statue faces the waterfront in Singapore's business district
Expats in Singapore are threatened with an end to the welcoming culture
Expatriot News October 2020
The question of how many expats should come to the country has moved to the
top of the political agenda in recent weeks.
In addition, there is the Corona crisis and the impact on strangers / expats
SPECIAL TALENTS IMMIGRATION
Singapore has long been considered one of the most attractive places for
foreign professionals and managers. But xenophobia is growing in the
High salaries, good career opportunities, all the conveniences of a modern
city life and twelve months of the year tropical sunshine: the Southeast
Asian metropolis of Singapore has long been the first choice for specialists
and managers from abroad who want to settle in Asia. Worldwide, expats only
have a better life in Switzerland, according to a study by the HSBC bank
But in the face of a historical economic crisis and a rising unemployment
rate, the highly qualified foreigners in the city-state are threatened with
an end to the welcoming culture: The question of how many expats should come
to the country and whether they will take away well-paid jobs from the local
population has been a whole lot in recent weeks moved high on the political
The government of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is now tightening the
criteria that are necessary for a work permit - and wants to take action
against companies that allegedly discriminate against Singaporeans.
"Especially in these uncertain times, I want to remind all employers to do
their part to expand the Singapore core workforce," Lee said in parliament
on Wednesday. Otherwise, the companies would have to reckon with
consequences when issuing new work permits for foreigners.
The day before, Lee's Minister of Labor, Josephine Teo, announced that she
would initiate an investigation into companies whose “Singaporean core” was
weakened. She wants to get these companies to redesign their profile with a
view to the origin of the employees.
Dissatisfaction is growing in the population
Teo's ministry put 47 employers on a watch list in early August on suspicion
of discriminating against the local population. According to the government,
the companies not named are said to have recruited more than 40 percent of
their specialists and managers from abroad. A large number of companies come
from the financial sector.
Hiring foreign personnel should now also become more expensive: Since
September 1, there has only been a work permit with a minimum monthly salary
of around 2800 euros. This lower threshold was raised for the second time
In the spring it was still 2200 euros. The minimum wages for the financial
sector are set to rise even further in December. "I would not be surprised
if fewer visas are issued in the future because the demand for foreigners
will drop," commented Grant Torrens, Singapore boss at the personnel service
With the planned restriction of the influx of skilled workers, the
government is reacting to growing dissatisfaction among the population. The
opposition Labor Party, which won more parliamentary seats than ever in the
July election, had called for a restriction on the influx of foreign workers
in its election manifesto.
sozialen Medien sorgte zuletzt eine Zunahme von fremdenfeindlichen Äußerungen
für Aufsehen, die sich unter anderem gegen den aus Indien stammenden Chef der
singapurischen Bank DBS Piyush Gupta richteten.
Government on the side of the Singaporeans
The Temasek sovereign wealth fund has also come under fire in recent weeks:
LinkedIn profiles have been shared online by foreign Temasek employees,
combined with criticism that the company is not hiring local people instead.
Temasek condemned this as a "divisive, racist campaign".
Prime Minister Lee tried to contribute to a rhetorical disarmament in
parliament: "Even if we adjust our criteria for work permits, we must not
give the impression that we are closing ourselves off," he said. After all,
being an international business center is Singapore's recipe for success.
At the same time, however, he underlined: "The government will always be on
the side of the Singaporeans." The only purpose of creating jobs for
foreigners is to ultimately improve the standard of living of the local
Singapore's voters gave the government a lesson - and that is also due to
Jamus Lim. The young, charismatic economics professor caused a sensation as
a candidate for the opposition Labor Party with a simple question: he wanted
to know why so many in a rich country like Singapore People are economically
left behind, said the 44-year-old former World Bank economist in the
election campaign. He called for more support for low wage earners and the
introduction of a minimum wage.
In view of the worst recession in its history, which threatens the Southeast
Asian city-state as a result of the corona crisis, the message reached the
After a high-profile appearance in a TV debate, Lim, who studied at Harvard
University and most recently taught at a business school in Singapore, won a
seat in parliament. He is thus part of a surprise success of the opposition,
which gave Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's ruling PAP party one of the
worst results in its history.
