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PIDCS Event: Dialogue between organisers and protesters best way forward. REALLY?

After I read what Ravi Philemon, a member of National Solidarity Party, wrote about

“Dialogue between organisers and protesters of Philippine Independence Day celebration best way forward”

I just can’t help thinking there’s something wrong somewhere. I also have this nagging feeling that Workers’ Party is doing exactly what, my friend Chris K wrote, ““Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”.” (Napoleon). Hence, my response below…at the risk of offending some opposition members….


Mr Philemon,

I don’t doubt your good intention, taking the initiative at its face value.

However, the idea begs a few relevant questions;

1. No less than the PM himself has declared that “We must show that we are generous of spirit and welcome visitors into our midst, even as we manage the foreign population here. – LHL”

If the BOSS himself declares that to be so, it has to be so, no?

2. So, you claimed ‘you knew of some of these protesters’. I have no doubt about that, too. How many? What proportion do they represent of ALL the protesters? I doubt if anyone has made a count. So, how many actually ‘protested’, if we go by social media, and how many of these protesters’ views in some websites have been, eh, deleted?

Anyway, we have the BOSS himself declaring that it’s only a ‘few trolls’. Perhaps, asking his office for the contacts of those ‘trolls’ can be a good start – given that the trolls ‘led’ the protest?

3. Cutting to the chase, a final question: The fact of the matter is that there appears to be uncountable numbers on both sides of the divide amongst S’poreans (yeah, that appears to be how we have evolved as ‘one united people’ under current leadership) and quite a chunk in the middle or without any view either way. So, even the protesters or supporters cannot claim to represent the majority view.

Isn’t there such a thing as The Law in operation here in Singapore? And isn’t The Law of Singapore there to be the supreme arbiter of any disagreement for anything to do within its jurisdiction including what is clearly ‘a public gathering’?

Therefore, no need to waste any time & effort, the PIDCS as organizer should just proceed with whatever they decide to do or not to do when and where they want it done. THIS IS A GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO LET OUR PINOY GUESTS KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS SINGAPORE AND, HERE IN SINGAPORE, IT IS THE LAWS OF SINGAPORE THAT DECIDE ON MATTERS PUBLIC & PRIVATE IF THERE IS A DISPUTE OR DIFFERENCE IN UNDERSTANDING.

Some countries have laws but they operate differently. Yes, we are not perfect. But never mind, on this PIDCS issue, just proceed per the current provisions under our law.

Oh, by the way, in case the PIDCS think it helps their case, they can submit as evidence that the PM, our highest office in the land, has come out in support of their celebration event. It’d be great to see if he or what he says is above the law.

Therefore, absolutely no need to set a precedent to negotiate a matter such as this. Let the Law be supreme. Ravi, are you sure you want to be on record as someone who sets the precedent that, in Singapore, everything is negotiable?

Respectfully yours,


Monday, April 28, 2014

Dialogue between organisers and protesters of Philippine Independence Day celebration best way forward


Last week, I felt concerned enough about Philippine Independence Day celebration saga that I wrote to the Philippine Embassy saying that I am sorry for the harassment the organisers have gotten, but that I also believe that there is some level of miscommunication and cross-talk between the organisers of the event and those that protest (at least some).

I assured the Philippine embassy in Singapore that the protesters do not mean ill-will to the people of Philippines and that they appreciated the contributions of the Filipinos to our country. I expressed that the protesters’ frustrations were more about the immigration and manpower policies in place.

In the email I said that I knew of some of these protesters and asked the Philippine embassy if I could facilitate a dialogue between these protesters, and the organisers of the celebration. I believe such a dialogue would be a win-win for both the organisers of the event as well as the protesters, as the organisers would be seen as engaging the protesters in a rational manner, and for the protesters to clear any misunderstandings and bring their concerns across.

I reiterated that it is very important that the people of our countries remain good friends, and for that I believe there has to be better communication. I expressed that I believe that this proposed dialogue could be one means to that.

The Consul from the Cultural Section of the Embassy of the Philippines replied to my email thanking me for my interest to be a bridge between the protesters and the Committee. They said that they will refer my offer to the Committee with a recommendation that they contact me directly.

Even if I don’t end up facilitating this dialogue, I hope such a meeting will take place so that both parties can better understand each side’s position better and to explore how to accommodate each other.



