Stoking hatred and ill will

The following is the content of an email I sent to several ministers on 18 October 2013.

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Dear Minister,

I write to express my deep concerns about the mainstream press promoting and stoking racism and xenophobia in their reports.

On 18 October, Minister for Manpower, Tan Chuan Jin, said, in reference to complaints about discriminatory job advertisements:

“It is important to not stoke up hate and ill will as some are doing. It does no one any good.”

Indeed, over the years, especially the last few, the government has taken pains to remind and urge Singaporeans not to fan the flames of hatred, in particular through racist or xenophobic expressions, among our people.

It is therefore with great concern that we are seeing such postings in the mainstream press which the government had described as “accurate, timely, and balanced” and “professional”.

On the same day that Mr Tan urged Singaporeans “to not stoke up hate and ill will”, The New Paper carried this on its front page: Continue reading “Stoking hatred and ill will”

“Fair consideration” – a govt pleads

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What stood out for me with regards to the Fair Consideration Framework, announced by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on 23 September, were these two lines in the ministry’s press release, attributed to Mr Tan Chuan Jin:

“The framework is not about ‘Hire Singaporeans First, or Hire Singaporeans Only’. What the government is doing is to help them get a fair opportunity.”

The same minister had said, in May, that like TAFEP, he preferred to use the “moral suasion approach to tackle the issue of discrimination at the workplace.”

Mr Tan “was quick to add that for now, the Government prefers to stick to its approach of persuading companies to change. It “is working for us”, he said, as the root cause of discrimination in Singapore is employers’ mindsets.” 

His latest about-turn seems to imply that the “moral suasion” route in fact is not working, but at the same time, he is reluctant to introduce legislation to protect Singaporean workers – and is only willing to pussyfoot around the matter by introducing instead a “framework”. One which he at the same time has to reiterate is not about “hire Singaporeans first”.

There are several things about the above two latest sentences in the MOM statement which are disturbing.

One, that the minister needed to clarify that the framework is not about hiring Singaporeans first. For all intent and purposes, the framework is indeed about hiring Singaporeans first, in fact. How else could it be? If it were not, then why even bother to go through this whole exercise?

Or is the minister saying that all he wants employers and businesses to do is for them to just “consider” Singaporeans first only? Like, you know, all you need do is to think this in your mind, the 2 weeks advert on the MOM Jobs Bank notwithstanding.

Continue reading ““Fair consideration” – a govt pleads”