“‘Wrong’ to have total free flow of people”: What about S’pore?

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Singapore should stop its liberal foreign labour policies which have caused rising unemployment and under-employment amongst Singaporeans.

I refer to the article “‘Wrong’ to have free flow of people: Tharman” (Sunday Times, Jul 23).

It states that “Singapore has been one of the strongest advocates when it comes to the free flow of goods and services, but there must be limits to the movement of people.

Otherwise there will be less push for businesses to be more productive, and “more fundamentally, you become a society where people don’t feel it’s their own society“, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday at an economics forum in India.”

Comment: Singapore’s productivity has been almost stagnant for about a decade. Many commentators have attributed this in no small way to our liberal foreign labour policies.

“”This is a reality not just because of (President Donald) Trump in the US or Brexit in UK. It is a reality all over the world,” he said when asked a question about tighter restrictions on Indian professionals moving to Singapore.”

Comment: Singapore is probably the only developed country in the world whereby a foreigner can come as a tourist to find a job, and stay to work almost immediately when he or she finds a job.

“Noting that a third of Singapore’s workforce is already made up of foreigners, he added: “It would be mindless to have an open border without any policy framework to govern and constrain the flow of people into your job market. It will not just be wrong politics but wrong economics.””

Comment: If we include permanent residents (PRs) – the percentage of non-Singaporeans in the workforce is about 47 per cent. 

“Its president, Mr R. Chandrashekhar, estimated that there are fewer than 10,000 Indian software workers in Singapore.”

Comment: This may be a gross underestimate of the number of Indian IT workers in Singapore. The Government should disclose the number and percentage of non-Singaporean workers, particularly PMETs in the IT sector.

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong
Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.