PIDCS Episode: A Half-Time Commentary

How started
The PIDCS episode appears to have started with a 16 Apr blogspot calling to ‘ban-Philippines-independence-day-singapore-soil’. The event might have petered out innocuously as it isn’t an inaugural event. But, nyet.

All thanks to newbie, still Acting Manpower Minister Tan CJ, a likeable-looking chap to most admirers, sympathetic of his tough portfolio dealing with the vocal, visibly restless unemployed PMEs vs his ‘Kee Kiu’ colleague acting Santa Claus to the less-visible, beaten-down-but-(still)not-dead poor. Tan wrote on his FB the next day, ‘These actions by those who peddle hate are not acceptable, repulsive even. We should..say no to such bigotry.” Strong words, certainly. Any indication that he tried to understand, engage those who support the ban? Not certain. But generals are generally decisive or must appear to be cocksure.

Then, as if on cue, another cocksure general charged in, also via FB the following day, “I was appalled to read about those who harassed the organisers…and spammed their Facebook page. They are a disgrace to Singapore.
Fortunately this appears to be the work of few trolls. Heartened that many sensible Singaporeans condemn this thuggish behaviour…I just attended our Singapore Day in London. How would we have felt if British netizens had spammed our website, and abused Singaporeans living in Britain?
We must show that we are generous of spirit and welcome visitors into our midst, even as we manage the foreign population here. – LHL”
Again, strong, very strong words, certainly. Again, any indication of prior engagement with detractors? Not certain.

Records seem to show that on the direct websites calling for the ban, there were no more than 20-30 comments each, for and against, as of 18 Apr i.e. before the ministers rocketed it to viral status. Colourful words, “f**king vermin”, “scum”, “shit heads of a third world country” and “undesirable underlings” could not actually be found on major websites (e.g. saynotooverpopulatedsingapore) directly related to this PIDC episode. Maybe, like the PM’s FB, they’re edited out.

Hence, from what is verifiable, could the PM & Minister have shot from the hip based on non-verifiable claims of phone calls and mistaken descriptions uttered in other contexts? Both generals fired not with Beretta Tomcat mouse guns but the double-action S&W Model 29 Magnum revolver with a calibre in the order of ‘repulsive…bigotry…appalled…a disgrace to Singapore’, against their own, some of the voters that they as leaders need to win over. Going to bed, both might have felt they made their own day out of some punks.


Putting aside the sideshow of non-verifiable evidence, why exactly are the majority detractors against the PIDC event? 3 key motivations;

One, a question of pride if not patriotism.
Goh Wei Kian, Singaporean, observed in the Manila Bulletin, ‘Our Independence, Our Interdependence”. These two slogans together hints at the host country is ALSO dependent on the OFWs. I believe this would generate similar uproars in other Asian countries. Most Singaporeans have nothing against the National (Day) celebration; its the way the event is themed in an insensitive manners.’

Two, a question of legality & fairness (…but what else, being S’poreans) .
Reginald Ashton: so if they’re not a registered society or a umbrella organization, it means they’re consider a secret society….everyone call police on that day to report e event as a disturbance la. illegal gathering&a threat to e peace of singapore.
Prithpal Singh: For 2 Singaporeans to come together in public to voice out a worthy public cause you need a permit which will never ever be issued! For 9000 Pinoys to come together for a political cause in the heart of our shopping center on a Sunday, the only day when stressed out Singaporeons go out to get some relief, it seems its all OK!!

Three, perhaps, the main bread & butter reason;
Bob Koh: To those who think we should not be against this: We are a small country overwhelmed with foreigners taking our jobs, crowding the trains, buses, services and facilities. We have the right to complain against these large group of foreigners celebrating their ‘independence day’ in our country in a public place like Orchard Road as if they own it. Let us continue to register our displeasure against this.

Note: All above comments were logged 16-18 Apr, before the matter went viral and detractors of the detractors started sticking ‘xenophobic’ & ‘racist’ labels freely, abetted by ST. For the record, confident S’poreans are not insusceptible to feelings of disgust (which isn’t phobia). And, well, nowhere are Filipinos recognised as a ‘race’ except some themselves claiming to be Aryans (Spanish blood?); unless S’poreans are racists of our Malays-in-arms serving side-by-side in NS, then what racism?


