Forum: Preserve Singapore's appeal but watch out for any labour imbalance

Amid recent calls for more protection for the Singaporean core in the workforce, I take issue with the notion suggested by some that such a move may erode Singapore's attractiveness to investors.

A narrative like this would send the wrong signal to Singaporeans - that we are beholden to and at the mercy of foreign investors.

Let us not forget that Singapore already offers plenty of benefits to foreign investors.

Our corporate tax rate of 17 per cent is the lowest in Asean and globally competitive. It can even go as low as 5 per cent on incentives.

Singapore's tripartite model provides companies with a labour force that eschews strikes.

We have world-class infrastructure made possible through the thrift and foresight of the Pioneer and Merdeka generations.

During national service, male citizens and permanent residents contribute two years of full-time training and further cycles of in-camp training to form a credible deterrent against external threats.

These are just some favourable conditions that firms would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the region.

Singaporeans accept that as an open city state, local interests need to be balanced against foreign ones.

Yet despite the Fair Consideration Framework, for any nationality to have formed an enclave within a sector would show that regulation of foreign professionals has been too lax (Parliament: About 400 firms on watch list for likely discrimination against Singaporeans, ST Online, Sept 4).

Anti-discrimination laws and more stringent regulations on foreign labour would correct such an imbalance.

Ezra Ho Suhan