Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister of State Chan Chun Sing are in the spotlight recently for giving two opposing direction on overseas employment for Singaporeans. In his interview with TIMES magazine earlier in July, PM Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore will be depleted if more Singaporeans are leaving the country:

“With Singaporeans, you speak English, you’re well-educated, the doors open everywhere. You can go to Silicon Valley, you can go to Sydney, you can go to Perth, you can go to London, Frankfurt, you’re welcomed and it’s not just talking about five, 10 per cent at the top who are like that but 30, 40, maybe even 50 per cent who are welcomed.

If the successful ones mostly leave, we’re going to be depleted. And if it goes beyond the successful ones, we’ll be shrunken.”

Photo of Chan Chun Sing with Lee Hsien Loong by weixin
Photo of Chan Chun Sing with Lee Hsien Loong by weixin

A week later, Minister of State Chan Chun Sing, who is rumored to be the next Prime Minister, said Singaporeans should gain more overseas exposure, contradicting his party’s Secretary-General. Minister of State Chan Chun Sing said to his audience at the annual Future Leaders Summit by NTUC, to spend a few years working overseas because the overseas experience matters:

How many of you have worked, lived overseas for more than two years?”

When only a few hands were raised, he shook his head.

“Not enough. Too few.” 

Minister Chan Chun Sing believes that Singaporeans should gather more overseas working experience to qualify for the top management positions the multi-national companies in Singapore are offering. The Minister added that he spoke to many CEOs and that these companies want people who have a global and regional perspectives, instead of serving only the Singapore market which has only a population of 5.5 million:

“There is no reason for people to set up their regional and global HQs in Singapore to serve the local market. They are doing this to serve the regional market and beyond. And they need a team of people with the global and regional perspectives. They don’t care whether it is Singaporean or not Singaporean. That’s the blunt truth. They only care whether their team has the global perspective.”

With that, Minister Chan Chun Sing encourages Singaporeans to get out of Singapore and “see the world”:

“Remember, every person that comes to Singapore (…) already have their experience (from) back home. So they know at least two markets. For us in Singapore, the more comfortable we are, and if we’re unwilling to move out, then we’ll only have one set of experience. We need to move around. And the good thing is that young people these days are very adventurous, and they have correct, positive attitude. Go forth, see the world, and conquer the world.”

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