Why the above whys?
How then do we make of the PIDC episode? In the context of our times, of course.

The Macro
1. Against the 2012 China Chinese bus strike and the 2013 Indian Little India riot, is it unreasonable to deduce that more than just ‘a few trolls’ are feeling the Singapore they knew appears to be slipping over the horizon? Hence, the urge to make a stand?

2. Bitten by FT, GDP growth-at-all-cost etc policies and (Population) White Papers that a dominant government has full, if not absolute, control over, is a significant 40% that did not give this government carte blanche trying to ‘negotiate the policy failures’ (BK, TRE contributor) with the govt at mid-term?

The Micro
3. Is the world witnessing a PAP cabinet in decline? One that more often than not these days appear to prefer to rush to judgment instead of first engaging those whose views may not sit so easily with theirs. Or any views that appear to hint at the falling concrete and crumbling pillars of their various policies.

4. Zeroing in on the 2 ministers in action; was there a need for Tan CJ to speak up so soon, so condemningly (hate, repulsive, bigotry)? How about those prime, choice words, ‘disgrace, thuggish’ from a Prime Minister, no less? One wonders if the PM was subconsciously recalling a LIFE (15 Jul 65) Close-Up of his father, headlined, “Brilliant, but a bit of a Thug” (hey, with a cap ‘T’, get it?).


1. Internally, though not yet ended, the PIDC episode contains for Singaporeans hints to portend another small marker in the dislodging, changing of the chief guard if not the PAP leadership in toto.

A leader with an iota of wisdom – or just an ion of electrically-charged patience – will hold his peace, check the full facts, call forth different counsels, allow time to play out….and then, depending on how the wind blows, step forth with a few choice words that make everyone come out of this brouhaha smelling like roses.

But nyet, just as he
pronounced ‘foreign workers have LESS crimes compared to S’poreans’ (in a foreign land, at that), so he CAN’T BUT see a shadow of threat, a rebuke, an objection to his policies – and person, maybe – in every incident, word or question, then bang! off goes his Magnum .44-cal. Here, he managed to offend even those who object for noble reasons sans vulgarities and also put his Police in a quandary. And, heck, even school kids know the difference between Singapore Day & Independence Day.

The Question we must ask themselves honestly is; can both the 60+40% Singaporeans, proceed with such a leader & leadership to navigate a more complicated, complex, faster-moving world? Whether to continue to try to play in the top or 2nd-tier global city league – led by one who appears only interested and capable to lead his supporters instead of marshalling all hands on deck to fashion a new consensus and then show the way to win that prize, be it just silver and not gold?

2. Externally, how will Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and China foreign service be filing their narratives in light of this PIDC event? Will the Pinoys, known to be more united than Singaporeans, sense a weakness in the PAP, a divided house? The others as well? How about the Chief Ally in Pivot to Asia mode?

The Question here for us; is Singapore being led as one united nation, likely to be one united nation when and if under threat with a PM who appears (again) to side with foreigners at the expense of his own?


PS: Separately a word to Gilbert Goh of Transitioning. Provided it’s held before the police decides yes or no to the PIDCS permit, you have a slam-dunk Hong Lim rally on a platter. The ground is palpable with anger on the issue. Just count the number of publications and comments @ TRE. Either way, you will not lose however the event unfolds thereafter. Best to work fast to negotiate the theme with the upcoming 3 May rally organizers. Don’t take my word for it. Work out all the scenarios to see for yourself. Good luck.


Reading the Tea Leaves of the PIDC Event – how it will likely play out.

Detractors & supporters of the PIDC event appear on edge as the episode moves onto the next stage. Will it proceed or won’t it?

Here’s my 2cents’ reading of the Tea Leaves how it is likely to play out….with everyone coming up roses! What more can we ask?

PIDC will be holding the event but NOT at Ngee Ann City, some place more ‘private’…at Hong Lim Park or Singapore Expo (if they, in fact, have the money and are prepared to spend that handsome sum).

Why? Because the law is clear that a public celebration will need to have a police permit. And, at this juncture, no Commissioner of Police (one of our many ‘scholars’ occupying high positions) will want to stick out his neck to take it upon himself to guarantee a peaceful gathering. He already screwed up at Little India & announced to the world that he is 1000 headcount short. So, he’ll cover his own tail and send the matter up to his boss, the Minister of Home Affairs aka the Dy PM. It’ll then be discussed in their cabinet meeting as Teo Chee Hean will not want to take it upon himself to make that decision even though it’s rather straightforward based on the legal aspects.

