Was PM Lee completely outsmarted by the Indians?


Twelve years ago on 29 June 2005, PM Lee triumphantly went to India to sign the free trade agreement, the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement or CECA, with the Indian government. At the official dinner hosted by the Indian PM for him in New Delhi, PM Lee happily announced that a “New India” is emerging.

“Singapore is keen to engage this New India,” he said. “With the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, or CECA, there is no doubt that our trade and business tie-ups will increase considerably. It (CECA) is much more than a free trade agreement. The CECA will bring our two countries closer together,” he added. “Singapore and India stand to gain immensely from the increased flow of goods, services, investments and talent. As economic linkages expand and the free flow of people and ideas continues, I am confident that the relationship will grow from strength to strength. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, may I now invite you to raise your glasses and join me in a toast to the good health and success of His Excellency Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the peace and prosperity of the people of India and the enduring friendship between our countries.”- PM Lee at Dinner hosted by India’s PM, 29 June 2005

And that was how Singapore ended up signing CECA with India.

Cleverly hidden clauses

In the agreement, Chapter 9 provides for the movement of people between the 2 countries.

In particular, it provides very laxed rules for the so-called “intra-corporate transfer” of employees, encompassing some 127 different type of professionals described in Annex 9A: IT professionals, architects, civil engineers, electrical engineers, doctors, biochemists, pharmacists, lecturers, accountants, auditors, financial analysts, psychologists, career advisers, etc.

In Article 9.5, Clause 1, it talks about providing a “long-term temporary entry” to “intra-corporate transferees”. In fact the name itself should have raised a red flag to PM Lee. How can an entry be simultaneously “temporary” but yet “long-term”?

The clause stated that “each party shall grant temporary entry to an intra-corporate transferee of the other party, who otherwise meets its criteria for the grant of an immigration visa, for an initial period of up to two years or the period of the contract, whichever is less. The period of stay may be extended for period of up to three years at a time for a total term not exceeding eight years”.

Bottom line is an “intra-corporate transferee” can stay up to 8 years before he is “rotated” out of the country.

And the person shall be exempted from any labour market testing or economic needs testing, as specified in Article 9.3:

“Neither Party shall require labour market testing, economic needs testing or other procedures of similar effects as a condition for temporary entry, in respect of natural persons upon whom the benefits of this Chapter are conferred.”

That is to say, economic needs testing like Singapore’s fair consideration framework which ensures fair hiring of Singaporeans cannot be applied to “intra-corporate transferees”.

To top it all, CECA Article 9.6 even allows the “intra-corporate transferees” to bring in their spouses or dependents to work too:

“A Party shall, upon application, grant the accompanying spouses or dependents of the other Party the right to work as managers, executives or specialists, subject to its relevant licensing, administrative and registration requirements.”

In cases where their spouses or dependents are not professionals, they shall be allowed to work in other areas:

“Such spouses or dependents can apply independently in their own capacity (and not necessarily as accompanying spouses or dependents) and shall not be barred by the Party granting them the right to work from taking up employment in a category other than that of managers, executives, or specialists solely on the ground that they as the accompanying spouses or dependents are already employed in its territory as managers, executives or specialists.”

India IT companies exploiting the “intra-corporate transfer” loophole

Hence with CECA, Indian IT companies like Wipro or Infosys can exploit the “intra-corporate transfer” loophole, to move large number of Indian IT workers into Singapore since CECA does not set any quotas.

They do not have to hire a single Singaporean in their Singapore-based subsidiaries.

Before the PAP govt notices, tens of thousands of Indian IT workers have already quietly entered Singapore with many of them working and settling in the East side of Singapore, creating their own enclaves.

In recent months, driven by higher unemployment among Singaporean PMETs as well as discriminatory hiring complaints from Singaporean workers, the PAP govt started to slow down the approvals of Indian IT professionals to work here.

