No clampdown on hiring of foreign workers from South Asia: Tan Chuan-Jin
- POSTED: 13 Dec 2013 15:34
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Singapore's Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin has said there is no clampdown on the hiring of foreign workers from South Asia.
SINGAPORE: Singapore's Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin has said there is no clampdown on the hiring of foreign workers from South Asia.
Mr Tan noted that this has been a concern raised by several workers during dialogue and outreach sessions in the aftermath of the Little India riot on December 8.
He also said investigations so far show that those involved in the riot were not facing any employment disputes.
Mr Tan was replying to questions from Channel NewsAsia during an interview with the local media.
He said many workers from South Asia working in Singapore have denounced the riot. Mr Tan said he has received this feedback during recent outreach sessions.
Mr Tan explained: "Certainly the riot is very serious, something that shouldn't be taken lightly, but I don't believe that we should generalise and therefore label all South Asian foreign workers as being of the same ilk. It doesn't represent that at all.
"Many of them denounce the actions, many of them are shocked at what happened, and this is not an action that represents the community. I think it would be wrong for us to conclude that, and it would be inappropriate for us as a nation to look at it that way."
Mr Tan said South Asian workers have contributed significantly to Singapore and have "made a difference to our lives" in their own ways.
"In very meaningful ways, they are earning a living, working hard, and they are very much part of our community even though they are foreigners," he added.
Mr Tan shared some perceptions foreign workers have about working in Singapore.
Recent surveys conducted by the Manpower Ministry among foreign workers showed that the workers are happy with their working conditions in the country.
Mr Tan cited a survey conducted in 2011 among 3,500 foreign workers, comprising 3,000 work permit holders and 500 S Pass holders.
He noted that nine out of 10 were "relatively contented" with their life in Singapore, and seven out of 10 would recommend to their family and friends to come and work in Singapore.
About 80 per cent of them want to continue working in Singapore.
Mr Tan said even from his conversations with foreign workers, he has noted that by and large, many of them are comfortable with things in Singapore.
Turning to disputes involving foreign workers, Mr Tan said that the Manpower Ministry has dealt with about 3,700 complaints this year, a small percentage of the nearly 950,000 to 970,000 work permit holders employed in Singapore.
He said that there had been some extreme views posted online after the riot, which could have serious impact on the people involved and their families.
But he was also encouraged by more rational views that have been emerging.
Mr Tan said: "For example, the allegations that people were killed, policemen were killed. Can you imagine the impact on the families, children whose fathers or mothers may be on the line and the number of hours of anxiety that you have just created because you deliberately created false news?
"Or, allegations of certain groups of people doing certain things...you create a lot of hate and anger from others...That's where we need to come in and have a balance of voices.
"So you see the negative elements. But what has been encouraging is that you see the positive side (too). A lot of Singaporeans are beginning to speak up and say, 'let's hold the ground, and let's not generalise and say all foreign workers are like that', because the majority of foreign workers are not like that at all."