On Tuesday (14 Sep), there was a parliamentary debate on foreign talent policies. PSP suggested a number of measures, but they were dismissed by PAP members for being “populist”, “divisive”, and “racist”.
The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has been highlighting the issue of Singapore’s Foreign Talent Policy in parliament. NCMP Leong Mun Wai has brought up the issue of widespread anxiety among Singaporeans on their livelihood caused by the “movement of natural persons” in some of our agreements like that of CECA.
However, the PAP has consistently dismissed their arguments for being “racist” and “xenophobic”. They also blamed the PSP for deepening fault lines in Singapore and for being “populist”. This shows their total disregard for the hardships Singaporeans face, and their lack of attempt to look deeper into the issue.
“Please reflect on how your rhetoric can deepen fault lines – not just between locals and foreigners, but even between Singaporeans of different races. The strong racist and xenophobic undertones in the PSP’s campaign against CECA have not gone unnoticed.”Lawrence Wong
This not about racism or xenophobia
It is natural for anyone to worry about their own livelihood, after all, losing your job is a concern. Losing your job unreasonably is an even bigger setback.
Granted, there are and have been foreigners with outstanding qualifications who have contributed to our technology, our economy, and overall our country. However, that does not apply to everyone, and in recent times, it seems like many foreign employees that we take in should not even be considered “talents”.
First we have foreign talents with fake qualifications. Imagine losing your job to someone just because they managed to purchase a certificate at a low cost. You had to get a student loan and spend 3-5 years for your piece of paper, whilst all they had to do was to find someone with a good printer.
Then, we have talents who bring in more of their own. Imagine losing your job just because your foreign boss chooses to hire someone from his own country. (You can read this Brightwork Research article here.) You could have the same qualifications and skills, but you lost to the other guy just because you were born here. Why is it that this not xenophobia to the PAP, but us voicing out our concern is?
Moreover, Singaporeans are mostly focused on India not because they are specifically against Indian nationals. It is simply because it feels like most of our foreign talents come from that one nation these days (which could be thanks to CECA). If the agreement and the outcome involved any other nation, Singaporeans would have had the same reaction toward them.
Those who assume that the campaign against CECA is an act of racism or xenophobia has a shallow understanding of the issue. The fact of the matter is that foreigners are hired even when there are Singaporeans qualified enough to do the job. Some of these foreigners even have questionable backgrounds.
Singaporeans would not complain if we really only brought in the best from around the world. Instead of that, we have this one agreement that gives one country an undeserving edge.
The PAP will never understand if they don’t try
And it seems like they don’t plan to try. For the civil servants and the politicians, their jobs are at the moment unavailable to foreigners. To put it simply, they are not affected by it. Therefore, there is a disconnect between their experiences and that of the average Singaporean.
What is worse, is that even if they are unable to empathize, they also have no intention to at least sympathize. They have been dismissing arguments, even to opposition parties who try to speak up for Singaporeans. They also choose to ignore the lived experiences of Singaporeans.
When we ask for data and statistics, they come up with strange justifications about why they cannot reveal the numbers. They say that it is for national security, but they don’t even bother explaining how revealing the statistics can affect national security.
(p.s. Ironically, by labeling Singaporeans who are suffering from this biased foreign competition as “racist” and “populist”, they forget that they themselves are being divisive.)
The unfortunate truth
We knew that the PAP leaders are unable to understand Singaporeans from their ivory towers. What we are very disappointed about is that they don’t even try to understand.
In their eyes, every concern raised by their own people has an agenda to divide Singapore, yet most Singaporeans are simply worried about their own livelihood.
In their minds, foreigners hiring based on nationality is not xenophobia, but when Singaporeans highlight this issue it is xenophobic and racist.
In their hearts, they know better than the Singaporeans who have lived through the bad experiences, and anyone who tries to say otherwise is “populist”, “racist”, and “divisive”.