PSP files motion to debate jobs, foreign workforce policy and Ceca in Parliament

The main focus of the debate would be on how to improve the jobs and livelihoods of Singaporeans. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has filed a private member's motion in Parliament on issues about jobs and foreign workforce policy, the party's Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai said on Tuesday (Aug 31).

In a Facebook post, he said he expects the debate to take place on either the Sept 13 or Sept 14 sitting of Parliament.

The motion, which will allow all MPs to take part in the ensuing debate, states: "That this Parliament calls upon the Government to take urgent and concrete action to address the widespread anxiety among Singaporeans on jobs and livelihood caused by the Foreign Talent Policy and the 'movement of natural persons' provisions in some free trade agreements like Ceca."

Mr Leong said the main focus of the debate would be on how to improve the jobs and livelihoods of Singaporeans.

"Ceca is not our main concern and has been thrust upon us by the Government," he added, referring to the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with India.

The PSP first announced its intention to debate employment policies and Ceca in June.

The following month, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung delivered ministerial statements in Parliament on the importance of free trade pacts and sought to debunk falsehoods on Ceca. They also emphasised that changes in foreign workforce numbers over time are to be expected, alongside transformations in policies and industry needs.

In an exchange with Mr Ong in the House, Mr Leong said the PSP did not agree that Ceca was "net beneficial" to Singapore at this stage, and that it remains to be studied whether the pact has contributed to an influx of foreign nationals from India.

During his National Day Rally on Sunday (Aug 29), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the "campaign against Ceca" claimed to be about putting Singaporeans first but had strong racial undertones.

He also said the Government would continue to tighten the criteria for Employment Pass and S Pass holders over time by raising salary cut-offs, and introduce anti-discrimination laws, including by creating a tribunal to deal with workplace discrimination.

On Tuesday, Mr Leong said PM Lee had addressed anxieties over foreign work pass holders in his speech but "did not announce new concrete policies that would resolve the problem fundamentally".

"The other policies announced in recent days by the Government also did not show its full appreciation of the severity of the problems faced by Singaporean workers," he added.

Mr Leong also said the PSP would be entering the debate with incomplete information, which he attributed to the Government not answering most of the 23 parliamentary questions filed by the party.

"However, the overwhelming feedback from thousands of Singaporeans has given us a good picture of their lived experiences and the actual situation on the ground," he said. "That coupled with your continued encouragement and support will be our greatest weapon for the debate."

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