'If you look at the last decade, we wanted to grow fast. And there were opportunities to grow fast. Employers were crying for workers. We were trying to tighten the dependency on foreign workers, but the demand for goods and services from Singapore was high, so we liberalised. Then once we reach the limit, you've got to tighten' - SM Goh
You notice there is a total lack of consistency in what the our leaders have been saying with regard to foreign worker policy. This time SM Goh talks about another 2 reasons for bringing in foreign workers - "employers were crying for workers" and "demand for goods and services from Singapore was high". Can anyone tell which employer anywhere in the world wouldn't want to hire foreigners at far lower wages than locals? I'm sure every employer in Norway or Sweden wants to bring in as many Portuguese or Eastern European workers as possible into his company to cut wage costs. The difference between the govt of those countries and the PAP is they understand the negative impact of a big influx on their citizens and did not go for such a thoughtless policy instead they encourage employers to use local labor more effectively and intelligently. As for the remark about the demand for goods and service "being high", this is true for every country from S. Korea to Australia when the global economy is strong - none of these countries did what Singapore did. In S. Korea I'm sure employers would have greatly benefitted if they displaced 30% of their workforce with cheaper foreigners and that would have yielded much higher profits for Samsung and LG - but their concern for their own citizens prevented them from doing that.
Why did SM Goh feel so compelled to answer to the cries of employers ? What about the cries of ordinary citizens - the poorest of whom saw their wages falling over the past 10 years and what about the cries of those who can no longer afford the high cost of living in Singapore.
No U-turn in foreigner policy
By Jeremy Au Yong, Political Correspondent
MANAMA (Bshrain) - THE Government's recent moves to slow the influx of foreigners do not mark a 'sudden turnaround' in policy, said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday.
Rather, it is simply a recognition that the country is nearing what it can accommodate. While foreign worker numbers may still rise, it will now grow more slowly.
Speaking to Singapore reporters in Bahrain at the end of a six-day visit to the Middle East, SM Goh explained that Singapore needed to be open to foreign workers in the past to fuel its rapid growth.
'If you look at the last decade, we wanted to grow fast. And there were opportunities to grow fast. Employers were crying for workers. We were trying to tighten the dependency on foreign workers, but the demand for goods and services from Singapore was high, so we liberalised. Then once we reach the limit, you've got to tighten,' he said.
The Government, he said, constantly monitors its policies and tweaks them where needed.
'Past models which have worked may not work in the future, so we've got to constantly monitor, adjust when necessary, sometimes even discard. But in our case it's modifying the model, not discarding the old model,' he said.