The recent discussions about the Wage Shock Therapy reminds me of the pro-bumiputra policies of Malaysia. I feel that many Singaporeans are already too overly protected by their government, which already has a restrictive policy on hiring foreign manpower.
Large nations with natural resources like Australia may be able to handle an economy without cheap imported labor. Not Singapore with its huge exposure to international markets and without any natural resources. If we do not offer cheap and good quality manpower, what will we use to trade for food, water, oil, steel and other necessities? Singapore will just be an empty shell reminiscing its glory days.
The wholesale raising of salaries will devastate the local economy and force many businesses to relocate to other cheaper destinations. Even if we don’t mind paying European prices (a few times more) for our living expenses, a stagnant and shrinking economy is definitely bad news.
And rather than blame the foreign workers, why not reflect on the Singaporeans first?
There is something very wrong, when you find a foreigner able to do the same thing that a Singaporean can do, at one third the price. Something is very wrong if that same foreign worker is happy with a 6-day workweek with 7 days of paid vacation leave, while Singaporeans demand 18 days of paid vacation leave and a 5-day workweek. Something is also very wrong when the Singaporeans keep changing jobs every year while the foreigners stay on for many years.
Singaporeans are not competitive and have a poorer job attitude. As a result, many employers will pick a foreign worker over a Singaporean, even if they are more expensive (due to high levy).
I know a friend who is planning to close down his special needs center because he was not allowed to hire the foreign workers he needed to run it. He told me that Singaporeans would not pay attention during the training lessons, and they leave soon after they finish the training. The foreign workers (mostly Filipinos) are very committed and they stay for a long time. I remarked that the pay is too low for a degree holder in Singapore, and he commented that if he paid more, the math won’t work for his business. He would rather focus on his Hong Kong business that did not face such obstacles.
Why don’t Singaporeans focus on improving themselves to justify their higher pay? Why don’t Singaporeans think about what value they can add to the organization that the foreign worker could not? Why do Singaporeans keep asking for government intervention and blaming the government for all their problems?
The Chinese have a saying that wealth will not last past three generations. The grandparents build the business, the parents maintain it, and the children squander it. It seems that all the hard work is being undone by the third generation of Singaporeans who are demanding many changes and deciding that it is time to spend all their wealth.
Open democratic debate rather than closed-door consensus building will offend our allies and create diplomatic crises that Singapore can ill afford. Social welfare will drain government coffers and push Singapore into debt.
The People’s Action Party (PAP) may seem old fashioned and arrogant, but they know their stuff. Alas, the tide has turned. I shudder to think about the future of Singapore ruled by a populist alternative political party. Maybe it is time to migrate to Australia…