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25 Jun 2019
Movement for change
Feedback View - 358
What's wrong with "the FT policy"

Someone asked to comment on the govt "FT policy". I do not know what he meant by the "FT policy". 

I suppose he wants my opinion about the govt's approach to allowing foreign workers to work in Singapore.

What is the current approach?

a) The employer submits a request to the govt to issue a work pass to a foreign worker to be recruited and provides the relevant documents.

b) If the employer has a quota for the foreign worker and the foreign worker meets the assessment criteria, the govt approves the application.

c) The employer has a pay a monthly levy for each foreign worker on Work Permit or S Pass. The levy depends on a complicated formula.

What is wrong with this system? It has been abused over the years in the following ways:

a) Some foreign worker submits false documents on their qualifications to pass the assessment criteria.

b) Some employers indicated a high salary for the foreign worker but gets a refund from the foreign worker through some questionable means.

c) Some employers are able to get a large quota which they sell to small employers to earn a monthly fee. 

d) The foreign workers are employed on different terms from local workers doing the same job, e.g. no CPF contribution.

e) Employment agents demand a high commission from the foreign worker to find jobs for them in Singapore. They share some of the commissions with the employer in some instances. The foreign workers have to work for 6 to 12 months to pay the commission.

It seems to be a big racket allowing some people to make a big profit from this operation. As a consequence, it  has caused hardship to the foreign workers and to the local workers who lose their jobs to the foreign workers. The large inflow also caused strains to the infrastructure and a decline in productivity and standard of work.

Is there a better way to deal with the inflow of foreign workers?

We can study the approach taken by Australia and Canada - two countries that are popular destinations for immigrants.

The intended immigrant has to apply for a permit which is thoroughly assessed by the govt based on their national needs and priories. The assessment includes the qualifications and language ability.

If approved, the immigrant is given a visa to enter and work in the country and permanent residency for a certain period which is usually renewed. The immigrant looks for a suitable job and is employed on similar conditions as other residents.

In my opinion, the approach adopted by Australia and Canada is better than the approach adopted in Singapore. 

Tan Kin Lian

Vote - do you agree with my view that our approach towards foreign workers is generally bad?


Agree: 8  Disagree: 1  Vote