The issues of foreigners and foreign labour have been in the spotlight for many years, going way back to the 1990s, in fact. If you do a search on parliamentary reports or speeches, you realise that Members of Parliament way back were already raising concerns about opening the door too widely to them.
And so, it is no surprise that the issues have in fact gotten even more intense attention in recent years, especially with the influx gaining ground up until recently (at least according to what the government is claiming).
So now, because of political and public pressure, the government has decided to maintain a “two-thirds” “Singaporean core” in the economy, or workforce, according to Manpower Minister, Lim Swee Say, on Thursday.
This two-third figure was first mentioned by his predecessor at the ministry, Tan Chuan-jin, a couple of years ago, in reaction to the public outcry of Singaporeans losing jobs to foreigners.
What is grating is how the government claims to have slowed down the influx and that there is a two-third “Singaporean core”, but refuses to break down the statistics to the component segments – foreigners, Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
Specifically, there have been many calls in the past for the government to divulge how many PRs there are actually in the workforce, but the government has refused to do this.
It has only given statistics on the total workforce number, the total foreign workforce numbers, the number of “residents” in the workforce.
Now, the Manpower Ministry defines “residents” as “Singapore citizens and permanent residents”.
Why does it not break this further down into separate statistics for “Singapore citizens”, and “permanent residents”?
No one knows.
But what is clear is that this “Singaporean core” would include PRs.
In other words, the number of PRs in the workforce seem to be propping up the two-third “Singaporean core” claim by the government.
Now, think about it – how is it possible that PRs are considered part of the “Singaporean core”?
PRs can up and leave anytime they want, and indeed many do; or they may not even send most of their time in Singapore at all. Some are here only for the benefits and would uproot once their aims are achieved and return to their home country very much richer.
Very few Singaporeans have such choices or options. Most have to remain here – come rain or shine.
So, Singaporeans should demand that the government – and Mr Lim Swee Say especially – provide us with real statistics, with breakdowns of the various groups of people in clear and concise numbers, without the hyperbole of vague claims which aren’t substantiated by facts.
Otherwise, are Singaporeans supposed to accept that those, for example, like Yang Yin – who cheat their way to permanent residency – are part of this so-called “Singaporean core” which the govt claims it wants to “maintain”?
Isn’t that an insult to all of us?