EVEREDDY: I know my opinion won’t count, but nevertheless, I could not help noticing a few fallacies in Dr. Juan’s argument.
He is complaining that cost of living is very high, and yet wages are being suppressed by employing foreign workers – however, if (much) higher wages were to be paid for everything, wouldn’t the costs go up accordingly. If instead of Bangladeshi workers working 5am-10pm for dirt cheap, Singaporean workers are employed in construction sites for 5-8 times those wages, won’t the already expensive HDB housings cost 3-4 times more than they currently do?
While articulated nicely, thus hiding these sort of fallacies, and sugar coating fear mongering, ultimately, I think (and yes, I may be wrong, after all I am a FT, I don’t understand the Singaporean view point that well), that the overall arguments are wrong, and touches on the fears of Singaporeans, but the proposed “solutions” will spell an almost immediate doom for Singaporean economy and its people.
Actually, I did not want to get into the FT argument, because what I have to say would sound harsher. But as someone who has to hire regularly and lead a team, I will only say – lower salary is not why I have to look for foreign workers, I just don’t find the right skilled folks for most of the positions I need to fill. It is good to have aspirations, but they need to be met with matching skills also.
While I used the example of laborers, actually even for white colored jobs, the argument is flawed (but for different reasons). I don’t want to go into a detailed discussion, because I have very strong opinions that will not go down well in a politically charged atmosphere, and as a foreigner, I don’t think it is even my place to air those opinions, but I will just say this – yes, there are many people with all sorts of degrees (and probably the education system is failing the society by giving away degrees to folks without/before imparting the proper skills), but when you need an actual job to be done, it is extremely hard to find the right people. There are of-course exceptions. Some of the best folks in the team I lead are Singaporeans, but they were clear exceptions. I am lucky to have found them to work with, but they are the rare exceptions that I found by suffering through a huge number of local bad hires. And there is no way to sustain business with just hiring locally.
Because of the political situation, PAP has however made it extremely difficult to hire people internationally (as much as the oppositions are unhappy with the foreigner influx, and as much as I understand and suffer the crowding as well). So much so, that I have started seriously wondering whether to move business out of Singapore, and relocate.
Anyway, I am afraid, going forward – it is a losing game for Singapore. There are serious physical/spatial constraints on how many people can live in this little dot. So number of foreigners need to be controlled. However, the level of control is already so high (and will get worse) for businesses, that it is a matter of time before shops start closing, if the policies continue in the same direction (even under PAP, and god forbid the oppositions’ policies).
I am not good with policies, so I cannot comment whether retraining the existing human resources will be adequate, or whether some other paths to keep the economy going while keeping the population in check can be found, but I sure hope against hope that that is somehow possible. But I definitely don’t see it in the oppositions’ discourse (as much as I agree with them, that an open political discourse is needed on these issues).
Send us your commentaries at email@example.com
Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/redwire.singapore