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Chee Soon Juan: Addressing foreign labour as core issue in SDP’s upcoming GE campaign

SDP Chief Chee Soon Juan announced the tackling of foreign worker concerns as the party’s main focus in upcoming GE. He criticised PAP’s neglect of its impact on the city-state’s productivity, cost of living, inequality, and national identity.



SINGAPORE: Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has announced that tackling of foreign worker concerns will be a key focal point for the party in the upcoming General Election (GE).

SDP believes these issues will profoundly impact Singapore’s productivity, cost of living, inequality, and national identity, he added.

During Saturday’s (11 May) General Election Campaign launch at SDP headquarters, Dr Chee outlined the core campaign message, placing significant emphasis on the issue of foreign workers.

He emphasized that this message was not formulated arbitrarily but was the result of years of listening to the people, conducting research, and analyzing various sources including surveys, newspaper reports, and statements from government officials.

Dr  Chee expressed SDP’s intention to press Prime Minister-to-be Lawrence Wong to uphold the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) commitment to substantially reduce the influx of foreign workers.

He pointed out the failure of the PAP government to effectively address the productivity challenge over the past decade, despite its recognition as a significant policy concern.

Additionally, he stated that SDP would collaborate with economists to develop proposals aimed at diminishing Singapore’s dependence on foreign labour.

Dr Chee highlights impact of importing labours on Singapore’s productivity

Dr Chee referenced Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s 2015 statement highlighting productivity growth as crucial for a better quality of life. He also mentioned the late Lee Kuan Yew’s 2010 observation that Singapore’s growth was largely fueled by importing labour.

Dr Chee suggested that this reliance on imported labour had adverse effects on productivity, echoing economists’ warnings about the negative impact of employing cheap foreign labour.

Citing then-Minister of Trade and Industry Mr Lim Hng Kiang’s 2015 statement, Dr Chee noted Singapore’s failure to meet its targeted labour productivity growth rate of 2 to 3%, despite the government’s focus on productivity enhancement.

He pointed to several studies conducted over the past decade indicating insufficient productivity growth in Singapore, falling short of what is necessary to elevate living standards.

Chee said a continued reliance on foreign labour and foreign workers was a reason for the lower productivity, saying that businesses in Singapore utilised cheap labour rather than looking for real productivity improvements.

Concern regarding impact of foreign workforce influx on Singapore’s cost of living

Dr Chee expressed concerns about the impact of immigration on Singapore’s cost of living, particularly highlighting the soaring prices of HDB resale flats and private properties.

He drew attention to the inequality perpetuated by policies that allow rich foreigners to buy freehold land, contrasting this with the limitations faced by Singaporeans in passing on property to their heirs.

Emphasizing the link between rising property prices and the overall cost of living, Dr Chee underscored how inflated property values drive up rental costs and, subsequently, the prices of goods and services, burdening consumers with higher expenses.

On the issue of national identity, Dr Chee drew attention to the stark disparity between the exorbitant salaries of top executives like DBS CEO Piyush Gupta and the meagre wages earned by thousands of Singaporean workers.

“If we become a nation of food delivery and drivers, this is a big concern. Many Singaporeans even PAP members, have acknowledged that this might be a problem.”

“And what about national services? Who and what are we defending? When you talk about the character of our society? ”

He then cited a remark by then-Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in the 2012 budget speech, where he noted that a rapid influx of foreign workers could affect the Singaporean character of society.

“So even the government is very concerned about how a society functions,” Dr Che added.

Dr Chee further urged the PAP government to clearly articulate its commitment to substantial reductions in the influx of foreign workers, emphasizing the need for specific targets and timelines.

Expressing a firm stance, Chee emphasized that if the government fails to provide this clarity, the SDP will take proactive steps to propose precise measures.

“We will form a working committee, work with economists, work with organisational specialists, to come up with credible proposals so that we can tell Singaporeans what exactly should be done.”

SDP’s constituency prospects amidst uncertainty

When questioned separately by reporters regarding the potential advantage for the SDP amidst PAP embroiled in political controversies, including ex-Transport Minister S Iswaran facing corruption charges, Dr Chee disagreed.

“My own sense is that people see these issues as water under the bridge. I think people are looking forward to the issues that we’ve raised, and they are concerned about their future,” he said.

However, Dr Chee also highlighted other matters of concern, such as the SimplyGo transition delay, a forest clearing incident, and revelations about TraceTogether data access by the police.

He emphasized the importance of these issues in shaping the perception of the current PAP leadership, stating, “All these things do add up into us wanting to make sure that the people know that the PAP of today is not like the PAP of yesteryears. And these are the issues that Singaporeans are very concerned about.”

