How PAP’s pro foreign worker policy has screwed Singaporeans

By: Phillip Ang

PAP needs to have a pro foreign worker policy because government-linked companies are the biggest employer of foreign workers.

Foreigners should be employed only after market forces have been allowed to determine fair wages. But under the PAP, it has already decided that wages must be kept low in order for GLCs to be profitable. It then introduced legislations to depress wages through the employment of foreigners and subsequently claimed that Singaporeans are choosy.

If market forces determine that wages of security personnel should be $4000, will Singaporeans be choosy? Will Singaporeans not want to be bus drivers if the starting salary is $3000? PAP is clearly talking cock but is able to do so because the duopolies of SMRT/SBS Transit and Certis Cisco/Aetos are controlled by Temasek.

Since the PAP government controls both demand and supply of labour, it therefore determines how low Singaporean drivers/security personnel/cleaners, etc should be paid.

Every PAP ‘solution’ only generates revenue for the government (levy collection) and GLCs and discriminates against citizens. An example is the manpower shortage in the security industry, eg Cisco Certis, which was highlighted in a previous post.

Another perfect example of discrimination against Singaporean SMRT bus drivers was highlighted by Ng E-jay in this post 4 years ago.

Discriminiating wages.jpg

On the surface, it appears Singaporean drivers earned higher wages but the reality was SMRT had been shortchanging them for years.

Although PRC drivers were getting $1000, SMRT had to pay Foreign Worker Levy (FWL) of about $400* and subsidised at least $220 for their accommodation and utilities. PRC drivers were getting benefits amounting to at least $420 more than Singaporeans per month. (see table below)

In the case of a Malaysian driver, monthly wages were similar but SMRT had to contribute about $400 in FWL. Why was SMRT willing to fork out a total of $1600 to hire a Malaysian driver but only $1200 for a Singaporean?

Why was government-linked SMRT willing to pay foreigners more than locals?

Even after taking into account employer CPF amounting to about $200, Singaporean drivers were still earning less than foreigners. Not forgetting CPF is in fact a tax which reduces disposable income by 20%.

The table below confirms how SMRT had been screwing Singaporean drivers (wages in July 2012 before increment).


*FWL was between $340 to $500 in 2012 MOM

But the game was up for SMRT in 2012 and wages were suddenly increased by $75, $200 and $575 for PRC, Malaysian and Singaporean drivers respectively. Corresponding improvements in productivity? None!

The sole reason for the relatively huge increment for Singaporean drivers – they had been shortchanged for years!

The situation in October after the July increment – SMRT was still willing to pay more for Malaysian drivers (table below).


PAP claims it is trying to reduce costs for citizens but there’s no other way except by increasing productivity growth. Instead, PAP has taken the easy way out by depressing Singaporeans’ wages.

Singaporeans should not benefit from fellow citizens’ misery.

PAP does not believe that every Singaporean should earn decent wages; be they cleaners, security personnel or drivers. Through flawed legislations, PAP has not only discriminated against Singaporeans but forced hundreds of thousands to compete for third world wages.

Singaporeans should not hope for any meaningful change in labour laws because, without PAP’s assistance, GLCs are not able to mitigate high rental cost/increase productivity and will go ‘pock kai’ in no time.

The best shortcut is, of course, to hire an increasing number of foreigners. This kills 2 birds with one stone: generate revenue for government and GLCs but at a huge expense of Singaporeans.

This is how Singaporeans have been, and will continue to be, screwed by our pro foreign worker policy.


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