SINGAPORE: Singapore’s parliament on Wednesday passed a resolution seeking to secure jobs and livelihoods for Singaporeans and rejected an opposition proposal on the India-Singapore Free Trade Agreement.
After a marathon debate that began on Tuesday afternoon and lasted till midnight, the 16-year-old Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) was chosen.
According to a report by Channel News Asia, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has an absolute majority in the house.
Non-constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leong Mun Wai of the opposition Progress Singapore Party (PSP) called on the government to take immediate and “concrete action” to address widespread concern among Singaporeans over jobs and livelihoods . Provisions on the movement of natural persons in certain free trade agreements (FTAs) such as the Talent Policy and the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
In lieu of denial, Leong said, “People’s movements in FTAs like CECA are part of a much bigger problem. We still can’t agree that CECA is a net benefit to Singapore.”
This was the second debate on CECA after a debate initiated by the opposition in July 2021.
In his closing remarks, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said that Singapore will see more disruption and instability in the global economy, with new jobs being created and many jobs changing or becoming obsolete.
“How Singapore seizes these opportunities while addressing job concerns will determine our success and whether we remain united and sustained as an individual,” he said.
The report said he criticized the PSP’s arguments as “simple and wishful thinking”, and reiterated that squeezing foreigners would not provide jobs for Singaporeans.
“I think all these arguments miss the most important point, and it is a bitter truth that Singaporeans are great in the workforce, but there are not enough of us,” he said.
Wong cautioned that many companies will not set up shop in Singapore If there are manpower policies that prevent them from hiring international talent, that results in worse outcomes for Singapore workers.
In his own round-up speech, Leong dismissed suggestions that the PSP was attacking foreigners, highlighting that everyone in the House had a say in improving the job prospects and livelihoods of Singaporeans. general purpose”.
While Leong acknowledged that Singapore is in need of foreign talent, he said the government’s foreign employment policies have “displaced” many local professionals, managers and executives (PMEs).
Leong said it is better to prevent displacement in the first place, pointing out that the government should “change course” and gradually reduce foreign work pass numbers.
Acknowledging that an open economy has downsides that don’t benefit everyone, Wong said, “Some have been blown down by the winds of change, and it’s not just a matter of getting on your feet again, Especially when you’re older.
“But the government will provide “the best support” to those who have been dropped, he said.
In the end, I agree that this strategy that I have set out – which the government is pursuing – is not something that is politically easy to implement.”
Wong also cautioned against having a “xenophobic undertone” in Singapore politics.
“We are going down a very slippery slope. It will start with seemingly innocent comments and questions being raised, or dog whistles and coded phrases, but over time, the comments become generic, and Racist and xenophobic sentiments become more prevalent,” he said. .
The Finance Minister said that the debate is not just about jobs and livelihood but also about the values of the country.
He said the proposal to his name talks about Singapore’s overall economic strategy to stay open, connected to the world and address the shortcomings of an open economy as it helps Singaporeans cope and adjust. .
He said Leong’s proposal apparently relates to concerns about jobs, but “continues with a negative campaign to link it to free trade agreements and CECA, and continues to incite racism and xenophobia”.
“So we have to decide where we stand and make a choice,” he said.