Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai said in Parliament during his maiden speech that while the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) supported an open economy and society, “Today, we see an urgent need to rebalance the current foreign talent policy championed by the Government”.

In a Facebook post on Sep 6, Mr Leong made clarifying remarks to his maiden speech and wrote: “I would like to reaffirm that all citizens are and should be treated equally in Singapore, as espoused in our National Pledge. Whether they are locally born or naturalised, once they become Singaporean citizens, they should be treated as one of us, no more no less”.

He added that his point was not to draw a distinction between local-born citizens and naturalized citizens.

“By highlighting the fact that we have not had a ‘home-grown’ CEO in DBS, I am querying whether we have done enough to develop our local talent so that they can compete with their global peers”, Mr Leong wrote.

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He continued: “It appears there are lapses in the current process of sourcing for such leaders of the industry. We seem to have the mindset of relying on foreigners to fill key positions of leadership, instead of grooming our own home grown talent. Such ‘foreign talents’ are then conferred citizenship and we the citizens, lose the right to even question the fait accompli?”

Mr Leong had said in Parliament on Tuesday that he is “deeply disappointed” that DBS did not have a homegrown CEO 22 years after former JP Morgan executive John Olds was made chief executive of the local bank.

The current CEO of DBS, Piyush Gupta, was born in India and became Singaporean.

“I was troubled when NCMP Leong Mun Wai lamented that we don’t have a homegrown CEO for DBS,” said Mr Iswaran in his speech during the debate on the President’s Address.

“By all means, let us passionately argue the case to do more for Singaporeans. But, as parliamentarians, let us also be careful about what our words convey; in this case, the message we send to those who – to paraphrase Mr S Rajaratnam – have chosen out of conviction to become citizens of Singapore.”

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Mr Iswaran highlighted that it is important for the country to remain open – to create jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans – and be inclusive at the same time. -/TISG