore‘).
Mr Iswaran said that what stood out at the dialogue session was that there was no outright rejection of foreign manpower and he was very glad that the basis of the discussion is not xenophobia.
He said, “I don’t think the basis of the discussion is xenophobia, which is very heartening. What I think they’re (i.e, participants) trying to come to grip with, and I think we all are, is really how our demography impacts our economy, the opportunities for ourselves, our children and in turn, how immigration and foreign manpower can help us.”
It is not known who these participants are at the dialogue session.
The discussion centred on how to bring foreigners in judiciously. That is to say, the policy of continued importing of foreigners will not stop.
Mr Iswaran said: “So a calibrated approach to immigration, a calibrated approach to bringing in foreign manpower and having a sustained economic policy means being able to grow at a rate where on the one hand, the additions to our local population mix is done at a rate which we can sustain as a society and we can move with that and adapt to it. But at the same time, it is done at a rate where our economy can continue to generate opportunities for our Singaporeans.”
He did not elaborate how continued importing of foreigners can help generate opportunities for Singaporeans when there have been many cases of foreigners hiring their own countrymen, discriminating Singaporeans.
In any case, Mr Iswaran said Singaporeans must have an honest discussion about the country’s immigration policy, no matter how unpalatable it may be.
Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin was also present at the dialogue session. However, Mr Tan is more circumspect.
Mr Tan said, “At the end of the day, what we are trying to do is what makes sense for Singaporeans… GDP cannot be an end in itself. High growth cannot be an end to itself. It’s about what will really benefit and make life better for Singaporeans and what will make life better for us as a society and even in that, there are inherent tensions.”
Mr Iswaran added that if the economy stagnates, the option to pursue non-material aspirations would not even be there.
During the dialogue session, a representative from the ASME, spoke about how difficult it is for SMEs to find manpower with the tightening of the foreign worker quota and higher levies.
Mr Tan replied if the government were to free up the space, every company would then appeal and the number of foreign workers would go up.
Citing the experience of other developed countries, he said more can be done to increase the productivity instead.
He urged companies to wean off from a free flowing foreign labour market.
Admit it, LKY your Foreign Talents policy failed miserably and now you still want to defend it which has caused Singaporeans dearly and reduced many to hardship conditions. If I were you, I would by now excused myself from politics and retired gracefully being a rich man than to put yourself to shame and be criticised by every Singaporeans. In order to rectify the mistakes you have done, we now have to fight to make foreign PMETS be levied with tax to be on similar grounds to the 16% CPF contributions so that there is a level playing field, make sure those jobs that require foreign PMETS have to meet a 50/50 quota where you need to employ a Singaporean before you can employ a foreigner. I can easily PUT SINGAPOREANS FIRST and get Singapore economy moving at a rapid pace rather than a technical recession we are in now, but CAN YOU??? You do not have two feets firmly on the ground and is no longer talking THE HARD TRUTHS. The only merit company can employ foreign PMETS is that they are better skilled and more productive than Singaporeans on equal amount of pay.
– Contributed by Oogle.

Gov’t must address root cause of breakdown

September 27th, 2012
I was looking forward to the forum between PM Lee and members of the public, ostensibly to discuss the future we Singaporeans envisioned for ourselves, that was broadcast on television recently.
I was disappointed. It seemed to me that the questions were tame, as if they had been screened beforehand for unfavourable or incendiary content. I also felt that a lot of important questions did not get asked; questions on issues that seem to divide society almost right down the middle now.
Singapore was already considered a success story 20-30 years ago. We were known as one of the Asian Tigers then and the productivity of our workforce was up there among the best in the world.
In those days the MRT had just been built and made travelling so easy. Our kids were doing well in school, health care was of a high standard and still improving, while wages for blue collar employees were rising steadily. Year by year more and more HDB dwellers were able to afford to move into bigger and better flats.
This was us Singaporeans enjoying the fruits of our success.
Nowadays things seem to have gone lop-sided. The public transport system is straining at the seams, the cost of health-care is rising while our children are under unrelenting pressure in school and university.
The darlings of our economy, the blue-collar guy, is losing his job to cheap foreign labor while prices for HDB flats are now ridiculously high.
One Minister, I forget which one, shrugged it off by saying that we are “victims of our own success”.
How did we get from “enjoying the fruits” to being “victims” of our own success? If the government can answer that they would have found the answer to this dilemma that Singapore is in.
Yes we have all these millionaires, which is not a bad thing, and, yes, we are very good in a lot of things.
The PAP must not forget, however, that they only won 60% of the votes at the last elections and that four out of 10 electors rejected them and their policies.
They have not been given an absolute “yea” to do as they please. If they want to keep this country from being divided down the middle, they have to listen intently and ask themselves some hard questions.
We have not come to the stage where people are taking to rioting in the streets but judging from comments made online I see that there is a chasm dividing public opinion that does not bode well for Singapore.
Merely accusing people of being “xenophobic”, “intolerant” and “rude” does not do anyone any good whatsoever.
It is the government’s policies that have caused this breakdown. Is this what we worked so long and so hard for?
Brian Vittachi, 55
Operations Manager

