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Singapore

PSP files motion in Parliament to debate anxieties on jobs, livelihoods 'caused by foreign talent policy'

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said he was "puzzled" by the motion, given that "concrete policies" were announced during the National Day Rally.

PSP files motion in Parliament to debate anxieties on jobs, livelihoods 'caused by foreign talent policy'

Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung speaking in parliament.

SINGAPORE: The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has tabled a motion calling on the Government to address anxieties on local jobs and livelihoods caused by Singapore's foreign talent policy, said NCMP Leong Mun Wai on Tuesday (Aug 31).

In a Facebook post, Mr Leong said the private member's motion calls on the Government to "take concrete action to address the widespread anxiety among Singaporeans on jobs and livelihood caused by the foreign talent policy and the movement of natural persons provisions in some free trade agreements like CECA".

CECA refers to the India - Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post on Tuesday night he was "quite puzzled" by the PSP motion. 

"Mr Leong has persisted in linking this issue falsely with FTAs and CECA despite us having a full debate in July," said Mr Ong, who is a former trade negotiator.

In July, Mr Ong and Mr Tan delivered ministerial statements in Parliament to dispel misconceptions on CECA and the country's foreign employment policies and situation. 

"IMPROVE JOBS AND LIVELIHOOD": PSP

Mr Leong said the main focus of the debate in the parliamentary sitting in September will be on ways to improve the jobs and livelihoods of Singaporeans. 

"CECA is not our main concern and has been thrust upon us by the Government," he added.

Mr Leong said that although Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has addressed the anxieties of Singaporeans over foreign work pass holders during his National Day Rally speech on Sunday, he "did not announce new concrete policies that would resolve the problem fundamentally". 

"The other policies announced in recent days by the Government also did not show its full appreciation of the severity of the problems faced by Singaporean workers," he said. 

He added that PSP will continue to urge the Government to take the issues of the "displacement and discrimination of Singaporeans seriously", as well as implement "concrete policies to address the problems urgently". 

GOVERNMENT WORKING TO ADDRESS ANXIETIES: MR ONG

Mr Ong said the Government has been receiving a lot of feedback on issues regarding anxieties on jobs and livelihoods caused by competition from foreign workers. 

"We understand these anxieties, and are continually working to address them," he said. 

Mr Ong referred to the Prime Minister's National Day Rally speeches, adding that various "concrete policies" were announced to "address the challenges faced by "our workers, building on measures that were put in place over the years. 

"Dr Tan See Leng and I had explained how Singapore needs to be open to the world to survive, and to earn a living. I went to great lengths to explain how FTAs, CECA and the chapter on Movement of Natural Persons work.

"I explained how they were not the cause of the anxieties felt by workers. I asked the PSP to withdraw their false allegations about CECA."

He also noted that Mr Leong had seemed to acknowledge these points and said that the PSP was not against FTAs. 

"On FTA provisions, including the movement of natural persons, he (Mr Leong) acknowledged that Singaporeans’ interests are taken care of when the FTAs are negotiated, but said that the PSP needed more time to assess if CECA is beneficial to Singapore workers overall," added Mr Ong.

"Unfortunately, the PSP appears intent on carrying on its campaign against CECA.

"As (the Prime Minister) cautioned at (the National Day Rally), this campaign carries a strong racist undertone, and has impacted not only Indian nationals here, but our own local-born Indians." 

Mr Ong said the Government will consider how to address PSP's motion during the upcoming sitting in Parliament. 

Source: CNA/lk

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