Mr Sin Wei Xiang has misquoted Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat in his letter (Breaking down data can aid public discourse, Jan 15).
Mr Chee did not say that providing employment data for citizens and permanent residents would drive a wedge between different groups in society. In his Facebook post on Jan 8, Mr Chee said the data had already been provided in Parliament on Jan 6 and asked why Mr Pritam Singh failed to acknowledge this fact in his Jan 7 Facebook post.
In response to a parliamentary question by Mr Singh, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad provided a breakdown of the change in total employment across the 23 industry transformation maps (ITM) sectors between 2015 and 2018. The 23 ITMs cover 80 per cent of Singapore's economy.
The figures provided showed an increase in local employment of 47,900 (39,300 Singapore citizens and 8,600 permanent residents) and a decrease in employment of foreigners of 28,500.
The local employment figure of 47,900 is almost 80 per cent of the 60,000 increase in local employment in the economy from 2015 to 2018.
We agree with Mr Sin on the need for constructive discourse, based on arguments that are backed by accurate facts. The data that was provided contributes to this. Importantly, as we carry out the debate and discussions, we must stay united and work together to grow our economy for the benefit of Singapore and Singaporeans. As Mr Chee said, all attempts to divide and fragment our society must be firmly rejected.
Director, Corporate Communications Division
Ministry of Trade and Industry