As the title suggests, the focus of the
paper is on the people and how we can take care of their future and
Our policy is aimed at lowering
the number of foreign workers currently in Singapore as well as
tightening the entry of foreigners into the country in the near
future thus creating an environment where Singaporeans can thrive
and enjoy a high quality of life.
To do this, we have drawn up a
comprehensive six-point plan:
1.Enact the Singaporeans First Policy
We will introduce the TalentTrack
Scheme to process applications of foreign PMETs wishing to work in
Singapore. Their suitability will be a merit-based system with
points awarded for a number of factors (age, qualifications, skills, experience,
number of dependents, etc.) to determine if the applicants meet the
economic and population needs of Singapore.
The employment visas of foreign workers
currently in Singapore will be allowed to lapse whereupon they will
have to apply to the TalentTrack Scheme if they wish to continue
working here. Otherwise, they will have to leave.
Singaporean employers will be able to
hire these professionals if they demonstrate that they have made
every effort to employ a Singaporean first but cannot find a local
with the requisite qualifications/skills.
The Employment Visa Commission (EVC)
will also be established to survey, and review at regular intervals,
the skills and human resource needs of the various industries and
sectors of our economy. The EVC will provide the necessary input to the TalentTrack
Scheme to determine the weight given for the various types of professions.
The EVC will comprise representatives
from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Manpower,
independent trade unions, Singapore National Employers' Federation,
and other professional organisations.
Businesses will also be required to
restructure and upgrade their operations over a period so that they
will not be dependent on lower-skilled foreign workers. By
mechanising and automating their businesses, they will be able to
employ more Singaporeans who are increasingly becoming more highly
The net effect of the Singaporeans
First Policy is that we will be able to considerably reduce the
current number of foreign workers in Singapore while, at the same time, only allow into Singapore real foreign talent that our economy needs.
2.Retain Singaporean talent
Singaporeans are emigrating at an
alarming rate. To stem the brain-drain, we need to lower the cost of
living which is creating a highly stressful lifestyle for the people.
Two of the biggest components of a family's household budget is
housing and healthcare.
Lowering HDB prices is dealt with
extensively in our housing policy (see Housing A Nation). Cheaper
housing also means lower office and shop rental which translates into
lower prices of goods and services. The SDP has also proposed
concrete measures to reduce healthcare costs in our National
Another major reason that Singaporeans
cite for leaving Singapore is the education system which emphasizes
rote-learning. School curricular are geared towards exam-taking which
leaves little room for the development of lifelong learning and
creative thinking. The details of the SDP's educational policy will
be laid out in a separate paper.
3.Raise the Total Fertility Rate
Many younger Singaporean couples put
off having children because of two main reasons: the high expenses
incurred with raising children and the difficulty of obtaining an HDB
Reducing the cost of living is outlined
in the preceding section. This will have a significant impact on
Singaporean couples' decision on whether to have more children. The
SDP has also proposed facilitating the ease of younger couples of
obtaining HDB flats through our Young Families Priority Scheme. This
can be read in our housing paper.
4. Introduce the GPI
The PAP uses GDP as a reason to increase population size. It cites GDP
growth as an important factor for Singaporeans' well-being. In truth,
the GDP is not a good indicator of the economic well-being of our
country and it certainly is not a measure of the wealth of the
For example, couples going through
divorces pay for legal services. These fees go into increasing the
GDP. However, it does tremendous damage to our families and children. These have economic costs which are not captured in the GDP.
A better and more accurate index is the
Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) which not only takes into account
the GDP but also the costs incurred in building up the GDP (costs
such as crime, pollution, family breakdown, psychological health,
The GPI is a better indicator of the
overall happiness and quality of life of our people. The GDP may
increase because of the influx of foreigners but the GPI will
accurately capture the effects of an overcrowded city on
Singaporeans. The Government should base its population policy on the
GPI, and not the GDP alone.
5. Strengthen the Singaporean Identity
A massive inflow of foreigners over a
short span of time will not enable the new immigrants to assimilate
into the Singaporean culture. This tears at the social fabric of our
nation. To strengthen our national bond, the Ethnic Integration
Policy which determines the percentage of ethnic HDB dwellers in each
estate should be abolished. The identification of "race" in
our Identity Cards should also be removed.
Such practices serve only to divide
Singaporeans and reinforce how different and separate we are. In the
process, they weaken our identity as Singaporeans.
6. Revamp the ministerial pay formula
Ministerial salaries are based on GDP
growth. This runs the risk of government leaders pushing up the
population size which will increased the GDP but adversely impact on
the well-being of the people.
If ministers' salaries are to be pegged to an
index, it should be the GPI. In this way, the happier Singaporeans
are and the higher their quality of life, the better the ministers are
Building A People: Sound Policies for A Secured Future (pdf) is available for download here.