Rebalancing the Foreign Talent Model to Secure Singaporeans’ Jobs and Livelihoods

The #PSPJobsDebate is now scheduled for Tuesday, 14 September.

Interestingly, the Minister of Finance has also tabled a motion today similar to mine for debate on the same day, 14 September.

I have put the two motions together below for your information. Unfortunately, many Singaporeans may be confused why there is a need for two similar motions on the same day.

My Motion: (filed on 31 August 2021)

FOREIGN TALENT POLICY: That this Parliament calls upon the Government to take urgent and concrete action to address the widespread anxiety among Singaporeans on jobs and livelihoods caused by the foreign talent policy and the provisions on Movement of Natural Persons in some free trade agreements like the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.

Minister of Finance Motion: (filed on 8 September 2021)


(a) acknowledges Singaporeans’ anxieties about jobs and competition in a globalized and fast-changing economy;

(b) affirms Singapore’s needs to stay open and connected to the world in order to grow and prosper;

(c) supports Government actions to manage the population of foreign manpower, ensure fair treatment by employers, and invest in education and upskilling, to create more good jobs for Singaporeans;

(d) calls on the Government to continue to update and improve its policies to secure the well-being and livelihoods of Singaporeans in an uncertain post-pandemic world; and

(e) deplores attempts to spread misinformation about free trade agreements like the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), stir up racism and xenophobia, and cause fear and anxiety amongst Singaporeans.

However, I am still looking forward to have an open, objective and fruitful debate in Parliament, with the aim of forging a consensus on how to rebalance the Foreign Talent Model. I certainly hope we will not be bogged down with unhelpful political posturing and labelling that obscures the real issue at hand; but arrive at agreeable and concrete decisions.

The crux of the matter is about jobs and livelihood of Singaporeans. The local job market badly needs readjustment to foster fair competition between Singaporeans and foreign workers.

The PSP subscribes to foreigners working in our midst, helping us in nation building. It is through no fault of theirs that Singapore is saddled with this uncomfortable situation of a labour force imbalance. The root cause can be traced to our Foreign Talent Policy, conceptualised in the late 1990s but only mandated in the Population White Paper of 2013.

The assumption that foreign talent is the silver bullet to boost our population, reduce business cost and create jobs for Singaporeans, all at same time is turning into a fallacy. The Government has inadvertently let in a larger number of foreigners than what our society can accommodate. Hence, the Foreign Talent Policy has thrown our country out of gear as shown in the 3 infographics below. The #PSPJobsDebate is to address and seek answers to this conundrum.

“We hope that all our foreign friends will understand that this rebalancing is necessary for the sustainability and benefit of both parties. It does not mean that we want a closed Singapore. We certainly do not encourage a “Us vs.Them” mentality.

Rather, this rebalancing is to place our economic cooperation on a firmer footing for a more rewarding relationship going forward. We will always need you to complement our Singaporean Core.”

We hope that all Singaporeans and foreigners recognise the present state of affairs and support this Parliamentary debate.

Thank you.

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