Mr Chee is back yet again with another “smart” thing to say. This time, If you don’t know what we’re talking about (also because it’s so irrelevant and again, just another bitch fest), read his full post about his rant here.
Unlike Dr Chee’s post (which was lengthy and exhausting to read because of his lofty ideals and theories), let’s talk facts. All of us know that since COVID-19 shook the world, many countries were quick to combat the issue by closing borders, introducing travel bans. What are some of the side effects of this?
The slowdown of globalisation.. a manpower crunch, the list goes on. For example, in the South-East Asian region alone, we have seen economical and political unrest.
And mind you, these are countries which boast great natural resources. Despite the closing of borders, their fatality and infection rates still see high numbers.
We’ve been taught since young (and we can also see) that, unlike other countries, Singapore does not have natural resources. We don’t have rubber plantations, flowing waterfalls, or space for livestock and rice padi fields. The only resources we have are our people and most Singaporeans are not willing to do jobs that foreign workers can fill. Some examples are in areas like construction, security and cleaning. We can already see that gap widening with the slowdown in the completion of BTO projects (for example, some originally slated for 5 years, extended by 1 year).
There has also been an increase in the demand for domestic workers and caregivers who need around the clock care in their homes.
Now, on to what Dr Chee claims is the crux of the issue: “The dependence of our economy on foreigners.” He then proceeds to quote Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, with the line plastered across “Without the foreign workers, we would not have attracted investments.” What Dr Chee failed to highlight is how PM Lee also talks about the appeal of having a global edge and how the world views Singapore as a global marketplace, a country with a society that embraces openness. Are we competing with foreign talent? No.
In another sharing by PM Lee, 1,200 workers at IM Flash Singapore, six in 10 employees are Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs), and four in 10 are foreigners. Furthermore, two-thirds of the managerial and professional positions are taken up by Singaporeans and PRs, while two-thirds of the technician and manufacturing jobs are done by foreigners. For every one foreign worker, we have created 1.5 local jobs in this project.
It is a win-win situation for all.
To sum up, let’s remember the time when the government took the step to send foreign workers back to their home countries, during the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, in 2020, the number of Work Permit holders in the Construction, Marine and Process (CMP) sectors declined by nearly 60,000 or 16%. It is only natural for the government to make the collective decision to start bringing in the foreign manpower we need, bit by bit, with great caution, to help pick up from where we left off last year. When does closing of borders make sense? When there’s a need to curb the outbreak.
There is a need to strike a balance between managing the risks of importation of COVID-19 cases and the manpower needs of our economy and country. The truth is, without sufficient manpower, businesses would not be able to sustain themselves and this would result in a crisis. Unemployment could happen to the best of us. The real solution to this problem is to ensure that we have a proper risk management framework for some foreigners to enter Singapore. Upgrading testing equipment, even giving us the option to purchase our own COVID-19 testing kits off the shelf from Guardian (article here) tells us that we are in good hands.