Singapore—In Parliament on Monday (Jan 6), Workers’ Party (WP) MP and opposition leader Pritam Singh asked for the number of jobs for each sector under the Government’s Industry Transformation Maps (ITM) to be broken down based on three categories—citizens, PRs and foreign workers.
This led to a somewhat heated exchange between him and Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, who at one point asked him, “We can get you the numbers. But let me say this: What is the point behind the questions?”
The following day, Mr Singh addressed this in a Facebook post, wherein he pointed out that the information available concerning jobs for Singaporeans on different ITMS is “inconsistent,” which he had raised in Parliament.
While for the construction industry, its ITM makes it clear that “good jobs for Singaporeans is a target,” Mr Singh wrote, in other ITMs, indications are not as clear, with some references only stating “the workforce,” “locals,” or “PMET jobs,” but do not specifically say if these jobs have gone to Singaporeans or not.
Mr Singh, who is the secretary-general of the Workers’ Party, wrote, “Separately, in most employment statistics, the Government does not classify Singaporeans as a standalone category. PRs are also included, collectively categorised with Singaporeans as ‘locals’.”
The WP MP argued that this makes it harder to examine the issues and problems that affect Singaporean workers over time and across different industries.
He added that the lack of consistent data also makes it hard “to track and consider policy options or alternatives” that would help Singaporeans’ careers—which is, he states, “something every civic-minded citizen and most of us political moderates with a stake in Singapore should be concerned about.”
Mr Singh then vowed that the Members of Parliament from the Workers’ Party will continue to ask the questions in order to obtain the needed local-foreign workforce data to determine how Singaporeans are doing since the Trade and Industry Minister had said that he could obtain this information and that the Government has nothing to hide.
The WP leader added why this information is needful, writing, “without hard data, there is much less scope for members of the public to rely on education and facts to counter fake news and falsehoods. Falsehoods fester far more when the facts are available but not made public.
In post-POFMA Singapore, the political leadership of the day cannot expect to have it both ways.”
In Parliament on Monday, Zaqy Mohamad, the Minister of State for Manpower, said in answer to Mr Singh’s question that there has been an overall increase of 19,500 jobs across the 23 sectors, due to 39,300 more jobs for Singaporeans, 8,600 more jobs for permanent residents and 28,500 fewer jobs for foreign workers.
The WP leader asked for more specific data in order to have more fact-based conversations on the matter, and also to avoid “a corrosive conversation about Singaporeans losing jobs to foreigners, et cetera,” as TODAY Online reports Mr Singh as saying.
The Minister of State for Manpower answered by saying that in its annual report, the Manpower Ministry provides the local-foreign workforce breakdown in broad sectors.
Mr Zaqy’s answer was followed by a question from Liang Eng Hwa, the MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, who asked if the economic growth due to changes in industry has been more advantageous to Singaporeans than to foreigners.
The Trade and Industry Minister at that point stood up and said that he would answer the questions from Messrs Singh and Liang, as they concerned the Government’s plan to grow the economy and create new jobs. -/TISG