Free movement of ASEAN PMETs?

We refer to the article “Iswaran: ASEAN deal won’t compromise SG job opportunities” (TR Emeritus, Apr 14).

The influx of foreign workers may become a flood?

It states that “Iswaran’s Reply

Replying to Mr Yee’s question, Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said that under the ASEAN Agreement on the Movement of Natural Persons, Singapore is committed to allowing the entry of intra-corporate transferees at the level of managers, executives and specialists.

Entry for these intra-corporate transferees is limited to a two year period that may be extended for up to three additional years each time for a total term not exceeding eight years, Mr Iswaran said.

Given Singapore’s low unemployment rate, Mr Iswaran said that allowing selected skilled labour from ASEAN to work here temporarily enables Singapore to fill skill gaps, without compromising the job opportunities of local PMETs.

He assured that measures are in place to foster a level playing field for PMETs, such as the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), which will take effect in August.”

FCF applicable?

Since the ASEAN agreement is applicable to business visitors, intra-corporate transferees and contractual service suppliers – isn’t the  Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) not applicable to such foreigners’ jobs?

If this is indeed the case, why give the assurance and say that “measures are in place to foster a level playing field for PMETs, such as the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), which will take effect in August”?

Level playing field?

Also, what are the other measures “in place to foster a level playing field for PMETs”?

Since we are on the subject of “a level playing field for PMETs” – how can the playing field be level when

… employers will save 17% on wages because foreigners do not have to make CPF contributions

… most foreigners are on 2 year contracts – which makes it very difficult for them to switch jobs – and thus removing the problems associated with labour turnover for employers

… employers may prefer foreign males as they are not subject to reservist call-ups 

… employers may prefer to employ single foreign females, who may be less likely to incur 4 months of maternity leave?

Employment pass minimum salaries not applicable?

Coming back to the issue of the ASEAN agreement – since as I understand it – there may be no minimum salary requirements like the S-Pass and Employment Pass minimum salaries, for such  intra-corporate transferees and contractual service suppliers’ employees – wouldn’t such foreigners be preferred over Singaporeans and PRs because they may be paid lower salaries?

SY Lee and Leong Sze Hian

P.S. You may also like to read “India-Singapore CECA: 127 professionals can come for up to a year? (part 1) (Mar 9, 2013) and (part 2) (Mar 11, 2013) 

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the 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), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.