The Sing and Singh sparred in Parliament recently.
Here’s a quick summary on what the argument was about, and why it matters.
Are Singaporeans benefiting from new jobs and economic growth?
Singapore (via the Ministry of Trade and Industry or MTI) brings in overseas investments to create jobs.
These jobs go to Singaporeans, PRs and foreign talent.
However, the top jobs may not all go to Singaporeans. Some foreigners may earn more.
Question 1: Should we still bring in the foreign investment anyway?
Question 2: How can we ensure Singaporeans have fair consideration and opportunities to have good jobs?
Chan Chun Sing (MTI Minister) gave a long speech acknowledging Singaporeans’ concerns about foreigners, and explains why MTI chooses to bring in the investments.
Better to have some jobs than zero jobs for Singaporeans. But the government won’t just stop there.
It already supports Singaporeans getting into jobs with various programmes, and have a fair chance at higher paying jobs via training and upgrading opportunities.
Pritam Singh was adamant about getting breakdowns on how many Singaporeans vs PRs vs foreigners got new jobs in each industry.
Chan Chun Sing replies that the government can get the numbers asked. But what is the intent of the question? Is it to pit Singaporeans against PRs?
Pritam Singh then replies in a FB post. Lumping in PR data with Singaporean data makes it difficult to consider issues affecting Singaporeans in different industries and consider policy options to boost their employment.
So what’s the choice?
Are we Team Singapore (Singaporeans + PRs + foreigners) — competing with Team Other Countries to attract foreign investments to Singapore, and “giving Singaporeans the best chance possible”?
Or are we Team Singaporeans only —competing with PRs and foreigners here, and making our policy decisions as such, which may make us less attractive to foreign investments and subsequent job creations?
The balance is tough.
Featured photo: Today Online
Editing is my work.