The decision will be No Go at Ngee Ann City but ok if somewhere else more ‘private’.

They, the highly-talented, highly-paid cabinet will then not lose face but instead will spin it into something positive, namely; the PM supported the event but the Police acted ‘independently’ (sounds good doesn’t it, that the organs of state are independent of the political masters, no?) according to the law and perceptive judgment to deny the permit at the requested venue for reasons of blah blah blah.

The PIDC gets to do what they want, now with free publicity as well as exercising their ‘right’ to such an event.

Those who protest can claim they score a win since they never objected to the event, just the venue (+ those bits about the rising sun, soldiers etc) – now that the venue is changed.

Either the above scenario or just as possible, the PIDC will be ‘quietly advised’ not to go ahead with the permit application as it will not be approved.

In this case, same thing sama sama lah, or LPPL as described above i.e. everyone comes up roses.


Wanna bet an adobo meal over buko juice?

(Event Epilogue:

None of the ‘yes-man’ in the cabinet will dare to tell the leader of the pack that he had been too quick off the mark with his 18 Apr FB posting, saying he was appalled, supporting his newbie Minister of Manpower. Tan CJ himself will be blasted instead for his 17 Apr FB posting without seeing deeper and further the real issue to understand the reasons, patriotic ones, of those who object to the venue but not the PIDC event itself. There you have it, multi-millionaire ministers handling of a small social issue. Trust them for another 5 years to manage national issues?)

Change we Must.
End PAP’s dominance or PAP’s dominance will end us!

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Satire: Defending Policies Instead of Upholding Constitution

The US Embassy


22 Apr 2014
SUBJECT: Defending Policies instead of The Constitution

1. Initial innocuous events of the past week offer signals that our reliable ally, LRD (Little Red Dot), added another episode to the US concern for what has, for decades, been a SE Asia oasis of reliability supporting our national interest since the Viet war.
2. Briefly, on Apr 16, a brief blogpost was published in The Real Singapore, < http://therealsingapore.com/content/ban-philippines-independence-day-singapore-soil&gt; reporting and calling for the ban of a Philippines Independence Day Celebration in Singapore slated for the downtown venue of Ngee Ann City, Orchard Rd on Jun 8, 2014 Sunday.

The blogger wrote, reasonably enough, to basically point out that certain events of other nationalities celebrated on LRD soil for cultural and tourism purposes are fair enough. But “on the other hand, celebrating your country’s Independence Day and flying your national flag in another country simply means invasion and disrespect to the host country. This event should not be tolerated at all.” The publication attracted almost as much comments in support of as against the call to ban the event.

One Goh Wei Kian, Singaporean, spoke for the supporters of the ban when he commented in the Manila Bulletin, ‘“Our Independence, Our Interdependence”. These two slogans together hints at the host country is ALSO dependent on the OFWs. I believe this would generate similar uproars in other Asian countries. Most Singaporeans have nothing against the National Say celebration; its the way the event is themed in an insensitive manners.”’

3. Matters might have developed differently but for the quick and forceful intervention by Acting Manpower Minister, TAN Chuan-Jin (note: like 5 of his cabinet colleagues, he is another one paper general too many as seen by most Singaporeans), who wrote on his FB the next day, ‘These actions by those who peddle hate are not acceptable, repulsive even. We should make a stand to say no to such bigotry. They do not reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.”

The PM (aka Pinky) chipped in on his FB Apr 18,, “I was appalled to read about those who harassed the organisers of the Philippine Independence Day celebrations, and spammed their Facebook page. They are a disgrace to Singapore.
Fortunately this appears to be the work of few trolls. Heartened that many sensible Singaporeans condemn this thuggish behaviour,.. I just attended our Singapore Day in London. How would we have felt if British netizens had spammed our website, and abused Singaporeans living in Britain?
We must show that we are generous of spirit and welcome visitors into our midst, even as we manage the foreign population here. Otherwise we will lower our standing in the eyes of the world, and have every reason to be ashamed of ourselves. – LHL”
4. It is worth highlighting that the PAP cabinet more often than not these days appear to prefer to rush to judgement instead of first engaging those whose views may not sit so easily with theirs. Or any views that appear on the surface to hint at the falling concrete and crumbling pillars of their various policies. In this instance, it’s their amazingly liberal ‘Foreign Talent’ employment policy whereby anyone can arrive on a tourist visa, extend it till he/she lands a job!

