Forum: Give foreigners residing in Singapore long-term a chance at a job

I refer to the article "Proposed measures to strengthen support for PMEs" (Oct 22).

I feel that the recommendations by the National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation seem to discriminate against foreign workers, especially those who are living in Singapore long-term.

I'm a foreigner married to another foreigner and have been residing in Singapore since November last year.

I have been volunteering for a social enterprise helping to create social impact in Singapore. But I need to find a paying job in Singapore very soon.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong's Parliament speech about how the thinking that reducing the number of foreigners here will allow Singaporeans to automatically fill those jobs is flawed was inspiring (Singapore will lose investments and jobs if it curbs global firms' hiring: Wong, Sept 15).

His speech reflects the best ideals of Singapore society.

However, the speech does not reflect the reality faced by unemployed foreign dependants and students who are legally residing in Singapore in the long term.

It is difficult for them to find employment because of the recent change that requires dependant's pass holders to obtain employment passes if they want to work in Singapore.

I discovered that foreign students residing in Singapore and foreign dependants whose foreign spouses are working in Singapore are often rejected by employers despite their competitive qualifications.

The first question potential employers always ask is if applicants are Singapore citizens or permanent residents.

Saying no to this question usually disqualifies the applicant from obtaining a job.

Most employers do not want to go through the hassle of obtaining an employment pass for a foreign hire, especially since it takes two months or so for an employment pass to be issued.

Of the 1,029 Singapore job applications I made since November last year, I was interviewed nine times, four of which started and ended with the "are you a Singaporean or a permanent resident" question.

I understand the spirit of the Government's attempt to ensure that all Singaporeans are given fair employment opportunities. I still believe that the Government and most Singaporeans are fair and reasonable.

Please give unemployed foreigners who are already legally residing long-term in Singapore a fair chance to obtain a paying job based on merit and qualifications. A global hub cannot work without diverse foreign talents.

I believe I can contribute unique and immediate value to Singapore. I do not want to leave Singapore and leave my spouse alone in Singapore. And I remain hopeful.

Raymond Ong

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.