Foreigners arriving in Singapore to “steal jobs away” from Singaporeans has been a point of contention for a long time.
But it’s during this economic downturn and GE2020 that the issue was brought to the front in an explosive manner.
This past month, the Singapore government has been hard at work trying to reassure Singaporeans about foreigners coming into Singapore to work.
The MOM announced that they are keeping an eye on 47 companies which might’ve practised discriminatory hiring practices against Singaporeans.
DPM Heng Swee Keat came out to explain that the various agreements signed by Singapore with other countries do not take jobs away from Singaporeans.
And now, even our president has stepped up to the podium to say a few words on the issue.
President Halimah Said Gov will Address S’poreans’ Anxiety About Competition for Jobs with Foreigners
In her traditional speech to open the parliament on 24 Aug 2020, President Halimah Yacob said that she completely understood Singaporeans’ concerns with jobs and foreigners in these trying times.
The government will address these anxieties, she assures.
“We understand these concerns. They not only touch on matters of livelihood, but also on our sense of identity and belonging. They will be addressed.”
Adding that the interest of Singaporeans is always the most important, she urges Singaporeans to have “confidence” in the rights and privileges of being a Singapore citizen.
President Halimah Yacob said that Singapore cannot afford to turn inwards and adopt a protectionist policy.
Pointing out that Singapore’s education system can produce the best that can stand against the best the world has to offer, Singaporeans should embrace the value that foreign talents can bring to Singapore to improve the lives of Singaporeans and their children.
Previously, DPM Heng explained why foreign talents are still necessary here in Singapore.
He pointed out that there are opportunities for growth in several industries but Singapore isn’t able to provide enough manpower to make use of these opportunities. Yet.
So while foreign talents are brought in to be the “stopgap” measure, Singaporeans can take the option to upskill themselves in the desired areas.
Don’t Pay Attention To Online Chatter
President Halimah Yacob acknowledged that this issue can be very polarising (divide Singaporeans into two camps).
What she hopes to see is Singaporeans paying lesser attention to what is being said online (read: hate comments on social media) and instead, try to “bridge the gap with those who think differently”.
The Singaporean identity, she emphasised, is not by rejecting new arrivals, but by including them and adding to the “richness of our society”.
She’s probably reminding us of the fact that Singapore is a society mostly made up of immigrants.