Friday, 8 March 2013

DPM Teo refused to provide breakdown of foreign workers by countries of origin

8th March 2013

Teo Chee Hean

I refer to the article “Most of Singapore population info available in public domain: DPM Teo” (Channel NewsAsia, Mar 8).

Please breakdown population data?

It states that “MP for Aljunied GRC Sylvia Lim has asked if Singapore’s population data could be made public.

Most data already in public domain?

In reply, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said most of the information is already available in the public domain.

Not in our interests to disclose?

Mr Teo said: “In some cases, we provide aggregated information or data instead of a more detailed breakdown because it may not be in our interests to do so.”

We need transparency?

I find it somewhat incredulous that the subject reply in Parliament seems to have evaded the crux of the issue on the transparency of the population statistics.

Breakdown into Singaporeans and PRs?

For example, what is the breakdown for employment growth every year for locals into Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs)?

If we can breakdown the unemployment statistics into Singaporeans and PRs, why can’t we do the same for everything else, like employment growth?

Sometimes, we get the median and 20th percentile wage data for residents, and rarely for Singaporeans. So, why can’t we be consistent and breakdown these statistics into Singaporeans, PRs and locals?

The same issue above may apply to the household data as well – income, citizen, PR and foreigner households, etc.

Regular consistency in statistics?

Also, why can’t we have regular annual breakdown of the population statistics into how many new citizens, PRs, LTVPs, employment passes, S-passes, work permits, etc, were granted?
How many gave up their citizenships, PRs, employment passes, etc, instead of inconsistent release of the absolute change in the various categories in a year.

To illustrate this issue, if the number of say PRs increased in a year by 30,000, but in fact 40,000 new PRs were granted, and 10,000 have left Singapore either temporarily or permanently – just telling us that the nunber of PRs increased by 30,000 is insufficient.

Not counted in foreign worker quota?

We should also be given the statistics on those who are not counted in the foreign worker quota, like foreign university interns and foreign spouses on LTVP-Plus.

Without this data, how do we know how many of the local jobs created went to Singaporeans?
What about foreign workers on short term projects of less than a year, which may not show up in the annual increase statistics?

In whose interests not to disclose?

I think most Singaporeans may be more interested or concerned about some of the above statistics, instead of the countries where foreigners are from, which was the reason cited for not giving more detailed population statistics because these are sensitive information which may not be in our interests to disclose.

Source : Leong Sze Hian
Leong Sze Hian is the Past President of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, an alumnus of Harvard University, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow and an author of 4 books. He is frequently quoted in the media.

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