Comments on higher paying jobs going to PRs not xenophobic

I refer to the 13 May 2014 Straits Times letter “How to help foreigners integrate” by Mr Christopher Chong.

Mr Chong claims there are plenty of xenophobic views and comments accusing PRs of taking higher paying jobs from Singaporeans but didn’t mention how many comments he actually came across. What percentages of the tens of thousands of comments made each day do these comments constitute that is sufficiently large enough for Mr Chong to consider them plentiful?

Has Mr Chong checked the veracity or otherwise of those comments? If not, on what basis does Mr Chong dismiss them as being xenophobic? What if those were true incidents worthy of further action by the authorities? Wouldn’t Mr Chong have done his fellow citizens a disservice by brushing off their legitimate concerns?

Mr Chong should understand that it is not just netizens but no less than our Deputy Prime Minister Mr Tharman who has made similar remarks of late. Mr Tharman said that differences in hiring mixes between banks have been observed; some banks have Singaporeans much better represented in the range of functions while others have Singaporeans very much in the middle and back office and that it is a challenge to make sure Singaporeans are adequately represented in a good spread of positions including the best jobs in the front office for treasury and trading [1]. Isn’t Mr Tharman saying some banks hire Singaporeans mainly in lower paying jobs in the middle and back office while higher paying jobs in the front office go mainly to foreigners? Isn’t that the same as what netizens are saying? Is Mr Chong going to brand Mr Tharman as being xenophobic also?

Isn’t Mr Tan Chuan Jin’s Fair Consideration Framework to ensure fair playing field for Singaporean workers meant to address the legitimate concern of good jobs going to foreigners? Is Mr Chong going to brand Mr Tan as being xenophobic also? In fact, all First World nation governments have one form of protection or another against job loss by citizens to foreigners. Is Mr Chong going to brand all First World nation governments as being xenophobic too?

Mr Chong should not be too trigger happy with the word xenophobic as he has failed to show himself to be adequately qualified to use the word.

[1] Straits Times, Crucial that S’pore core can land top banking jobs, 16 Jun 2013

When it comes to jobs in the banking sector, the challenge is not just to make sure that Singaporeans are adequately represented.

It is also important that they take on a good spread of positions, including the best jobs in the front office for treasury and trading, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday.

He added that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), together with the Ministry of Manpower, started “very active discussions” more than a year ago with banks here about their plans to develop the “Singapore core”.

Mr Tharman, who is Finance Minister and MAS chairman, was speaking on the sidelines of a dialogue with Indian students at Hwa Chong Institution. He told reporters the local core in banking is “not just about numbers”.

“It’s about proactive career development, and making sure that Singaporeans are represented in the areas of the banks which are going to see growth opportunities,” he said. “It’s making sure there is a good spread of opportunities for Singaporeans within the different banking functions.”

Without going into details, the minister said differences in hiring mixes between the banks have been observed. “Some of them have Singaporeans much better represented in the range of functions. In some others, Singaporeans tend to be very much in the middle and back office,” he said.

His comments were sparked by a dialogue participant’s concern that there were high numbers of foreigners in the financial sector.

In a similar vein, another student inquired about the role of international schools here. It was announced last year that new sites would be released by the Government for international schools.

After the dialogue, Mr Tharman explained that part of Singapore’s competitiveness as a business centre is that children whose parents travel from other countries to work here can have an uninterrupted education at quality international schools.

But diversity is also important. “We are not keen on having too much expansion of schools that are only for one ethnic group or for one nationality,” he said.

“For those who are PRs and those who are here in Singapore for the long term, we want as much as possible that their children go through our national schools,” he added, noting that this has to be done in the “right proportions”.

The dialogue for Indian students was held as part of the Singapore Indian Development Association’s three-day seminar for youth leaders. Other topics discussed included national identity and the cost of living.

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