A citizen of France, Bob Aubrey, writing in LinkedIn explained why Singapore continues to be the number one country for expats. he said that Singapore “worked so well” for him that he decided to become a “Permanent Resident with a home near that lovely stretch along the East Coast.”

“Sensitivity to foreigners is understandable when you consider the demographics. In 1980 Singaporean citizens made up 91% of the population. By the year 2000, they stood at 74%. Now with 5.2 million inhabitants Singaporeans count for just a little over 60% compared to foreign-born permanent residents or temporary residents. With one of the lowest birthrates in the world, it is only a question of time until Singaporeans become a minority in their own country.

Inevitably, native Singaporeans compare their status and opportunities to foreign-born residents who come for jobs, push up property prices and strain the city-state’s infrastructure. When Singaporeans see their salaries and working hours compare unfavourably to what expats receive, they feel that they are unfairly treated. Whenever they see multinational companies give preferences to expats for promotions that they would like to have, they feel they are not competing on a level playing field.

The Singapore government has assumed the role of ensuring fair treatment of Singaporeans and regulating the inflow of expatriates. But it has to manage a balance: maintain Singapore’s ranking as a top destination for foreign workers while ensuring opportunities for Singaporeans.

In 2014, the Singapore Ministry of Manpower initiated a policy called the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) requiring all employers to consider Singaporeans fairly for job vacancies. According to the regulations, companies should only hire an expat if no suitable Singaporean applies within two weeks. This only applies to jobs paying less than $12,000 Singapore dollars per month and is only for companies with 25 staff or more. Yet the framework has hit thousands of services like restaurants and shops and it has also had unintended consequences for companies with leading edge skills who need specialised workers. Companies such as high tech and research firms can’t fill their quota of Singaporeans because the skills they need are new. So they go elsewhere. Singapore is trying to address this downside by offering generous policies to attract targeted companies that will train Singaporeans for the skills of tomorrow’s workforce.

Does the present policy represent a threat to expats? My personal observation is that the celebrated Singaporean openness to the world and Singaporeans’ pride in the racially mixed society created during the Lee Kuan Yew years is not in serious jeopardy. Yes, I note the spats of xenophobia when foreigners misbehave. But I don’t see the level of fear and foreign-bashing that drove Britain to its Brexit or that is whipping up American discontent to the point where they can support a Donald Trump for President.”

Read his entire commentary here: ‘The New Singaporean Mindset

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