Indian govt fighting back

Times of India reported that work visas for Indian IT professionals to work in Singapore have dropped “to a trickle”, prompting the Indian government to put on hold the review of CECA, citing violation of the trade pact.

Some of the Indian IT companies affected include: HCL, TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant and L&T Infotech.

“This (visa problem) has been lingering for a while but since early-2016, visas are down to a trickle. All Indian companies have received communication on fair consideration, which basically means hiring local people,” the president of Nasscom, their IT association, said.

For all practical purposes, visas have stopped for their IT people, added another Indian industry executive. In retaliation, the Indian government has now decided against expanding the scope of goods where import duties for Singapore goods would be cut unless the concerns of Indian industry are addressed, the report said.

In particular, the Indian govt is against Singapore using our “fair consideration framework” to regulate the employment of foreigners in Singapore.

“They are doing it despite the CECA clearly stating that there will be no ENT (economic needs test) or quotas on agreed services. This is a violation of the agreement,” warned an Indian official.

It looks like the relationship between Singapore and India, instead of growing from “strength to strength” as predicted by PM Lee, it has now hit a low point with India threatening to retaliate with regard to what it perceives as a violation of CECA on Singapore’s part.

source: We want Minister Grace Fu to resign


  1. Outsmart? Not anywhere near Smart for starters.

    More like stupidly selling this Cuntry away, repeatedly bluffed by others and continue to make-believe that it’s for the people’s benefit! “Eat inside crawl outside” 吃里爬外!yet 70% backed those rosy pictures painted….. sigh…..

    Nothing against other nationalities….. but they should seriously go home to progress instead.

  2. Hopeless . this pm is birn with silverspoon and grew up with no skill but everyone cos of his status, pm son, will not slap him but praise him . so do you expect them to be able to see and check their own design system weakness

  3. What did we gain from CECA? Temasek to gain access to built their towns? Those projects are profitable? Are the profits generated back to Singapore and relief our tax burden and the burden of our multi million dollars Ministers ?

  4. It was not only that useless lhl alone who was outsmarted by the Indians, it was his whole useless book-smart government that was outsmarted by the Indians and at our citizens’ expense. Only suckers and politically apathetic citizens will continue voting for such an impressive but utterly useless lots.

  5. Foreingers bring more jobs to Singaporeans? (That’s what he said). This goondu really got played out big time by Indians. Then blow smoke signal and tell locals that degrees no use now. Better be Grab driver or hawkers. Think the 70% must be praising him more right?

  6. Outsmarted only? More like SCREWED to me. The only solution is to tear up CECA. So what if our GLCs make money in India. So what if the rich are able to make income from renting their condominiums to dubious Indian PMETs. The ordinary people do not benefit, nay they suffer, from this agreement. That is what ultimately matters.

    • Not exactly being screwed ……the evil clown prince share with his Indian counterpart the spoil of CeCa ….it is the poor common man in the street of this land git screwed big time!!! Retribution be upon an evil clown prince and his blood sucking leeches gang members!

  7. Singapore is entering a period of Qing Dynasty syndrome. So weak kena taken advantage by other countries. Soon just like the old Chinese, sinkies need to migrate to find better pasture. Maybe China? India? Neighbouring countries?

  8. Since when Sinkies are smart? China can go around investing billions in other countries but we go n pump billions there n loose. Need better example ? Good jobs for foreigners – NS for locals. Pay money n serve Bond for local teachers – free for foreigners. Dont blame any foreigner. Blame yourself for repeatedly giving them absolute majority n still crowing for them.

  9. He has been sleeping for the last decade. Behaving like our master, giving orders and commands. Unlike his father, lky who was on the job every minute. When things went wrong, the respectable Mentor LKY took full responsibilities, no excuses were ever given.

  10. Singapore and India have a formal trade agreement called the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which was signed in 2005. Singapore insisted that Indian workers undergo an economic needs test, which “conditions market access upon the fulfilment of certain economic criteria,” according to the WTO. However, under CECA, India as a trading partner does not need to undergo this test.

