Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat has waded into the employment statistics Parliament debate between Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh and Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.
Chee said in a Facebook post that the data provided in Parliament about employment statistics under the various Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) is "comprehensive and clear".
He was "puzzled", he said, as to why Pritam had failed to acknowledge such statistics in his own Facebook post on Jan. 7 after the debate.
What were the statistics provided?
On Jan. 6, Pritam raised a question in Parliament about the number of new jobs filled by Singaporeans and foreigners under the Industry Transformation Maps (ITM) programme.
In response, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said that from 2015 to 2018, the total employment figure across 23 sectors (excluding foreign domestic workers) grew by 19,500.
This growth consisted of:
- An increase in employment of Singapore Citizens by 39,300.
- An increase in employment of Permanent Residents (PRs) by 8,600.
- A decrease in employment of foreigners by 28,500.
These figures were subsequently reiterated by Chee on Facebook.
What did Pritam say on Facebook?
In his post after Parliament, Pritam explained that he had been seeking clarity on such statistics so as to show how many jobs are filled by Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners.
Pritam added that this would help Singaporeans track government policies to determine whether they are working to boost employment and improve career prospects, as well as counter falsehoods about such statistics.
Chee: Most international labour market statistics not broken down by nationality
In response, Chee highlighted that most international labour market statistics are not broken down by nationality, citing a Factually article which explained that this was due to the technical limitations of data collection.
He also echoed Chan by stressing how "this government puts Singaporeans at the heart of everything we do".
Additionally, a balance had to be struck in multiple trade-offs, such as the degree to which foreigners are brought in to complement the country's labour.
Elaborating on his point, Chee stated that what mattered the most was outcomes for Singapore's workers.
As per Chee:
"Singapore remains globally competitive in attracting investments, unemployment has remained low, wages of Singaporean workers are going up and good jobs continue to be created now and in the future."
Singapore must avoid the "politics of division and envy"
Chee then stated that Singapore should avoid going down the route which has seen other economies struggle with "the politics of division and envy", and called for a rejection of attempts to drive divisions between different social groups and sow hate for political gain.
Chee further highlighted that the PRs of Singapore have contributed to the country economically and socially even though they receives less benefits and subsidies compared to Singapore citizens.
Some PRs have since become the family members of fellow Singaporeans.
"More importantly, many PRs are family members of our fellow Singapore citizens, as Mr Singh would be aware since the Workers’ Party has joined PAP MPs in advocating for foreign spouses and children of Singapore citizens to be given priority for Singapore citizenship."
You can read his post in full here:
More details on the debate over employment statistics:
Top image collage left image from CNA screengrab, right image from gov.sg