Notice that in both the ministers’ posts, they also use rather strong words, such as ‘repulsive…bigotry…appalled…a disgrace to Singapore’ against their own.

Pinky himself appears to show his cluelessness again – sign of aging or just another itsy bitsy proof that he’s just LKY’s son with little to show for his lineage – he compares the SGP Day in London (a sociocultural event similar to the NY one) with the Filipino’s 116th Independence Day celebration!

Just how does he to build a sense of nationhood in LRD with a Pinky PM like this? Next time, you are better off shooting the breeze in Bali with the Indonesians than engage this fading dynasty.

5. I requested our Manila office to supplement this report, having alerted him to a thread in the Manila Bulletin (http://www.mb.com.ph/upcoming-independence-day-celebration-of-ofws-offends-singaporeans/). In this thread, one commentator going by the moniker, Wo Shi Xiong Mao (or ‘I’m a panda’) appears to be a well-read and sharp Singapore, holding his own against the onslaught and barrage of the Filipinos against his comments. He is singled out for notice because he articulated the most salient reasons calling for the ban, not of the event, but the venue and the, to our mind, insensitive, arrogant Filipino way the event is promoted. Our Manila office has always confirmed that the Philippines is no more than a corrupted, hopelessly-run, spread of highly dispersed villages with a Catholic Church screwing their own poor and an abiding Islamic population out to harm the US interests.

6. To illustrate, here’s Wo Shi Xiong Mao response to a vitriol against LRD Chinese’s role in WWII, “During WWII, Philippines was under American influence and USA was attempting to sign a peace treaty which would remove them from the war…but never imagined the japs were faking the negotiations..(then) the pearl harbour attack.
Before all these the straits Chinese were donating money for the war effort in China where the chinks and the japs were battling it out.
…Pinoys were dragged into the war because of the American link.If it wasn’t for the Americans, pinoyland would have a peaceful transition into serfdom under the japs without the fighting.
Then when the japs fought their way south..the chinks died en mass…For pinoyland, the way Filipinos died in battle, you can’t tell if they really loved mcarthur so much or they’re really that brave. But they died overwhelmed poorly trained, poorly equipped. And remained under jap control until the end of the war when the Americans won..in Europe. And came back.
Without the Americans you’re probably going to go konichiwa every time you greet anyone.”

Hilariously written! And how true! Chotto matte kudasai please excuse me while I hehehe.

Here’s the bit summarizing what’s offensive about the Pinoys in LRD, mostly accurate; ‘Increased crime firstly .
Religious differences, referring to muslims as terrorists and others as “pagans” who don’t believe in the saviour and are going to hell.
Uppity attitudes towards the average singaporeans who had no idea Philippines exists in the first place.
Claiming to be a purer race / Aryan ( not that fair skin isn’t favoured here, openly boasting about it is a taboo subject )
Changing family names during job interviews for increased success (a taboo, especially when the interviewer noticed your chink surname isn’t on your passport )
Telling Singaporeans, Filipinos are more loved and will be in charge one day. This one’s pretty common.
Already breeding the next generation of pinoy haters before they realised there are pinoys by bullying kids at basketball courts.
National service is a sacred institution among guys in Singapore. Openly ridiculed and scorned by Filipinos. Filipinos who converted to pr are considered leeches for benefits like CPF and public housing yet sending their children away before they can serve in the army.

Cultural differences, or plain insensitive? A kid that plays his drums at night refuses to stop and his parents ain’t stopping him either. And Singaporeans who complained about the noise are told they’re not tolerant enough.
We generally go to crowded public areas for mass NOISY celebrations. But my immediate neighbors (palm leaves at the door so guess the nationality? ) celebrated until 2am for Christmas with loud music singing and dancing. I don’t suppose they’re an isolated incident…
We’re boring and quiet and love it that way. Don’t like the environment? Gtfo.”
7. Conclusions;
One, the fissures in LRD can only increase and enlarge with the PAP not appearing prepared to consider any doctrinal shifts in their governing policies.

