29 Aug 2012, 12.01AM
In response to the prime ministers NDR 2012 coverage on discrimination against foreigners, I would like to highlight that discrimination works both ways. Some Singaporeans are xenophobic but many more are frustrated by the government favoring foreigners over locals. I would like to relate what is happening on the ground to the government.
I worked in AIA Singapore as an Actuary and this is a highly regarded profession. There is no lack of Singaporean actuarial science graduates and there are far from enough jobs for them in Singapore. In my office, many young Singaporeans are passed over for fresh graduates positions for Malaysians because the hiring managers are Malaysians. It is telling that more than 90% are foreigners and 75% are Malaysians. There are some really good Malaysian candidates but as a whole, Malaysian candidates are not better candidates than Singaporeans from local universities and good foreign universities. I once overheard that a young Singaporean candidate is not chosen because he needs to go off for 2 - 3 weeks for reservist! WOW! Verbal discrimination against Singaporeans is also rampant and hurtful but I will not touch on them here as it cannot be verified easily.
Spewing vitriol comments online is much better than employment discrimination but what has the government done about employment discrimination? The government has turned on the "foreign tap" but did not ensure a level playing field. The first job deeply affects a person's career for the rest of his life. We have no laws to protect locals from employment discrimination but our PM is willing to stand up for foreigners from fire online. Is this fair for Singaporeans? This is exactly the frustration from locals who feels that the government is favoring foreigners over locals. Another case that is very obvious is the way our government treat new citizens and give out stipends to help foreign students, lets just say that original citizens also have a hard time paying for education (many took loans) and it is equally demanding on our lifes and aspirations to serve national service. Why should new citizens not serve NS and original citizens goes to jail if they do not want to serve? Why should local students take loans (many of whom have better grades) and foreigners get stipends? I have 3 colleagues who were on such schemes. I have heard many Singaporean soldiers said that they rather be foreigners during reservist, get free university, don't need to serve army and just give up Singapore citizenship when they retire! Does the government think this is the way forward? I think Singapore is in serious trouble as there will be too few that is loyal to this land to bring the nation forward.
If citizens from another country (say Australia or Korea) faces the same employment discrimination and competition as Singaporeans, the government would be dealing with a sharp spite in hate crimes or even riots and not some nasty online comments. The government should be grateful for a peaceful and civilised citizenry and focus on doing its job of serving Singaporeans.