By: Leong Sze Hian
I refer to the article ‘S’poreans shouldn’t complain that foreigners are taking away jobs they want to do, Scotts Group CEO’ (https://theindependent.sg.sg/sporeans-shouldnt-complain-that-foreigners-are-taking-away-jobs-they-want-to-do-scotts-group-ceo).
Responding to the perception that foreigners as taking away white-collar jobs which Singaporeans actually want to do, Asad Jumabhoy CEO at The Scotts Group, feels that foreigners who are better educated should be allowed to compete with locals for jobs.
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia in an interview Mr Jumabhoy said that locals have to adopt the same mentality and stop complaining. He feels that it is all a matter of if someone wants to work hard or not, and of it the person wants to get somewhere in life.
In a wide-ranging interview, the CEO said Singaporeans should “stop complaining” and “let anybody come”.
“Don’t come and tell me foreign guys came in and took my job. Improve your skills. I see so many kids today come from every kind of background, well-of backgrounds and not well-off backgrounds. They’re knocking themselves out learning. It’s really a question on how much you’re willing to put out and how hard you’re willing to work.”
When the interviewer pointed out that “some (locals) might say no matter how hard I work, I’ll never really be able to compete because the foreigner doesn’t have to deal with the high cost of living that I do and therefore is willing to accept a lower salary than me, so he becomes a more attractive employee.” Mr Jumabhoy replied:
“Jumabhoy: That’s market practice. Every time you interfere with market pricing, you end up in a mess. It’s not just Singapore, every country. If you put currency controls for example, you’ll get a problem somewhere else. All these things are interconnected. It’s been proven and it’s very painful to prove, but the market economy is a good allocator of resources.
If you have a feeling that your talent is worth more than what you’re being paid, go do something else. Go start your own business. If the market is saying, “Asad, I’m not willing to pay you so much for this job.” then I have two choices: either I change my job and change my focus or I stick with this and accept my position.”
Unlevel playing field?
How can ordinary Singaporeans compete with foreigners for jobs, when the playing field is not level – so extremely unlevel?
How do you compete with foreigners all over the world, who can come on a tourist visa – look for a job and stay when they find one – who are willing to work for much lower pay?
How to you compete with foreigners when employers can save as much as 18 per cent of wages, because foreign workers do not have to make CPF contributions?
How do you compete with male foreigners when they do not have to take leave due to National Service reservist training?
How do you compete with female foreigners who cannot (work permit holders) or are unlikely (employment pass holders) to get pregnant and take four months maternity leave, because they came to Singapore as singles or their husbands are not in Singapore?
How do you compete with foreigners who are typically on two year contracts, and are unable (work permit holders) or unlikely to resign (employment pass holders) for at least two years – thus reducing employers’ turnover problems?
How do you compete with foreigners whose cost of living needs are much lower than yours?
Odds are stacked against S’poreans?
In the final analysis, it may not be so much about Singaporeans unwilling to compete, but rather that the odds are so stacked against them!