By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond
Speaking to 500 students and staff at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) yesterday, PM Lee tried to assure the students of the bright prospects of Singapore, despite the slowing down of the economy (‘PM Lee Hsien Loong seeks to rally youth amid slowing economy‘).
He said that he is confident Singapore will do well because it is highly connected and has a reputation as an outstanding place to do business.
“If any city in the world is in a position to do well in the new world economy, Singapore should be that place,” he said. “We are feeling the pains of restructuring, but not yet seeing the dividends of our hard work. But we are pursuing all the right strategies, and I am confident that, given time, they will work.”
“As young Singaporeans, the world is your oyster. You have many opportunities, many more than your parents had,” he added. “But you have to seize them, make the most of them, and create further opportunities for yourself.”
The Government, he said, is opening up avenues for students to earn good certificates so as to find good jobs and achieve their aspirations.
Singaporeans also need to adapt to new conditions. “We’re not candy floss… or the strawberry generation. These are durians, very tough,” he quipped to laughter. He urged Singaporeans to tap into the SkillsFuture schemes so as to prepare them to switch jobs or industries as the economy changes – “to learn, unlearn and relearn things all your life”.
He told the students to stay hopeful about the future. “If you press on through the storms and rain, the skies will eventually clear, and then, if you have worked hard to get to the right place, you will find your rainbow.”
“So be confident, aim high and do well. And a generation from now, you will have built Singapore into something much better, something beyond what our imagination can dream of today,” he said.
No use if FT floodgates kept wide open
It is good that PM Lee is trying to give some kind of hope to Singaporean students but as long as the floodgates are kept wide open for all kinds of foreign PMETs to compete for jobs here, no matter how many new jobs are created, no matter how many degrees Singaporeans have and no matter how many retraining courses Singaporeans attend in the SkillsFuture schemes, they will still be unemployed, losing out to the cheaper foreign PMETs.
Even the MPs are alarmed at the number of foreign PMETs “invading” Singapore’s shore these days.
Earlier in January this year, labour MP Patrick Tay made a proposal in Parliament to impose quotas on hiring of foreign PMETs in companies (‘MP Patrick Tay proposes limit on PME numbers for firms that do not hire enough Singaporeans‘). Presently, MOM does not have any quotas for companies hiring foreign PMETs on Employment Pass (EP).
Mr Tay proposed that companies which do not hire enough Singaporean PMETs should be given a limit on the number of foreign professionals they can hire. He asked MOM to impose a dependency ratio in companies for PMETs hired on EP.
At the same time, companies should also be encouraged to retrench Singaporean PMETs last when they have to downsize. Mr Tay noted that such discrimination against Singaporeans still exists especially in the IT and financial sectors.
MP Saktiandi also voiced the same concerns. He said that retrenched Singaporean PMETs often struggle to find jobs that match their last-drawn salaries and they would end up with lower-paying jobs.
MP Lee Bee Wah weighed in saying that she had observed Singaporeans getting retrenched more often. She proposed that each time a company lays off a Singaporean worker, the Government should also cancel an EP given to the firm to reduce a foreign PMET as well.
But the government continues with their pro-FT policy believing that hiring of foreigners in Singapore would help to create more jobs for Singaporeans.
Britons happy to sacrifice trade for fewer foreigners
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported today that Britons are more concerned with controlling immigration than maintaining access to the single market, according to a recent poll which was conducted by Survation Ltd for UK independent TV network, ITV.
Over half of adults polled cite an influx of foreigners as more worrisome than losing EU trade benefits and 58% said they approve of UK PM’s handling of extricating UK out of EU. It also found that the plunging UK pound which has dropped 18% since the Brexit vote, does not stop Britons from wanting to leave EU.
The findings boost the UK PM’s plan to prioritize migration controls over access to EU market in the Brexit negotiations with the European partners.
Britons voted to get out of EU recently as worries grow over competition of jobs from foreign workers and the depression of wages caused by the competition.
The UK PM appears to be more preoccupied with implementing the wish of the voting majority than protecting the interests of the business world, Bloomberg observed.
In Singapore, with 70% of Singaporeans supporting the PAP government, PM Lee appears to have chosen to protect the profit interests of MNCs, GLCs and businesses instead.