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10 years after assuring S'poreans over foreign influx, PM Lee still says he understands and will manage it


10 years after assuring S'poreans over foreign influx, PM Lee still says he understands and will manage it
In his 2021 National Day Message which was delivered on Sunday (8 Aug), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the Government “must address Singaporeans’ anxieties over foreign work pass holders”.
He assured everyone that his government would have to adjust immigration policies so as to “manage the quality, numbers, and concentrations of foreigners in Singapore”.
PM Lee noted that Singaporeans understand the country needs to welcome the talent and expertise that the Singapore’s economy needs.
“Work pass holders help expand our economy and create more opportunities for us. When we complement our own workforce with skills from around the world, more companies will invest here, and this then creates more jobs for Singaporeans,” he explained.
“However, when the number of work pass holders is large, our people naturally become worried about competition for jobs.”
PM Lee also acknowledged that while foreign work pass holders reinforce Singaporeans, they may also compete directly with their local colleagues.
“Sometimes the locals feel unfairly treated, for instance when they miss out on being hired or promoted. Outside work, from time to time there are also social frictions, because some work pass holders and their families have not fully adapted to our social norms, nor fully integrated into our society,” he added.
“I understand these anxieties and problems. The government is addressing them. We have to adjust our policies to manage the quality, numbers and concentrations of foreigners in Singapore.”
However, PM Lee cautioned that turning inwards would be against Singapore’s fundamental interests because it would damage Singapore’s standing as a global and regional hub.

10 years ago, PM Lee also said S’pore will manage inflow of foreign workers and immigrants

Interestingly, this is not the first time PM Lee has acknowledged that his government needs to address Singaporeans’ anxieties over the influx of foreign workers to Singapore.
At the 2011 National Day Rally, just three months after his ruling party lost the first GRC to the opposition in the General Election that year, PM Lee said that he “fully” understood and empathised with Singaporeans’ concerns over various matters that caused “anxiety from time to time”.
Indeed, one of the matters was also about the inflow of foreign workers and immigrants.
At the time, he promised, “But we are tackling these problems, building more flats, improving our public transport, managing the inflow of foreign workers and immigrants. It will take a while to solve these problems… but we are heading in the right direction and things will gradually get better.”
PM Lee expressed that he empathised with Singaporeans and that his government was “acting to relieve the pressures and to make clear that we are putting Singaporeans first”.
He assured that his government had “tightened up on foreigners progressively”. He then highlighted that the minimum qualifying salary for S Pass holders had been raised from S$1,800 to S$2,000. He also assured to raise the salary requirement for the Employment Pass holders while tightening up the educational qualifications so as to “make sure they come with real skills valuable to us”.
“Yes we will moderate and manage the foreign workers but we have to bring in enough so that we have the manpower and the talent to grow and to prosper. This is what we must do when it comes to putting Singaporeans first, stay open but moderate our policies, solve the problems, whether it is housing, whether it is education, whether it is jobs,” PM Lee promised at the rally 10 years ago.
“It has worked, we have brought global winners here and we have created prosperity for Singaporeans.”
It is noteworthy that the Government is still having to step up its policies on foreign labour after GE2020.
In August last year, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced that 30 of the 47 companies put on watchlist for suspected discriminatory hiring practices, came from the financial and professional services sectors. All 30 were found to have a “high concentration of PMETs from single nationalities”.
According to the Ministry, in one financial institution, almost three-quarters of their PMETs are of the “same nationality”; and in another bank, almost two-thirds of the PMETs are also of the “same nationality”.
It is not known why MOM decided to issue so many work passes to these foreigners of the same nationality working in those banks in the first place.
Earlier in March this year, the Ministry announced that spouses or family members of foreigners working in Singapore on Dependent’s Passes (DPs) will need to obtain a work pass to work in the city-state from 1 May, instead of a letter of consent.
Netizens who are aware of this matter opined that such changes were overdue.
While MOM raised the minimum qualifying salary for foreign EP candidates in the financial sector to S$5,000 for new applications in December last year, PAP MP for Pioneer SMC Patrick Tay said in Parliament that he has heard of employers who deliberately “downgraded” foreign Employment Pass (EP) holders to S Pass holders in order to comply with the new foreign employment policy changes instituted last year, although these workers were performing essentially the same job functions.
So, 10 years later, after losing a second GRC last year, PM Lee is still talking about addressing “Singaporeans’ anxieties” over foreign workers, while assuring everyone that his government would adjust policies so as to manage the “quality, numbers, and concentrations of foreigners” in Singapore.

True Believer

Private homes have increased by 150% and COEs for Cat B cars are now $150,000. A good quality of life in S'pore is only reserved for the Top 20%.

True Believer

The concept of overcrowded HDB estates and public transport is alien to our politicians who are accustomed to living in GCBs and driving/being driven in luxurious cars.


I don't know if this kind of living costs is sustainable.
It may be sustainable for Jiu hu Kia, it's not sustainable for most of us.

True Believer

There are 5.9 million people in S'pore and only 532,000 private passenger cars here. That means that 90% of S'poreans do not own cars. What does that say about our quality of life as a developed country?


I can almost sure, next Election comes, all PAP candidate will hold a "Ong-Lai" during their walkabout