In yesterday’s National Day Rally, Singapore’s Prime Minister Mr. Lee Hsien Loong touched on many bases. For all the welcome news on education and the economy, the one hot topic that Singaporeans have focused on is the issue of foreign workers.
The issue is so hot (and toxic) the PM spent over 40 minutes touching on foreign talent and the integration of foreigners and permanent residents into the Singapore community. The 2 main points on foreign workers is that a “Population and Talent Division” will be set-up to manage immigration, talent and population policies, and that 80,000 foreigners will enter Singapore this year.
Local (and growing) complaints by Singaporeans about the sheer numbers of foreign workers in Singapore have I believe led the PM to lower the number of foreigners into the country. That is good as it means the Singapore government is listening to the people. Just last month, the PM announced that more than 100,000 foreign workers will enter Singapore; a piece of news that was taken very badly by Singaporeans.
However, I fear the government has not listened enough to the people. If the PM thinks 80,000 is a number acceptable to Singaporean, he will have to think again. The big problem Singaporeans has with foreign workers is not ‘foreign workers’ themselves, but the problems that came due to the sheer amount of foreign workers in Singapore.
Overcrowded MRT stations, packed buses, sky-high housing prices; all these problems are due to the influx of foreign workers in some parts. I mean private home prices rose 11% in the first six months of this year in Singapore, and would Singaporeans be grateful we will only get 80,000 foreign workers instead of 100,000 foreign workers?
Somehow I doubt it too.