SINGAPORE: Instead of accusing foreign workers of taking jobs away from Singaporeans, one company said Singaporeans should be thankful that foreign workers are able to help the country’s economy to grow.
This stance coincides with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s message in his May Day Rally speech on Thursday. Chinese national Yu Ruo came to Singapore about seven years ago and found a job at manufacturing company, Makino Asia. With a stable income, he was able to bring his wife to Singapore two years ago, and the couple applied for permanent residency last month.
"First of all, Makino Asia is one of the better known companies in the industry, so this attracted me to come to Singapore and settle here," said Yu.
About 15 percent of Makino Asia’s 470 employees are foreign workers. Over the years, 30 percent of them have become permanent residents or Singapore citizens.
Unfortunately, not all Singaporeans welcome foreign workers with open arms.
"For the time being, foreigners are not allowed to work in this market," one Singaporean said. "Yes, they (foreigners) are stealing our rice bowl. And most of them are using illegal means," another said.
Dr Moh Chong Tau, CEO of Makino Asia, said: "I do not agree. In fact, we should be thankful to them for creating more jobs for us… For jobs that are not taken up by Singaporeans, we get foreigners to occupy those vacancies in order to create more jobs."
He also said Singaporeans who feel their jobs are being taken away by foreigners are short-sighted. "This group of people should not be fearful about losing low-end jobs to foreign workers. They should take the opportunity to acquire more skills and enhance their revenue and livelihood," he said.
Dr Moh believes Singaporeans should compete with advanced countries where the value of jobs is much higher, which means such jobs also command better wages.
Frankly, all these years, I’ve never understood the fuss about foreign workers by Singaporeans. Why complain that they are taking away jobs? Why complain about their presence in our void decks? Why complain that they are different from us?
Not that I want to spout what the Gahmen earnestly taught us in school and continues to hammer on our heads with the state media, but really, common sense and conscience should tell you that nobody owes us a living.
Sometimes, I wonder, have we become so full of ourselves on this little island that we cannot accept that other people may speak and behave differently from what we’re accustomed to? I mean, it does take a little while to get used to the mainlander accent, but hey, that lady cooks a mean ban mian.
Xenophobia’s been around for a long time but to need to have the Gahmen constantly telling us to stop fretting about foreign workers in our midst? C’mon people. We’re made of tougher stock than that.
Perhaps I’m just having wishful thinking, but sometimes I do believe when my forefathers came to this hot (hot) island, they possessed way more steel in their backbone than their descendants do today. They were the immigrants, and I wonder what the natives thought of their entry into the island. Everyone had to fight to make their lives worthwhile, so what makes it different now?
The difference is that we are no more eligible for the same job than any other person with the same qualifications and same desire to make it happen. Are we so insecure we cannot deal with competition? Must we paint ourselves as being privileged?
I remember a turning point in my life when I was in Sec One and my classmates were mostly Malaysians and ASEAN scholars. I didn’t understand very well why they would tolerate the hassle of travelling across the Causeway, or leave their home in KL, just to study in Singapore, but over the year of 1989, they taught me why they just couldn’t bear to study in a country where they were being impacted by Malaysian education policy. But they, and obviously their parents, sought a much better life despite the odds, and they were willing to tough it out and be away from their families at a young age.
Today, most of those guys are highly successful, either docs or lawyers or whatever, and perhaps they don’t think too hard about the tough times they had to endure in secondary school. But I do, and I still admire them for what they did in order to excel.
Granted, they were all pretty smart guys, and had the ability to get scholarships that most people can’t. But there’s no point being smart without being ambitious or knowing the way out of the mire. And they sure didn’t need any civil servant to tell them to overcome the odds.
If young Singaporeans still need the Gahmen to tell them what is the right thing to do, or just the simple matter of how not to fear the unknown, then I believe we’re done for as a society.