Progress Singapore Party's views on foreigners are 'fatally flawed'
He says Singapore could lose out investments with strict curbs on hiring
Singapore could lose good investments and jobs if it imposes tighter restrictions on global companies' ability to employ the talent they need, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said yesterday.
He called out the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) for its "fatally flawed" thinking that reducing the number of foreigners here will allow Singaporeans to automatically fill those jobs, and said locals will ultimately pay the price if overly restrictive policies lead to companies relocating elsewhere.
The evidence are clear, he said: Singapore's economic policies have helped raise living standards across the board and create many good jobs for citizens.
Mr Wong had tabled a motion in response to a motion filed by PSP Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai to categorically set out the Government's position on jobs, why Singapore has to remain open and how it is managing foreign worker numbers.
"If we were to take a politically craven approach and impose many stringent conditions on their ability to operate here, we will lose out on many good investments," he told Parliament.
"We would have fewer foreigners for sure. But many Singaporeans will also be deprived of good jobs and career opportunities. It is like cutting off one's nose to spite one's face."
The minister took on the PSP's criticism of the Government's foreign talent policy.
The party has repeatedly highlighted the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with India (Ceca) to suggest that Singaporeans have lost out to foreigners, noting that debate has been marred by an undercurrent of racism and xenophobia.
"Let me be clear: We are bringing in investments and growing the economy, not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end," Mr Wong said. "Our aim is to create good jobs and improve the lives of all Singaporeans."
International companies will hire Singaporeans, but there are not enough Singaporeans to fill all the jobs available, he said.
Mr Wong noted that from 2010 to 2019, median income in real terms grew by 3.2 per cent yearly for Singapore residents.
Between 2010 and last year, local PMET (professional, managerial, executive and technician) employment grew by about 300,000. In contrast, the number of Employment Pass and S-Pass holders went up by around 110,000 in that period. But the PSP wants to sweep these achievements aside, he said.
No business hub can avoid global competition, he added. But by combining and complementing local and foreign professionals, the country can attract more investments and grow the pie for Singaporeans.
He urged the PSP to stop making "misleading and false" claims and cease its anti-foreigner stance, which has raised concerns among the business community as well as ordinary Singaporeans, and could deepen fault lines between Singaporeans of different races.