Photo of Chan Chun Sing from Straits Times

Newly-appointed Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing has announced that the government will maintain open immigration policies to take in more foreign labour. The PAP Minister claimed that foreign labour will improve the quality of the workforce:

“Talent will play an increasingly important part in directing Singapore’s next phase of growth to become an innovation-driven economy. They improve the quality of the workforce, as trade associations, companies and the Government implement the various Industry Transformation Maps – strategic plans tailored for industries to address specific issues. Beyond connectivity and a pro-business environment, another key criterion for our continued success is being open to talent.”

Minister Chan Chun Sing also said that the “Singapore core” in the workforce require Singaporeans to go for upgrading and “reskill” through SkillsFuture:

“Maintaining a strong Singaporean core through programmes such as SkillsFuture, which helps Singaporeans upgrade and reskill, goes in tandem with remaining open to talent worldwide. Foreign labour complements Singaporean workers and brings along relevant skills to create new industries and job opportunities.”

The former army general then declared that the rest of the world is Singapore’s “hinterland”:

“We see the world as our hinterland, and doing so has allowed us to transcend our physical constraints and avoid being circumscribed by geography.”

Minister Chan Chun Sing pinned his hopes on the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, saying that the FTA, when signed, would “send a powerful signal to the rest of the world”.

Since 2014, EU has yet to ratify the FTA agreement due to lack of equivalent employment rights and scrutiny on taxes in Singapore. The FTA is unlikely to pass as some EU countries are reluctant to sign a deal with Singapore, a tax haven and money-laundering hub.

Minister Chan Chun Sing is currently guided by former Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang, as the former have zero experience in trade, economics and the private sector.