Foreign worker supply tops Ask Tharman list

SOME 5,000 votes have been cast at as of Wednesday, with topics like the economy and politics topping the list of questions to be posed to Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

After six days, with just one day of voting to go, in the Ask DPM Tharman exercise, the question most people want the DPM and Finance Minister to answer is how much more the Government will tighten the foreign worker tap.

Questions about Singapore's economic future, taxes and the still hot property market were close behind - the key topics raised in last month's Budget debate appear to be still fresh in the mind.

Singapore's restructuring featured heavily during the two-week debate in Parliament, and many businesses were especially concerned about how the changes would affect the supply of foreign labour.

But readers also wanted to get DPM Tharman's views on the changing political landscape, and how the ruling People's Action Party will try to win back votes.

"From the top questions chosen, cost concerns seem to be a common thread," said Barclays Capital economist Leong Wai Ho. "Rising costs affect both businesses and households. They are worried about economic restructuring and inflation, and want to know where the economy is headed."

For the Ask DPM Tharman exercise, The Straits Times compiled questions from economists and analysts that they wanted to pose to the Deputy Prime Minister. The questions ranged from the personal to those that sought his views on a variety of domestic issues.

Last Friday, 20 questions were put online for public voting. The 10 questions with the most votes at the end of today will be posed to DPM Tharman, who will answer them in a video interview.