Political activist Gilbert Goh had recently encouraged people via his Facebook to vent their anger at a huge poster of PM Lee, which he planned to display at the “labour day protest”, which was to be held at Hong Lim Park. This prompted the Police to issue a stern warning against such act.
Goh felt that PM Lee was siding with foreigners and chastised locals who voted him into office. Goh felt that by doing so, PM Lee was inviting others to take over his own country. The crux of Goh’s grievance is basically the influx of foreigners into the economy that has threatened the job security of Singaporeans. And he is not the only one with such a view.
But the question that should be asked is; why the need for foreigners? The answer perhaps lies in the old capitalist adage; supply and demand. If there is no demand for foreign talents (FTs), they will not come to Singapore. So the next question should be; why is there a demand for FTs? It must be said that the demand is not created by the government. There are no foreigners in the civil service. Rather the demand is in large part due to the thirst of companies, local and foreign, for workers.
So as the Singapore economy grows, the need for workers will increase. If the need cannot be met by Singaporeans, then foreign workers need to be brought in. Secondly, the right workers must be employed to fill the right jobs. As another age-old adage says; a square peg cannot enter a round hole. So from a different perspective, maybe we can look into improving ourselves as Singaporeans so as to be as competitive as foreigners. Maybe we can start by asking ourselves what we can offer that foreigners cannot. Instead of worrying about the foreign workers, we should strive to make ourselves economically relevant. Thus the constant clarion calls for us to upgrade and retrain. There are many programs offered by the government to this effect and we should take advantage of the opportunities opened to us so that there will be a demand for our skills.
And then there is the argument that companies employ foreigners because they are cheaper. This assumption is flawed because a company will pay reasonably well to keep good, relevant employees. A local whose skill is in high demand will have no reason to feel threatened by the presence of foreigners.
It would have been a juvenile act to deface PM Lee’s poster. Nothing would have been achieved at the end of the day. It is as much a symbolic act of protest, as an act of petulance towards something that is misunderstood. So before we go around defacing anyone’s face, we should stop and think what are we actually defacing?