Singapore — In Parliament on Tuesday (Sept 14), a ten-hour debate waged regarding jobs, policies on foreign workers, and Free Trade Agreements that ended after midnight.
During the course of the lengthy debate, various voices were heard from the three political parties in Parliament, the People’s Action Party, the Progress Singapore Party, as well as the Workers’ Party, helmed by Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, who called for greater transparency from the government with regards to data concerning foreign workers.
At the end of the session, the Workers’ Party Members of Parliament voted against the motions that had been filed by Finance Minister Lawrence Wong and PSP Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai.
The WP posted a photo of nine MPs on the steps of Parliament after the debate, with the following caption:
“A big shout out from the Workers’ Party MPs at Parliament at 1230am today, after a long session debating today’s jobs, FTAs and foreign talent motions!
WP MPs voted against both the PAP and PSP motions because the amendments we proposed in Parliament to both motions on better information disclosure to improve employment policies could not be carried.
However we were glad to have contributed to this important debate. Five WP MPs spoke, putting forth our ideas on FTAs, foreign talent and jobs for Singaporeans.”
Here is the motion that Mr Wong had tabled on Sept 8:
SECURING SINGAPOREANS’ JOBS AND LIVELIHOODS: That this House:
(a) acknowledges Singaporeans’ anxieties about jobs and competition in a globalized and fast-changing economy;
(b) affirms Singapore’s needs to stay open and connected to the world in order to grow and prosper;
(c) supports Government actions to manage the population of foreign manpower, ensure fair treatment by employers, and invest in education and upskilling, to create more good jobs for Singaporeans;
(d) calls on the Government to continue to update and improve its policies to secure the well-being and livelihoods of Singaporeans in an uncertain post-pandemic world; and
(e) deplores attempts to spread misinformation about free trade agreements like the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), stir up racism and xenophobia, and cause fear and anxiety amongst Singaporeans.
The Leader of the Opposition had proposed an addition to the motion, which is as follows:
(f) calls on the Government to proactively release information on jobs and employment prospects of Singaporeans and the costs and benefits of free trade agreements and foreign worker policies, with a view to formulating better policies to ensure Singaporeans secure good jobs in Singapore and are not disadvantaged when seeking employment.
Additionally, he proposed an amendment to part (c) of Mr Wong’s motion so that it would read: “Calls for stronger Government actions to manage the population of foreign manpower, ensure fair treatment by employers, and invest in education and upskilling, to create more good jobs for Singaporeans.”
The Workers’ Party leader made clear the party’s stand on Free Trade Agreements in general, and the controversial Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), in particular.
He said the WP accepts that genuine economic concerns exist, but added that the party “abhors and condemns the racism and xenophobia that have become part of the public narrative,” both online and in everyday situations.
And even without the PSP focusing on these concerns, the issue is still there, he added, noting that job displacement is a legitimate concern, with Singaporeans finding themselves replaced by foreigners at work. /TISG
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