Kill the rhetoric before the rhetoric kills us

 

Are you upset that your favourite cafe has closed down?

Did you notice your long time restaurant has shut and called it a day?

Are you a business owner and realising that very few Singaporeans are applying for the jobs you offer?

It doesn’t look like it for the individual person, but Singapore is suffering.

Our GDP numbers are falling and revenue for the country is going to be affected. In 2012, if not for contributions by the GIC, the country would have been in deficit – this means that we wouldn’t have enough money to build the roads, infrastructure, projects, Pioneer Generation Package or give out free money like we used to.

The very strong anti-foreigner rhetoric that you see during election rallies, on some tabloid websites and regular Hong Lim park protests continue to stoke feelings of the common man.

“I feel like a foreigner in my own home”, said one politician.

“Tell these [expletive] that Singapore is full”, said another protest leader

But the truth is, Singapore has never had an employment problem. We have always been enjoying full employment (anything between 2-4% is considered full employment by economic standards), our salaries have been rising. Were there problems of exploitation and repressed salaries? Sure there is, and there will always be – but these are not large scale problems.

Characters such as Gilbert Goh, who purport to “fight for workers rights” continue to provoke anti-forigner, even xenophobic sentiments. Gilbert Goh once made these comments about Filipinos wanting to celebrate their national day in Singapore, “If we allow Filipinos to celebrate their national day at Orchard Road, who will be next? The Indians, PRC Chinese or Malaysians? Will Orchard Road be turned into a playground for foreigners only to wave their own national flags?”

Yesterday, the Straits Times reported that more jobs are going to Singaporeans and salaries are increasing.

ST_jobs_singaporeans

 

But ex-NMP and business owner Calvin Cheng provides a grave caveat, “With fewer foreigners, wages may increase in the short-term. But if businesses are unable to cope with these rising costs, more will close resulting in locals losing their jobs. Morever these businesses will pass on costs to consumers. If rising costs cause inflation, then wage rise isn’t real wage rise”.

MP for Ang Mo Kio, Yeo Guat Kwang (who also runs NTUC’s Migrant Worker Center), said “…SMEs must re-model and accept “future proofing”, which is to anticipate and predict future trends and challenges.” One of the ways that companies can “future proof” themselves, is to be more diverse and adapt to change.

Foreigners in the office environment can bring along diverse opinions, points of view and together, corporations can harness this to innovate new ways of doing things.

An open-minded nation can bring about more positive social change, improve lives and help us to see beyond ourselves. In this day and age, it is not possible to be exclusive, narrow and frown upon other nationalities like as if they were a virus infecting the healthy system of Singapore.

Governing systems that once closed their borders have failed magnificently. China, Japan and Korea were once like that. But they were quick to adapt and look how quickly they have progressed. Singapore had always opened her borders to all, but if we continue down the “Singaporean for Singaporeans” route, this country will regress.

I say – let’s be more pragmatic. Let’s be modern. The globe now is trending towards a flatter planet, more friendship, more partnership.

Let’s make our workplaces friendlier, inclusive and let’s work towards the welfare of our families and friends.

Let’s not fulfil the political ambitions of a small group of people who claim to be “fighting for your rights” under the divisive rhetorical banner “Singapore for Singaporeans”.

singaporean for singapore

 

 

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About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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3 Comments

  • “ex-NMP and business owner Calvin Cheng provides a grave caveat, ‘With fewer foreigners, wages may increase in the short-term. But if businesses are unable to cope with these rising costs, more will close resulting in locals losing their jobs. Morever these businesses will pass on costs to consumers. If rising costs cause inflation, then wage rise isn’t real wage rise.'”

    So he perfectly framed the “broken window” conundrum. We already know both sides of the rhetoric, so buzz me again when that last rhetorician standing is laid to rest by a crumbling house of cards, will you then “discover who’s been swimming naked when the tide goes out”.

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