Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Presidential Elections in Singapore

Tan Jee Say has my vote in the coming elections.

I wish to share my story as an associate working in a well-paid position in a global foreign corporation with an office in Singapore.

Over lunch one day, an acquaintance, who had "fled" from New York to Singapore for a job and now occupied a high position in an MNC, who analyses the credit card market, asked me, "What do you think of the Singapore-Foreigner Wage Gap?" He obviously meant the large wage gap between so-called foreign talent and struggling Singaporean PMEBs. He vocalized what many in Singapore have been directly impacted by. Lower wages and a loss of jobs to the foreign influx.

All the signs point to a capture of the state by sectarian interests, as Alex Au wrote on his blog.

My office has approximately 40 people. Of the team of 11 associates, only 1 is Singaporean - myself. 3 were from India, 1 from America, 1 from Taiwan, and other foreign countries. One foreign associate had obviously misrepresented his locally-obtained credentials (as a Singaporean could tell, but many foreigners could not) in obtaining his job but was employed.

The company had recently fired 3 well-paid Singaporeans, one after the other - the managing director, the operations director, and another senior director level position. The reason given was a lack of compliance with the US head office. The head office replaced them with an Indonesian, and two foreign born Indians. I don't know how much cheaper their salaries were, but I suspect a Singaporean would have been equally qualified.

Most had no intention to stay in Singapore for more than 2 years. One colleague had been awarded her PR after just 4 months of working in the office. One had skipped from India, to Singapore, and next to a Western country after two years. The whole office was a floating barge of foreigners, hiring foreigners to send profits to the head office, providing precious few Singaporeans with jobs. Is this the purpose of our government's employment policies?
My experience with executives in the financial industry is the same. Overwhelming numbers of foreigners (which are divided into two groups; Indians, Indonesians, and other lower-wage Asian workers, and Western workers from increasingly job-less Western economies) and a speck of Singaporeans. I have been to several networking events where PRC Chinese/Indians/Hong Kongers/Americans/Malaysians are so surprised to meet a Singaporean that they would query me repeatedly: "Are you from Singapore?...Are you really Singaporean?.. Born in Singapore?" Evidence that Singaporeans are a rare and almost extinct breed in well-paid professions. In this way there is a transfer of our tax money from Singaporeans, to support foreign corporations that do not give jobs to Singaporeans.
Singaporeans are right to be angry. The best, well-paying jobs have been stolen for foreigners. And unless something changes, there will be an increasing Singaporean-Foreigner Wage Gap - with Singaporeans the ones earning less.

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