Regarding the constituencies the SDP was eyeing, Dr Chee acknowledged the uncertainty, stating, “Everything’s up in the air. ”

“We’re just anxiously holding with bated breath on the announcement of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC).”

“For now, all we can do is just “agak-agak” (estimate)… What blocks go into which constituencies is beyond our control.”

Dr Chee added that the SDP was focusing on the “northern and western sides” of the island.

SDP’s vote share surges in GE2020

In GE2020, the SDP chairman Dr Paul Tambyah contested in Bukit Panjang SMC but was defeated by PAP’s Mr Liang Eng Hwa.

However, Dr Tambyah managed to secure 46.26% of the vote, a significant increase from the 31.62% he received in GE2015.

Dr Chee Soon Juan contested in Bukit Batok SMC against incumbent Murali Pillai from PAP.

While Mr Pillai retained the seat, Dr Chee’s vote share increased to 45.2% from 38.77% in the 2016 by-election.

In Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, the SDP team, consisting of Mr Alfred Tan, Dr James Gomez, Ms. Min Cheong, and Mr Tan Jee Say, received 33.64% of the vote.

They competed against a PAP team led by Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Ms Sim Ann, Mr Christopher De Souza, and Mr Edward Chia.

The PAP team there included Dr Vivian Balakrishnam, 59, Ms Sim Ann, 45, Mr Christopher De Souza, 44, and Mr Edward Chia, 36.

Both parties had also gone head-to-head against each other in GE2015, with SDP winning 33.38 per cent of the vote then.

Similarly, in Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, SDP’s vote share increased to 36.82% from 31.27% in GE2015.

In Yuhua SMC, Mr Robin Low’s vote share increased to 29.46% from 26.46% in 2015, although he lost to PAP incumbent Ms Grace Fu, who was then the Minister of Community, Culture, and Youth.

The party had previously announced its intention to contest in Sembawang GRC in August 2022.

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Murali just promoted to MoS level, showing that the Pappies are worried for him. Maybe they think with his promotion, BB residents will gong-gong think he can bring more goodies. Unfortunately, he is one of the LESS active MP, BB being under Jurong-Clementi TC estate management. All he does is Meet-the-People once a week. Free Riding part-timer MP, hor.

CSJ on the other hand has said he will committed his full-time if elected to BB. But then he will be at the mercy of JCTC for estate management, upgrading works, project management, etc.

The ruling government has no exit plan for Singapore’s dependence on foreign workers and foreign MNCs. LHL couldn’t come up with one and I have no hope that his successor will figure it out either.

It’s a problem that has been delayed for far too long. If you keep kicking a can down the road for long enough, it’ll eventually find a cliff to fall off from.

Just as with the property / asset bubble, solving it will be painful. Letting these problems resolve on its own will be catastrophic.

Will more jobs be created for foreigners just like 2023? mee siam mai hum says we must be inclusive. Look our jobs gone ? tsk tsk tsk

very hard to win unless free riders want to give up their handouts and chicken wings. LOL

1) LKY achieved economic growth by sacrificing our birthrate (Stop at 2), pushing women to add to the GDP instead of having children.

2) Ah Goh achieved economic growth by squeezing Singaporean workers, causing our subsequent Work-Life imbalance.

3) Kayu Son achieved economic growth by importing cheap foreign labor, sacrificing the SG identity and our traditional social cohesion.

4) Looks like LawlanWong has little room to achieve further economic growth, while needing to squeeze his own balls to resolve the problems created from (1), (2) and (3). Good luck!

Vote for you our sons will become construction workers and our daughters will become maid.

Please contest at mcpherson..
You’ll get my vote…

SDP has always worked in our interests so voters please vote them in, if they campaign in your constituency as we will need representation in Parliament.

Like I said many times, this Chee or SDP prefers to make this problem of foreign labor ,as though it was a PAP problem. But will locals do such jobs even if paid above min wage? The answer is a ….NO. The locals are simply strawberries, preferring to chose a easy job that can earn a wage they deem is enough jobs like food delivery ,PHV etc where they do not need to toil under the sun or jobs that are long hours and physically demanding. You first have to change the mindset of locals ,before even addressing why the… Read more »

This should be a critical subject of Voters. Hope SDP can comprehensively lay out the full mistakes of PAP in erecting a full blooded SG core labour force not only for econ benefits, but a country’s long term nationhood survival benefit which is a fundamental structure of existence of a why and what SG. If not all the rest are nonsensical fringe arguments bcz without rice bowls, how to live, how to grow, how to EXIST day by day. One work to live to eat and live to work then, and eat. Thereafter tears of working for SG, for ourselves,… Read more »