Former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng attempted to clear the air regarding misconceptions about the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), that had sparked public furore.
After Eight Riversuites resident Ramesh Erramalli verbally abused a local security guard, many xenophobic sentiments were exchanged, creating an overall unhappiness and dissatisfaction towards foreigners, especially those from India.
However, in a Facebook post Monday (Nov 11), Cheng listed out a series of 17 points, explaining about the CECA, clarifying its necessity as well as calling out some politicians who only added to the anger of Singaporeans.
Explaining about Singapore’s dependency on trade, Cheng wrote, “Not only is Singapore highly dependent on trade, because of our size, our negotiating power is very low. This is especially in bilateral trade agreements with large countries, where we have to convince these larger markets to open up, in exchange for access to our far smaller market”.
Because of this, he added, it would be beneficial for Singapore to sign free-trade agreements with as many countries as possible. Cheng also added, “Trade of good and services cannot be done without human beings involved. This is common sense. You need people to carry out trading of most goods, and all services.
Bringing up a point that has been on the forefont of many Singaporeans’ minds, he wrote, “This freedom of movement of people between India (or any other country who has a FTA with us), is always narrowly defined so as to only include activities necessary to carry out trade of goods and services. It does NOT also allow permanent long term employment”.
Addressing the elephant in the room, Cheng clarified that foreign staff “are not stealing jobs from Singaporeans”. The staff employed in these companies set-up were likely already existing staff sent down to run operations. He also added that as a benefit of the FTA, some Singaporeans are employed by these new companies set up in Singapore.
“However, this should be obvious to politicians who purportedly want to be elected as leaders of the country. It is extremely irresponsible to fan the flames of anger towards foreigners, without explaining the details of free trade”, Cheng pointedly added.
Just last week, social activist Gilbert Goh organized an open mic event at Hong Lim Park for Singaporeans to share their views against the India – Singapore CECA, and to a controversial white paper released by the government of Singapore in January 2013 that projects Singapore’s population as 6.9 million by the year 2030. /TISG