SingFirst brings up foreign labour issue

Mr Tan Jee Say of the Singaporeans First party speaking to the media yesterday. The SingFirst candidates introduced were (seated, from left) Mr Tan Peng Ann (hidden), Mr Wong Soon Hong, Dr Ang Yong Guan, Dr David Foo Ming Jin and Mr Sukdeu Singh.
Mr Tan Jee Say of the Singaporeans First party speaking to the media yesterday. The SingFirst candidates introduced were (seated, from left) Mr Tan Peng Ann (hidden), Mr Wong Soon Hong, Dr Ang Yong Guan, Dr David Foo Ming Jin and Mr Sukdeu Singh.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

Immigration policies causing more S'poreans to 'suffer from psychological problems'

Singaporeans First (SingFirst), one of the newest political parties, has hit out again at what it calls the Government's "liberal immigration policies" in the past decade.

"I'm afraid in the last 10 years, things have gotten worse with the influx of foreign workers," said chairman Ang Yong Guan.

The 60-year-old psychiatrist was speaking at a press conference yesterday, where a second and final batch of candidates for the Sept 11 polls was introduced.

Besides Dr Ang, the others introduced were chemist David Foo Ming Jin, 51, retired police officer Sukdeu Singh, 64, sales director Wong Soon Hong, 57, and retired army colonel Tan Peng Ann, 67.

This brings to 10 the number of candidates the party will field. It will contest the Jurong and Tanjong Pagar GRCs but has not said who will stand where.


  • Concerned about the plight of seniors

    Tan Peng Ann, 67

    Occupation: Retired army colonel

    Family: Married to a housewife, 66, with two children, aged 37 and 38

    Education: Bachelor of Arts, National University of Singapore

    Hobbies: Reading

    Why politics?

    I'm doing it for my grandchildren. I'm concerned about the short-sightedness of certain policies that have affected Singaporeans, particularly seniors.

    Why you?

    I've years of experience in community service, management and leadership positions. I studied in Raffles Institution and have a degree in Political Science and History. With this background, I can help Singaporeans better.

    What issues will you focus on?

    The long-term impact of education and population policies, and issues seniors face.

    Favourite spot in Singapore?

    Home. It's time to take two steps back and do more meaningful reading.

    Giving a voice to the elderly and their issues

    Wong Soon Hong, 57

    Occupation: Sales director of a local trading firm

    Family: Divorced

    Education: Bachelor of Social Science, University of Western Ontario

    Hobbies: Online gaming, curling and ice-skating

    Why politics?

    I want to speak up for the elderly.

    Why you?

    I have been participating in grassroots activities since young. I've been travelling in China, Vietnam and Malaysia over the past several years and I have noticed disparities between our political and social programmes compared with these countries.

    I feel that we have somewhat deteriorated, and I must do something about it.

    What issues will you focus on?

    I am concerned with the rising cost of living and escalating home prices. I will also focus on issues that senior citizens in Singapore face.

    Favourite spot in Singapore?

    Night Safari. I like the animal shows.

    Politics is 'a sense of responsibility'

    Dr David Foo Ming Jin, 51

    Occupation: Chemist

    Family: Married to an educationist in her 50s; they have a 20-year-old daughter

    Education: PhD, Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Idaho

    Hobbies: Cooking and reading

    Why politics?

    I view politics as a sense of responsibility. I am greatly concerned that incomes have stagnated in the last 10 years.

    Why you?

    I've always been concerned about politics since secondary school. I often ask: "What if our government goes rogue? Do we have an alternative?"After so many years of asking these questions, I have decided to offer the alternative.

    What issues will you focus on?

    Government transparency, issues faced by the middle class, issues of income inequality.

    Favourite spot in Singapore?

    East Coast Park. I live nearby and I go there to walk my dog.

    Keen to help the poor and hungry children

    Sukdeu Singh, 64

    Occupation: Retired police officer

    Family: Divorced; he has a 26-year-old son

    Education: General Certificate of Education

    Hobbies: Reading and writing

    Why politics?

    I am motivated by the British administration. I felt they had taken very good care of Singapore when we were its colony. I am grateful to them. They did a good job. I want to look after Singaporeans well, too.

    Why you?

    I came from a very difficult background. My dad became blind when we were still very young, and I received free textbooks when I was in school. I was also given milk to drink in school because I was weak.

    What issues will you focus on?

    I'm concerned about poverty, about children who go to school hungry. I also want to help those who use wheelchairs and live in one-room flats.

    Favourite spot in Singapore?

    I love Changi Beach. Changi Village's old-world charm brings back memories.

Foo said he is also concerned by the way Singapore's economic growth was achieved largely through "labour and capital".

As a result, not only have incomes stagnated, but also "income splits" are no longer between average earners and the rich, but "between citizens and foreigners, private and state-owned companies... This is not a sustainable situation for any country to be in".

Mr Tan said current policies on foreign labour need an overhaul, with a key change being the way Singaporeans view blue-collar jobs.

"When I go to the hospital for a check-up, the nurses and doctors are foreigners. Why aren't locals doing these jobs?" he asked.

If elected, candidates will push for a change in mindset towards blue-collar work, such as in construction, through education.

Dr Ang said liberal immigration policies caused more Singaporeans to suffer from psychological problems, and related an incident where he said a local was passed over for a promotion that went to a foreigner instead: "He felt insecure as a Singaporean. He broke down, he couldn't eat, sleep and he had an anxiety attack... When we go into Parliament, we will fix it."

SingFirst secretary-general Tan Jee Say said the influx of foreigners is "a very sad thing" and suggested that they did not integrate well.

"My children watch night-time football and we order from McDonald's. The people who deliver it were our adik (younger brothers in Malay) and they will talk about their favourite football team," he said. "Now, the deliverymen are from China. They are not interested in football, only ping-pong. So how do we communicate?"

SingFirst also said its $6 billion social safety net plan to help poor and middle-class Singaporeans - announced on Friday - would be funded by the Net Investment Returns Framework in the Constitution.

The party will introduce monthly cash allowances of $300 for children and the elderly and subsidise healthcare, transport and childcare fees, but without raiding the reserves, said Dr Ang.

This final group of five candidates has a wealth of experience, compared with the four introduced on Friday, who were aged between 36 and 48, he added.

To attract younger members, the party will set up a youth wing, Young First, and engage younger Singaporeans via social media.

Dr Ang also addressed an error spotted by netizens in the party's Tamil tagline on a banner . "We embrace imperfection. At least we admitted it and we corrected it within hours," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 30, 2015, with the headline 'SingFirst brings up foreign labour issue'. Print Edition | Subscribe