PSP takes up Shanmugam's challenge to debate Ceca and foreign employment policies

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam (left) and Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam (left) and Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai.PHOTOS: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has accepted the challenge to debate employment policies and the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca), said Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai on Tuesday (June 22).

Writing on Facebook, he added that the opposition party would seek further information from the Government at the parliamentary sitting in July to prepare for the debate which was first mooted by Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam in May.

"Subsequently, the PSP will decide on a suitable time to file a motion," said Mr Leong. "It will be then up to the Speaker's discretion to confirm the date of the debate."

He told The Straits Times that the party would be asking questions related to the number of employment passes, S passes and work passes issued from 2005 to 2020.

"It is in public interest that all data and information regarding our employment situation is revealed. We are concerned about the lack of opportunities for our local workforce due to unfair hiring practices in some sectors," said Mr Leong.

Other draft parliamentary questions by the PSP, seen by ST, include a request for a breakdown of industries and commonly-held jobs for nationals from China, India, Australia and the United States.

Ceca has been criticised in some quarters as paving the way for Indian nationals to nick jobs in Singapore from locals and it is an issue the PSP has raised on multiple occasions.

In Parliament last month, Mr Shanmugam said there have been "several canards" about Ceca. "If anyone here believes that Ceca is a problem, put it up for a motion, debate it openly and let's hear whether Singaporeans benefit or lose from it."

"I'm looking at you, Mr Leong," he added then. "I invite you to put up a motion to debate Ceca. You know that most of what is said about Ceca is false."

On Tuesday, Mr Leong said the PSP would take up the gauntlet despite its "limited resources" because the party believes in "protecting our domestic economy and our people".

He said Singaporeans and their companies lacked the financial buffer to weather the economic fallout from Covid-19 pandemic and attributed this to economic and tax policies resulting in widespread social inequalities.

The main economic policies affecting jobs and livelihoods relate to foreign PMETs and free trade agreements, in particular Ceca, said Mr Leong.

"PSP feels strongly that the time to rebalance the interests of the Singaporeans vis-a-vis foreign PMETs in the job market is long overdue," he wrote. "This rebalancing may involve the recouping of tens of thousands of jobs from work pass holders through tighter enforcement of our employment rules, amongst other measures.

"This will affect a portion of the total foreign PMETs in our workforce but is a necessary step to create a win-win situation for both Singaporeans and foreign nationals."

He urged the Government to engage in the debate with "grace, openness, transparency and trust that we all have Singapore's interests at heart".