Zhan Shaoxiang, financial officer, in Lianhe Zaobao (September 14, 2020)
Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Dickson Phua)
As Singapore’s economic situation worsens and unemployment rises, the debate over whether government policies allow foreigners to steal jobs from locals has been reignited. But is this true?
First, it is necessary to look at Singapore’s economic environment in comparison to the rest of the world. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many industries are suffering, and layoffs have become inevitable for both foreigners and local. The public, however, has paid too much attention to the number of unemployed locals, overlooking the situation for foreigners.
Second, in response to Covid-19, the Singaporean government has launched a series of measures to assist businesses. This includes an employment subsidy program that supports local workers. Yet there has been no subsidy for wages paid to foreigners
Third, Singapore is an open economy as well as an important financial, service and shipping center. To maintain this international status, it is necessary to recruit talent from all over the world. Foreigners have provided Singapore with knowledge, technology and management expertise, which is now an indispensable asset.
Fourth, the government has spared no effort in attracting multinational companies to Singapore, creating more employment opportunities. It is understandable that many companies will require some employees to be local as they may have a better grasp of the business.
Finally, foreigners consume food, clothing, housing and transportation and also pay taxes. This has promoted the development of the local economy and created income and employment opportunities for locals. Without foreigners, many houses would become vacant and restaurants and cafes would have less business.
The Ministry of Manpower should not interfere too much with a company’s freedom to hire employees. Every worker, whether local or foreign, contributes to Singapore’s economic development. Locals should avoid making excuses for their own problems by blaming the government, foreigners or companies.