The PIDC incident shows, in one sense, that PAP currently appear too quick, too eager, too thin-skin to opposing views. So, instead of going back to first principles of their ministerial OATH OF ALLEGIANCE (“..solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Republic of Singapore and that l will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore.”), PAP react to each and every pressure by defending their failing POLICIES.

Two, a leadership in sure decline together with a people never less united of a once certain ally changes all our calculus in our Pivot to Asia. We will need to cultivate the opposition parties in earnest. A good thing.

Three, how will Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and, yes, India and China will be reviewing their narratives in the light of this PIDC event? The Pinoys are known to be more united than Singaporeans and they sense a weakness in the PAP; a card to play when called for in their national interests. And, yes, it is not inconceivable that the Chinese Secret Service may use the PIDC event to create a ruckus to put the Pinoys in negative light not just in LRD but to the wider region – as it helps their Spratly cause.

Separately, we are contemplating to encourage Gilbert Goh of Transitioning to organize a protest. He should do it! It’s a slam-dunk – like the PWP event, the ground is palpable with anger on this PIDC issue. Either way, the PAP will lose this one however the event proceed…if only dimmy Gilbert can see that. Sigh.

Agent EdSn2X485GG

End of report


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Singapore needs to address how we treat migrant workers – with help from int’l press…

Below is my comment, one of similar ones that I have been writing whenever I come across any report highlighted on tremeritus.com that gives Singapore a negative take of the problems or situations that we are experiencing or observing in our Little Red Dot. This time it’s from <www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/apr/21/singapore-address-treatment-migrant-workers> via <http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/04/23/sg-needs-to-address-its-treatment-of-migrant-workers/&gt;

My rationale is that we need the help of other reputable papers with their international audience to add to the pressure to bear to make the PAP change their blind-sidedness in some, nay many, of their policies. Perhaps, by making the call, some reporter somewhere will read it and spread the word amongst their own clique.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, The Guardian, for writing and giving the space in your prestigious papers to highlight one of the moral problems that Singaporeans are grappling with.

The situation is one of a deliberate outcome brought about by a government in power for 50 continuous years and believing that they, the most talented and highest-paid cabinet in the world, can do no wrong while egged on by the rich citizens (mainly but not just property-related wealth).

As with ANY govt in power continuously for that long a time, their policies, as with all policies, have both positive outcomes along with negative collaterals. But the latter which include the poorer immigrant workers is vehemently ignored or denied by the ruling elite. They are, therefore, right up there in the hubristic state of arrogance and denial, unable to see thro’ the glittering GDP figures to emphatize with not just the immigrant workers but also our own lower income fellow citizens.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do us all a big favour to spread the word around to all your fellow journalists and reporters in the other international papers about the story here in Singapore. Please help us to end the dominant ruling People’s Action Party reign and you will achieve 2 wonderful goals;

1) By the sword of your word, the International Press will have written a new page in your history how reputable international newspapers can for the first time in history acted as a catalyst to bring true democratic change to a nominally democratic Little Red Dot.

2) You would have cut Lee Kuan Yew, with due respect to him, and his flawed variant ideas on a country’s governance down to the size where they belong, a footnote in a 50-year experiment that started well but proved to be a dangerous, toxic mix of meritoguanxi (a bit of merit, lots of guanxi) and no-accountability. If nothing else, that is not a bad payback for the lack of respect he has held for the international press in general. You may wish to note that his son, the current PM Lee Hsien Loong has thumbed his nose at you all in general – relegating Reporters Sans Frontierres to irelevance in the role of the press in Singapore.

Please give us a hand to effect the
Change we Must.
If we do not end PAP’s dominance, then PAP’s dominance will end us.

Thank you.

(PS: You are our best source of international help. Whatever you write, as long as they are factual, the PAP has zitch weapons at their disposal to stop you. It is perfectly legal. It is no treason our request – this is the brave new 21st century world of globalization.)


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Veiled Threat & A Cat Out of The FT-Create-Jobs Bag..

TRE Editor sent me the ST report and asked if I would like to write an Opinion piece on it. I immediately saw the potential as StanChart Research piece combined with ST’s publication at this juncture even before the FCF kicks in most likely carries with it a hidden agenda.
And that is to ‘warn’ S’poreans to ‘curb the anti-foreigner rant’ and to fire a shot across the PAP cabinet’s bows.

