Health Minister Ong Ye Kung is "puzzled" by the motion of debate filed by Leong Mun Wai of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP).
"Mr Leong has persisted in linking this issue falsely with FTAs and CECA despite us having a full debate in July," Ong said in a Facebook post on Sep. 1.
On Aug. 31, Leong, who is a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament, announced that he will file a motion of debate. According to Leong, the motion reads:
"That this Parliament calls upon the Government to take urgent and 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."
In case you were wondering, CECA refers to the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. You may know it from certain online groups who have used it as a negative epithet for Indian nationals.
Leong elaborated further in his Facebook post, saying, "As we have highlighted again and again, the main focus of the 'PSPJobsDebate' is on how to improve the jobs and livelihood of Singaporeans. CECA is not our main concern and has been thrust upon us by the Government."
He also referred to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech, saying that while he addressed economic anxiety over foreign work-pass holders, PM Lee did not announce "new concrete policies" that would resolve the "problem."
In response, Ong said, also using one of Leong's words:
"The Government has been receiving a lot of feedback on these issues. We understand these anxieties, and are continually working to address them.
Hence, this past Sunday at the National Day Rally, PM spoke about this matter and announced various concrete policies to address the challenges faced by our workers, building on measures we have put in place over the years."
Ong said that Leong persisted in falsely linking the issue with Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and CECA.
He pointed out that he and Manpower Minister Tan See Leng made ministerial statements in July in Parliament explaining how Singapore needs to be open to the world to survive, how FTAs work, and how CECA works in particular.
Ong added, "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 noted that in July, Leong "seemed to acknowledge" the points, and agreed that while Singapore's interests are taken care of when FTAs are negotiated, the PSP needed more time to assess if CECA was overall beneficial for Singaporeans.
Ong then concluded:
Top image from MCI YouTube.
"Unfortunately, the PSP appears intent on carrying on its campaign against CECA. As PM cautioned at NDR, this campaign carries a strong racist undertone, and has impacted not only Indian nationals here, but our own local-born Indians.
The Government will consider how to address the PSP’s motion during the upcoming Parliament sitting."
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