Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Paying the price of closing S'pore's Gates

Time to ease up on anti-immigration, anti-growth rhetoric as reality starts to bite
ST ILLUSTRATION: ADAM LEE - By WARREN FERNANDEZ, Editor Published on Feb 8, 2015 1:01 AM

I am done, declared Roland, putting his fork down with a thud. Thinking this signalled a premature end to our fondue dinner, I reached for my napkin and prepared to rise from the table.
"I am done with this country," said my host, beckoning me to stay and have more cheese and wine. "I am moving my business. I can deal with new laws, new taxes, new politicians or bureaucrats, but if I can't get the people to help me do the work, then it just does not make sense."
He planned to relocate his small family media and events business, after repeated applications for work permits for staff had been rejected by the authorities.

This, he surmised, was in response to popular pressure and rising anti-immigrant sentiments in the country. The Singaporeans at the table looked on knowingly; it all sounded rather familiar.

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ST Editor wants Singapore’s gates open for FTs
ST Editor, Warren Fernandez, wrote an article today (‘Paying the price of closing S’pore’s gates’, 8 Feb) arguing that it’s time for Singapore to ease up on anti-immigration, anti-growth rhetoric

He said that in many of the Western societies, stagnating economies are giving rise to growing disillusionment with mainstream parties’ ability to deliver on their economic promises, leading to voters “flirting with fringe politicians who offer populist quick fixes, including curbing immigration to protect jobs and local cultures”.

He said that these trends are seen closer to home too.

“In Singapore, we have heard similar cries from businessmen, lamenting that ever-tightening curbs on the flow of foreign workers is crushing their businesses. Not a few corporate chiefs, local and foreign, have voiced similar ‘I am done’ lines to me, in utter despair of finding the people they need to keep up, let alone grow, their operations,” he said, nevermind if Singapore’s population already consists of close to 40% of foreigners, one of the highest in the world.

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Warren Fernandez, a Straits Times Editor, published an article about how the tightening foreign labour laws are causing trouble in Singapore

Titled 'Paying the price of closing S'pore's Gates' (8 Feb), Mr Fernandez said that we should stop being so anti-immigration and anti-growth.

He said that businesses are suffering because of a lack of labour. However, it is confusing what Mr Fernandez is suggesting exactly as foreigners already make up 40% of our population.

Is it worth it to sacrifice our national identity, dilute our populace and allow Singapore to become nothing but a good place to do business? What is the point of running a country if "success" means reducing the people to just another number in the corporate machine?

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ST’s opinion section has a horrible, waste-of-ink-and-paper article by its editor Warren Fernandez arguing against recent moderation in importing migrants to support economic growth ("Paying the price of closing S'pore's gates"; link in the comments)

First, let me take issue with his language, since he is supposed to be the editor of the English daily. He writes “But these [anti-immigration] trends are seen closer to home too. In Singapore…”

Mr Editor, Singapore is not “closer to home”—Singapore *is* home. Why not just write “But these trends are seen at home too”? Stop trying to add literary flair where it makes no sense!

The rest of the piece is a long comparison between Switzerland and Singapore, and makes the point that our “anti-foreigner, anti-growth mood” is going to cause grave damage to our economy.

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Warren Fernandez vs Han Fook Kwang

What a contrast between Warren Fernandez and his predecessor Han Fook Kwang. I told myself sometime back never to read anything from Fernandez again. I broke that rule today because I read some very sharp and negative comments on Facebook about his piece today. I regretted the time wasted reading his article.

A minister reading it would have responded, "lucky you are not doing my job, with that attitude you would be looking for another job"

On the other hand Han Fook Kwang's suggestion of taking away all cleaners from our schools and getting the kids to take charge of cleanliness is worthy of further study and trying.

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Related: “Go easy on the anti-foreigner” rhetoric, says ST editor
In his piece for the Straits Times over the weekend, Warren Fernandez made a pitch for Singaporeans to “go easy” on the “anti-foreigner ‘Singaporean first’ rhetoric” which he says “has become so popular these days.”

Fernandez was writing his views about the Malaysian government’s handling of the disappearance of Malaysia Airline flight MH370, which has captured the world’s attention – more than a week after it vanished seemingly into thin air, with 227 passengers and 12 staff onboard. Fernandez’s article, titled, “MISSING MH370: A mystery, with some revelations”, offered 5 “lessons” which he said Singapore should or could learn from the MH370 incident.

Among the five “lessons” he listed is one which is about why it is important to “pick the right people… for key jobs, with the necessary skills, experience, character and temperament.” “Finding the best people,” Fernandez writes, “must entail appointing whoever can do the job best, regardless of gender, race, age, background, or even nationality.”

He then offered this, apparently directed at Singaporeans:
“So please, let’s go easy on the anti-foreigner ‘Singaporean first’ rhetoric that has become so popular these days. Give the job to whoever will deliver when it counts.”
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