I got Chris K to co-author the piece ‘cos his sterling banking background adds weight to the opinion.

Cat out of the foreigner-created-job bag

It’s interesting that even before the ink on the Fair Consideration Framework is dry, StanChart Research has come up with a report noting that ‘new rules that kicked in on Jan 1 have already made it significantly harder for firms to obtain employment passes for expats earning $3k to $5k/month.’ (ST 17 Apr):

Banks, IT firms mull moves offshore amid manpower shortage


The manpower shortage is forcing banks and IT firms to consider moving their middle and back-end functions offshore – a shift that could hit business parks that house these operations.

The warning came from a Standard Chartered Research report that noted how new rules that kicked in on Jan 1 have already made it significantly harder for firms to obtain employment passes for expatriates earning $3,000 to $5,000 a month.

Firms that want to hire young foreign graduates must pay them at least $3,300 a month under the new regulations, up from $3,000 previously. Older and more experienced applicants must be paid even more.

As a result, “four to five” banks are considering relocating some functions outside Singapore as they are struggling to fill back-office positions while keeping a lid on costs, said StanChart, whose analysts spoke to human resource experts, immigration service providers and business park leasing agents.

The implementation of the Fair Consideration Framework in August will likely make it even harder for firms to hire expats, it added.

The thrust of the report is that the resulting ‘manpower shortage is forcing banks (4 to 5) and IT firms to consider moving their middle and back-end functions offshore – a shift that could hit business parks that house these operations.’

StanChart believes that the situation can only get worse when the FCF starts in Aug as under the framework, firms with more than 25 employees must prove they tried to hire a Singaporean first, plus a compulsory ad in a govt job bank, before they can recruit a foreign professional for any job paying less than $12k/month.

Netizens across many platforms, not just at TRE, have already discussed many ways to game the FCF that’s conceived with holes large enough for 2-bus to drive abreast thro’. We just wish to predict one more – many foreign subsidiaries or new independent ones will be formed with less than 25 headcounts to completely circumvent the 25-employee rule.

Consider what Michael Smith of Randstad, the headhunter outfit that was caught with ads specifically asking for foreign applicants, observed:

“Companies requiring niche skills or specialist skills in growth areas such as research and development, banking, technology and accounting will be hit the hardest, as they often rely on employment passes as a means to fill specialist skill gaps in their workforce,”

Well, you read it yourself, in PAP’s own trusted media and right from the mouth of a horse in the HR manger, even mid and back-end jobs at banks, tech & accounting are considered as ‘specialist’, relying on ‘foreign talents’ to fill.

Two damning observations here:

One, either our education system is failing to produce even citizens qualified for just mid and back-end jobs or, in the insane rush to grow GDP at all costs, we are creating jobs that do not benefit citizens but only foreign firms, head hunters – and, yes, rent-seekers (aka land lords & REITs, majority GLCs).

Two, it’s got to be a Freudian slip by good old Michael, an old hand with the system here in Sgp.
What he basically reveals is calling PM Lee’s bluff, ‘Foreign workers create jobs for Singaporeans.’

‘NO!!!’, says Michael, R&D, banking, tech and accounting employers “often rely on employment passes as a means to fill specialist skill gaps in their workforce.”

Should we believe a PM who confessed a sad lack of 20/20 foresight or a professional who eats and sleeps HR 24/7?

Anyway, let’s try to understand the purpose and timing of the StanChart report and ST’s faithful reporting of it.

Is it too far-fetched to believe that foreign employers & HR outfits are ganging up to fire the first warning shots at Tan Chuan Jin? So, in case, newbie-Acting Minister Tan’s knees get wobbly, here’s our in-your-face 2cents view:

We should not cry over spilt milk if this comes to pass. If the large banks move out the mid and back office function, it is no great loss as these are cost incurring functions, not revenue producing ones. Even if the banks’ own internal transfer pricing recoups these costs, the Government would not earn much in taxes anyway.

A Business Times report of 12 March 2014 reminded us that Singapore is the transaction processing hub while the deals are mostly done elsewhere. Is there a point of Singapore accepting the operation risks and employing so many so-called FTs doing processing tasks while Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo take the glory and the revenues of deal-making, the front office function that is the very epitome of a real Financial Hub?

