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Worker balance issue 'tricky'

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday sought to explain the tension between keeping Singapore open to foreign talent and ensuring locals are given fair consideration in jobs.

Speaking at a community dialogue in Pasir Ris, he said his priority is to look after Singaporeans, but that the balance between local and foreign workers is a "tricky issue", and Singapore cannot shut its doors to foreigners.

"If we swing too far the other way... some of these companies might find it better off to operate somewhere else," Mr Tan said.

The minister was responding to a question from resident Benjamin Wan, 49, who felt that he was victimised twice by bosses who preferred foreigners instead of locals, The Straits Times Online reported.

'NO ENFORCEMENT'

"We have been coming up with frameworks after frameworks, but there is no enforcement... and Singaporeans have been encountering job discrimination," said Mr Wan.

The Government announced last September a Fair Consideration Framework, under which firms with over 25 employees must prove they tried to hire Singaporeans first before they are allowed to recruit foreign professionals.

Set to begin in August, these companies must advertise professional jobs that pay less than $12,000 a month on a government-run jobs bank.

Mr Tan also fielded questions on volunteerism, the possibility of staging more community bonding programmes and public transport.