The SDP reported on this website the contradictions made by the PAP Government over the foreign-workers’ policy. Over a period of less than two years, the authorities swung from wanting to reduce the number of foreigners coming into Singapore to increasing it. (See here)
This can perhaps be traced to Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s recent Lunar New Year speech at the Tanjong Pagar GRC where he insisted that Singaporeans accept his party’s policy of encouraging the mass immigration of foreign workers to Singapore.
This is, to a large degree, not surprising as Mr Lee has been championing the current immigration policy since it was first mooted. In January 2011, he repeated that “we need young immigrants. Otherwise our economy will slow down”. For good measure, he added, “like the Japanese economy.” (See here)
A year earlier, however, he averred that, “We’ve grown in the last five years by just importing labour. Now, the people feel uncomfortable, there are too many foreigners. Trains are overcrowded with foreigners, buses too, property prices have gone up because foreigners with permanent residence are buying into the market.” (See here)
His solution? “We check the flow of foreigners, raise your productivity, do the job better, so that instead of two workers, eventually you’ll do it with one worker…” Then he added: “Like the Japanese do.”
Within a period of 12 months, Mr Lee swung from pointing out the problems of an overcrowded city and pledging to reduce the number of foreigners in Singapore to adamantly insisting that we need yet more foreign workers.
And in both instances, he cited the Japanese experience. To make his case for more foreign workers, he said that Japan was an ageing society and hence needed an infusion of young immigrants.
To make his other case for less foreign workers, he noted that Japan had limited the intake of foreigners which raised the productivity of the Japanese workforce.
With clarity like this, who needs confusion?
More than confusion, however, Mr Lee’s contradictions signal a deeper problem for Singaporeans. The former Minister Mentor’s remarks are reflected in the Government’s current muddle-headedness over the immigration policy. They betray a lack of certainty by the PAP on how we should proceed into the future.
Given the Government’s lack of clarity, should we not slowdown the process and thoroughly investigate the economic, social and political ramifications before rushing to bring in so many people onto this island?
The SDP has repeatedly warned that if such a policy fails, the consequences will be catastrophic. Singaporeans should be very worried.