* The letter first appeared on http://sg.news.yahoo.com/yourview/

Another load of rubbish from MTI

by Lin Yanqin and Wong Wei Han

SINGAPORE – If Singapore does not continue to allow for a “calibrated” inflow of immigrants and foreign workers, Singaporeans have to be prepared for little economic growth, limited real increases in wages, and insufficient manpower in the health and social services sectors to serve the Republic’s ageing population, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s (MTI) Occasional Paper on Population and the Economy released yesterday.
At a press conference, Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang reiterated that, as the economic growth trajectory slows and the workforce ages and shrinks, Singapore has to complement the resident workforce with a calibrated rate of immigration and foreign worker inflow, even as it seeks to raise the productivity of businesses and encourage more residents to enter and stay in the workforce.
Without these three measures in tandem, the Republic would struggle to reach the economic growth target of 3 to 5 per cent in the years ahead, and keep the real wages of Singaporeans growing, he noted.
The National Population and Talent Division is putting together a White Paper on population policies, due out early next year. The MTI’s Occasional Paper seeks to provide Singaporeans with a clearer understanding of the trade-offs involved, when it comes to foreign manpower.
Mr Lim said: “In the end, this is a national conversation. If Singaporeans say ‘no, we are no longer interested in 3 to 5 per cent (growth), we want 1 per cent (growth)’, well, that’s the outcome of the exercise. We just have to be sure that everyone goes into it with a clear mind, that we understand the trade-off, and we are taking that trajectory.”
Observers TODAY spoke to noted that, while Singaporeans may see the rationale behind the economic arguments, other considerations could come into play.
For example, some Singaporeans may reject the necessity of having more foreign labour or immigrants because “they don’t necessarily enjoy the benefit of maintaining foreign workers, which can create wealth and help develop our economy,” said SIM University economist Randolph Tan.
“Instead they are penalised by the presence of foreigners due to increased property prices or job market competition,” he said.
National University of Singapore sociologist Paulin Straughan noted that it can be hard for individuals to “look beyond their personal unhappiness for the well-being for the nation”.
“The macro economic scenario is not easy for everyone to understand,” said Associate Professor Straughan. “So the way forward is about trust in the Government in that what they say is true, and they have to come down and woo the public.”
In the Occasional Paper, the MTI described the importance of the foreign workforce, pointing out that foreign manpower has helped Singapore restructure its economy to tap into emerging sectors where the necessary skills are not immediately available. It has also given Singapore the flexibility to respond quickly to economic opportunities when they come along.
Foreign manpower also help to “cushion Singaporeans from unemployment during downturns”, the paper added.
Moreover, given the improving educational profile and rising aspirations of Singaporeans, fewer Singaporeans will be willing to take up less-skilled jobs, and foreign workers can help meet the demand for labour in these sectors.
While there have been concerns about the presence of foreigners depressing wages, taking away jobs and even encroaching on space, Mr Lim noted that “it depends which sector you are talking about”. “What this paper tries to address is, instead of this generality that I am unhappy with foreign workers, well, talk about your sector. Which sector are you in, are you in the healthcare sector? Are you receiving services from the healthcare sector? Well, if you’ve got no foreign workers, be prepared to pay higher cost,” Mr Lim said.
The MTI paper also pointed out that a foreign workforce could help check consumer inflation in domestically-oriented sectors like retail and F&B, which economist Tan Khee Giap agreed was valid.
But the co-director of Asia Competitiveness Institute at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy also noted that, on the other hand, the cost of things like housing could go up as a result of a larger population in Singapore – partly fuelled by immigrants – driving up demand. “It comes back again to the question of coordination between ministries and stat boards to meet the needs of an expanded population, and whether policies are in place,” he said.

Pro foreigner policies only work for jobs that locals do not want to do like construction industry etc and unless there is a level playing field for other jobs for PMETs, any kind of properganda will not work as we Singaporeans today are educated and could easily find other countries experiences to reference to, the Singapore Government can forget to try to spoon feed us to accept their draconic policies that only make Singaporeans suffer for their own benefits, nothing will work unless “YOU PUT SINGAPOREANS FIRST”.
I challenge the Government of Singapore if they are unable to ensure continued economic growth, then give up the running of Singapore and let others who can. We do not need incompetent persons getting the highest paid salaries in the world who cannot solve problems effectively.
– Contributed by Oogle.