Politics

Letter on thrust of parliamentary debates sends mixed signals

The letter, "Thrust of parliamentary debates can send message to young" (Sept 18), sends mixed signals.

While Mr Viswa Sadasivan claims to be against the racial connotations in the discourse on the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca), he rejects efforts to put a stop to them.

The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) had gone about its campaign against Ceca with a racial agenda.

As even Mr Leong Mun Wai eventually acknowledged, his repeated comments on this matter could be viewed as having racial undertones, and added an unnecessary racial angle to the debate.

Moreover, his proposal of a nationality cap made clear that Indian nationals remain the target of PSP's campaign, with Ceca being a convenient code word.

The Government had rebutted the PSP's claims about Ceca. In the ministerial statements delivered on July 6, it dispelled PSP's assertion that Ceca is the root cause for the increase in Indian work pass holders.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng clarified that intra-corporate transfers from India, another target of the PSP's attack, were a mere 500 out of the over 170,000 Employment Pass holders from various countries.

Mr Leong first seemed to half-accept these facts, then changed his mind, and finally said he did not know enough to accept or reject them.

Repeated assurances that the majority of new local PMET (professional, managerial, executive and technician) jobs went to local-born Singaporeans, or that 80 per cent of PMET jobs here were held by locals, also failed to satisfy him.

Even though globalisation and free trade have benefited most Singaporeans, we know a significant portion of our people have not benefited.

And though most of the downsides of globalisation would have occurred whether or not we had foreigners here, we know that some Singaporeans have been discriminated against in some companies.

The Government has said it will introduce anti-discrimination legislation and will do all it can to help displaced Singaporeans. But we cannot in the meantime afford to close up against the world, do away with free trade agreements or reject global talent.

Yip Hon Weng

Member of Parliament

Yio Chu Kang SMC

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2021, with the headline 'Letter on thrust of parliamentary debates sends mixed signals'. Subscribe