Well, let us call the banks’ bluff.  If it is true – they can leave. If the business cannot find locals to fill positions, then it is not worth having. Therefore, good riddance to bad rubbish ….. or rather bad business and their hordes of FTs. At least, our population gets reduced by a few thousands, every bit helps. If they stay, then we know that they are … well bluffing, don’t we?

Please pass the word around to friends and all. We have only ourselves to look after each other, even if the FCF is ineffectual, foreign employers, CEOs like Michael Smith and our own govt are not interested to create nor to employ Singaporeans.

This StanChart report and ST’s reporting is another small piece of the puzzle of the disappearing Singapore PMEs.

2cents & Chris K

* 2cents blogs at 2econdsight.wordpress.com while Chris K has spent his entire career managing balance sheet currency, interest rates and liquidity risks in a world-class international financial hub.

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A longer term monetary incentive to encourage more births…


I have no control over the title tt TRE Editor chose for this comment below. It was something that I wrote some years back and then updated in response to an article in TRE.

My point is not so much as to say what I understand but more to suggest a major contributing cause to our low TFR and how any incentive to alleviate, if not turn around, the low TFR has to parallel the time period it costs to raise a child. And the most obvious one is the 20-25 years against the 25-30 year housing mortgage that we are all straddled with.

Nope, I didn’t write it so that I can benefit if there is such a change in HDB housinsg price policy. My children are already 19 – 23. And the reason why I never took a bite of the HDB cherry to enjoy capital appreciation is that I always think that I have been more than blessed and someone else needs that bite more than I do.

I can understand why we have the worst ‘baby problem’

I write as a father of 3 children. I also write as an unemployed middle-age professional – still straddled with a sizeable housing loan.

Obviously, there are not many out there like my wife and I who consciously chose to have more than 2 children. We were young – and reckless, maybe. There was never a question of doing our sums – then. But now, with the benefit of experience, observation and insight, I can understand why we’ve the worst ‘baby problem’ worldwide. It’s no surprise since we’ve to be Uno Numero in all that we (are socially-engineered, governed to) achieve.

A common observation is that in one’s greatest success lies one’s biggest failure. For us S’poreans and the PAP Govt – our (their) raison d’etre is our GDP figures. Lee Kuan Yew said so just as much, tying the population, immigrant issues neatly with our dismal newborn and potential GDP figures. GDP-wise, we succeed; TFR-wise, we fail – most miserably. Ironic? Why?

I daresay ALL the current incentives give only temporary relief at mostly the early stages of a newborn life. But raising a child is at a 2-decade long or more commitment. After the initial, temporary govt incentives, then what? – especially when kids grow to ask for more than watching TV or jogging.

Such incentives help, yes, but it may also help to make skeptics of our next generation who observe how their parents have been ‘hoodwinked’ (temporarily-incentivized) into giving birth to them only to perpetually struggle to ‘get a good job’ to pay the mortgage, raise the kids.

I submit that THE relevant & true monetary ‘incentive’ that tracks the 2-decade-or-so child-rearing cost lies in a couple’s housing mortgage of 2.5-3 decades. Make that affordable to allow for more financial leeway in favour of raising kids.

Are policy-makers honest and courageous enough to admit that the single biggest mismanaged economic factor that has brought us our dismal population figures today are sky-high home prices that impact on EVERY other cost? Including the child-rearing job of 20 or more years.

Will our leaders take another look at the ‘blind side’ of their asset-enhancement policy of the last 20 years? Asset enhancement, by the way, at the ground level, just means higher mortgage for me but bigger GDP-linked bonuses for ministers & civil servants. To my mind, taken to its logical progression end it is no more than a pyramid scheme in the final analysis in SGP’s context. But who amongst the current leaders give a shit since, by the time that comes to pass, they’d all be long gone – is that what hard-nosed, long-term planning amounts to?

If GDP growth makes for great living, I ask again, is it not ironic – nay, damning – on the PAP that we’re not reproducing to let for our very own to enjoy such great living? ‘Oh, but it’s a worldwide trend!’ cried LKY. Lame excuse. If you don’t want to admit yr failure, then get the heck out of the way and let others tackle what is THE existential issue for SGP.

Change we must!


* Comment appeared in: Lesson from Singapore on supporting families