  11. What’s wrong with the hardworking Indians being here when we have millions of Communist Chinese living and working here ? Just like other foreigners here too. What is the author of this article trying to prove ? That the author is a racist, biased and intolerant of Indians being here. The author should pack up and leave this multi racial island of ours. To go to a country where the people there are alll of his kind.

    • Mohawk chris – This is also my observation. there can be a million PRC chinese , many still can’t speak and write proper English but they are forgiven. Few Indians and they get sore eyes. Just happen to be that so many IT related jobs are located in few selected locations. I am not defending that Indians are angels. They have their short coming but we must see all foreigners holistically. In a multi racial country , the PM can still say Chinese are not ready to accept minority race even if he is the best guy ( though not all Chinese share the same with him ) , is this the way to go about ?

    • I hv no problems with hardworking indian nationals or PRCs who decided to serve NS and cast their lot with us. I only hv problems with free FT loaders who are counting on us NSmen to protect them.

  12. 70 percent vote for it. In Saudi there is a ratio between foreigners and local for the project. If they do not hire the local, every progress claim there will be a deduction of xUSD per headcount.

  13. Sporean were puzzled that Suzhou investment still didn’t make them learn their lesson and now these ppl trying to dig another grave in india!

  14. We need to vote in more WPies to ensure proportional representation in our parliament in the next election. Current PAPies are quite passive.

  15. Can we, daft Singkies, believe this Bullshit of a loophole oversight? What we can believe is that the loophole was well intended by those PaP arseholes in that CECA document.

  16. What the hell you know those FT live nearby simei condo. Everyday took bus 12 whole bus fully packed with India FT. I’m a student from IT course. what the point studying now. Waste of time jobs are mean to be for FT not us anymore.

  17. the ceca was started under eunuch goh kok dong and negotiated by that useless boy george.
    india rewarded him with a post at some defunct thrid rate ‘university’ as a wall flower. now, after aljunied folks sacked boy george, india felt he has no more use and edged him out. so boy geoge ran away, again, with his tails behind, as usual.
    this is how others treat traitors, those who sold their contry and people.

    a bunch of overglorified bookworms were eaten up by india. ceca is v dirty and one sided. it should be cancelled. just like trump cancelled the tpp.

  18. why independent sg did not cover the bukit batok car bomb blast?
    the person involved stole the rental car, was jailed for cheating and then bought butane gas which caused the explosion.
    where is that busted from? peenoise. how he got his nric ? since when is he a chinese?

    not only india, outsmarted by peenoise, prcs, boormas, chew hu kias and many third rate ‘doctors’.

  19. There was no out smarting. It was planned to be as such. When was the government ever for Singaporeans? They look for cheap labour and so they got it from abroad. Singaporeans suffer and do the government really cares. I don’t think so . They will give all reasons for FT because they know at end of the day the majority of the people will take the bate.

  20. I thot it was GCT? In China we lost out, In Thailand so did we in Banking JV. In New Zealand also SQ got zipped…In Australia I think the telco deal didnt turn oot well. In US and Euroope buy alot of Banking shares high and sell low Quite puzzling to me considering all the clever brains up there tasked with managing our state funds. ..Quite a long list of overseas misadventures with our overseas ventures.. How much gain or more likely loss we never know. All I know is if got success the trumpet sound very loud! Silence mean something not very good…Government guys not very good business people. Here in Singapore they have monooly and people got no choice but buy their services

  21. He is outsmart by everybody
    From China to Americans, and even Malaysia they exploited his vulnerability
    When he spoke , garbage, garbage, nothing but garbage, from stealing people lunch,
    Free smoke of beijing, shanghai river pork soup, ft create jobs for singaporean, sg belongs to everyone

  22. This fella not like father laaa…
    The father was not someone who could not be easily makan or pushed around.
    See laa what the son has done to my beloved Singapore

  23. Greediness makes a person look stupid. Cronyism is the problem that the people must rise up to stamp out by putting in sufficient check and balance in our democratic system.

