Bukit Batok by-election

MOM responds again as Chee repeats jobs claim

SDP's Chee Soon Juan gives a doorstop interview after it was announced that the Bukit Batok by-election date will be held on May 7, 2016.
SDP's Chee Soon Juan gives a doorstop interview after it was announced that the Bukit Batok by-election date will be held on May 7, 2016. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan repeated his claim that the number of jobs created for locals was dismally low, despite the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) clarifying that he had misunderstood the data.

This drew a second response from the MOM yesterday, which said: "We are disappointed that having earlier misunderstood and subsequently read our clarification, Dr Chee continues to deliberately misrepresent our employment data."

At issue is Dr Chee's claim at the SDP's Tuesday rally that there were only 100 jobs created for locals last year. The MOM first clarified on Wednesday that the figure actually represents the "net" number of new jobs taken by locals, and not the total number of new jobs for locals as Dr Chee had claimed. The MOM also said the figure 100 was an advance estimate given in January, which was updated to 700 in March.

At his party's rally last night, Dr Chee portrayed the MOM's clarification as one about the figures. He said: "MOM took issue with me, saying that the number of jobs created for locals was not 100 as I pointed out. Instead it is 700." He further said the mistake had occurred because the MOM could not "get its act together".

To this, MOM said yesterday that "the issue was never about the local employment growth of 100 (which is the advance estimate) versus 700 (which is the final number)".

"It is about Dr Chee's misunderstanding of what that number represents, which is the 'net' number of new jobs taken by locals and not the total number of new jobs for locals," it said. There is a big difference between the two due to people leaving jobs annually such as on retirement.

MOM had said in its first clarification that in misquoting the MOM data, Dr Chee had "painted an alarmist picture of the job market for Singaporeans". At a morning walkabout yesterday, Dr Chee disagreed and said the recent relocation of several offshore and marine companies from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur led him to believe that retrenchment would outstrip the number of jobs created.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2016, with the headline 'MOM responds again as Chee repeats jobs claim'. Print Edition | Subscribe