As expected, the ruling party still retains its comfortable majority: The
PAP has been in power in Singapore for six decades - longer than any other
party in a democracy. Her massive influence on the mass media and a legal
system that makes it extremely difficult to deal critically with the
government help her.
Compared to the last election five years ago, the approval of government
policy has fallen significantly: The PAP received 61 percent of the vote - a
decrease of around nine percentage points. The result is only a touch better
than in 2011, when the ruling party got the worst result in its history.
In parliament, however, the PAP
remains the dominant force - due to the majority vote, which secures a
disproportionate number of seats. It now comes to 83 of the 93 mandates. The
Labor Party, the only one of ten opposition parties to make it into
parliament, will have ten members in the next legislative period.
Prime Minister Lee admitted a certain disappointment with the result. "We
got a clear mandate, but the percentage of the vote is not as high as I had
hoped," said Lee.
"That wasn't a good mood
The 68-year-old had preferred the elections, which should take place next
year at the latest, amid the corona crisis against criticism from the
opposition. Observers saw behind this the calculation that governing parties
often benefit in times of crisis.
In this case, however, that was not the case: "The result reflects the pain
and uncertainty felt by many Singaporeans," said Lee.
That wasn't a good mood
choice," he added.
Singapore has been grappling with the medical and economic consequences of
the coronavirus pandemic for months. With more than 45,000 cases per capita,
the city-state, which has a population of just under six million, has a
similar number of infections as Brazil. At the beginning of the pandemic,
the authorities managed to keep the outbreak under control with strict
quarantine rules and highly efficient contact tracing.
In its anti-corona policy,
however, the government neglected the guest workers' homes, in which
hundreds of thousands of foreigners live together in a very small space. The
virus then spread there at breakneck speed.
During the election campaign, Lee received criticism of the crisis policy
from, among others, his brother Lee Hsien Yang, who had joined the
opposition Progress Singapore Party shortly before the election. He
complained that the PAP - founded by the father of the two brothers, state
founder Lee Kuan Yew - had become too elitist and neglected the everyday
problems of the people in Singapore.
However, he did not run for a seat in parliament on the grounds that
Singapore's politics had seen enough lees. His party friends were also
unable to prevail in Friday's election.
The vote was characterized by safety measures designed to minimize health
risks. Voters were asked to keep one meter apart in the queues. There was an
absolute mask requirement.
Lee's last choice
Plastic gloves were distributed before the ballot papers were filled out.
The polling stations should be disinfected every half hour. Because the
procedure was very time-consuming, voting was extended by two hours.
For Prime Minister Lee, who has been in office since 2004, it was possibly
the last election as head of government. He had announced several times that
he wanted to leave office on his 70th birthday. That would be in two years.
With Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, the party has already decided on a
It is possible that the government, in view of the poor election result for
its own standards, will switch more to populist politics, as it did after
the poor performance in 2011.
At that time, she reacted, among other things,
immigration and taking measures against rising housing costs.
a result of the corona crisis, the government had already adopted several
stimulus packages with a volume of more than 70 billion US dollars in the
months before the election. For this year, the authorities are expecting
economic output to shrink by up to seven percent.
After Friday's election, Lee hinted that postponing his retirement is an
option. He said he wanted to stay at the top of Singapore's leadership until
the Covid-19 crisis was over.
The corona virus in the
guest workers' homes is getting out of control
Singapore almost had the coronavirus crisis under control. But now a massive
outbreak in the dormitories for foreign guest workers is shocking the rich
With the help of strict quarantine for infected people and travelers from
abroad, the metropolis was able to almost completely contain the virus
Singapore is one of the most prosperous countries in the world, but
many companies in the city-state save where they can when it comes to their
guest workers. In one of the dormitories in the north-east of the
metropolis, employers can rent accommodation for their employees at dumping
prices: a 48-square-meter room with bunk beds costs just under 200 euros per
The residents are mostly immigrants from countries such as India and
Bangladesh. A total of around 200,000 foreign workers in Singapore live in a
confined space in the cheap dormitories.
Quarantine obligations and canceled flights:
Asia's restart in the travel
business is chaotic
From India to Thailand to Singapore, the governments are trying to stimulate
travel again. This leads to problems. Lufthansa is also affected.