  24. Maybe that is exactly what he wanted. Plenty of smart foreigners to give Singaporeans a run for their jobs, homes, schools, universities, parks and living spaces.

  25. Outsmarted by the Indians, also by the Chinese. Pissed off Indonesia, Taiwan and Philippines. Sucking up to the US. That’s like half the world’s population

  26. He would have made a great maths professor or researcher. However as a politician and a leader, never even heard him say anything intelligent at all.

  27. He did this so that Temasek could benefit from business deal in India. End of the day Temasek make money for themselves and their shareholders (namely themselves). We citizens go eat shit and die.

  28. I hv been to India to work for six month, the uni there offer me a degree at a fees . U just think those degree can be trusted. Yet our great G still bring them in. They can sweet talk very well .

  29. I put it very simple. He’s like the person in the family who brings all sorts of pple to his house without knowing their background. Then one day, some of his ‘friends’ stole his valuables, another ‘friend’ molested his daughter etc. While he shld be standing out for his family member, asked his sons and daughters to go ‘steal back their lunches’ instead. What a respectable person he is

  30. PM LHL said foreign talents bring job to Singapore which was published in the newspaper, I wondered how foreign talents bring jobs to Singaporean. Few days ago paper reported about one of the condo in the east how Indians took control of the MC, and tried to control the condo.

  31. Yap. Singapore belongs to foreigners. So many dumb stupid Singaporeans that put your own people out of your own country. How stupid and anyone go beside in singapore. Vote for your own death together with your family. Good hope 70% all become jobless.

  32. This is the most ridiculous agreement. Indian companies are the major abusers of employment visas in the U.K resulting in a change in settlement rules for intra company transfers of non European workers.

  33. Modi is laughing at Singapore as to why so many fleak certificate holders include Doctors can easily find job in Singapore but only labourer and clinic assistance in India biggest jokes for a century

  34. Could it be that it was at the behest of his wife who wanted to get into India to ensure that TH can get profit from it, regardless of the pain our locals might suffer. Unlike KGC, who was by the side of her hubby and was content to play the part of the submissive wife. Can it be?

  35. Our book smart, overpaid politicians only good at bullying and hammering local opposition members but are like little innocent lambs in the international business world. What a bunch of losers.

  36. Ask those 70% how what to do ? They r the group give them chance never give them self or other chance , so hope if those 70% guy don’t cry father cry mother . U ask for it

  37. Hope government stop all India IT, Engineer etc come in only allow those construction worker , our school had provided enough and can do the job , don’t approve them company LL use local

  38. The labour market and our employment is where it is only because of govt suka suka policy. Paper chase???? Now no job for Singaporeans. Foreigners better cos govt can get richer by levies cpf etc. Sign agreements blindly with foreign govts at the expense of Sporeans. These very foreigners treat us as 2nd class. Why????

  39. Don’t play play with Indian nationals. They can outsmart and backstabbed you. LHL now kena burnt his arse by signing the agreement and flooded the IT sector with them resulting our own local IT loosing their jobs.
    You can see them every where in this minute country.

  40. Prostitutions And Pimps party have brought in so many ah neh over the past sevetal years. They have formed many residential enclaves (mainly in the eastern part of Spore)

  41. The whole of Changi and the surrounding vicinity completely infested by these Indians. In fact the whole eastern region including Bedok, Tanah Merah, Simei, Tampines and Pasir Ris had been invaded and occupied by them. Walk into some condo pools on weekends and you’ll feel that you’re in India!

  42. I am not biased who they want to sign and approve these FT to work here but the F IDs are bloody irritating and sick to the core that they think they owned Singapore.

  43. Blame the 70%idiots. Singapore was founded by geniuses but these 70% idiots choose idiots and cows to run the country. Sad day for Singaporean.

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