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.
September 27th, 2012