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Oral Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Malaysians Working In Singapore

Notice Paper No. 17 of 2014 For The Sitting On 21 Jan 2014 Question No. 1688

MP: Mr Baey Yam Keng

To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower with regard to Malaysians who commute to Singapore to work (a) how many and what percentage are engaged in the informal sector of menial and other blue collar jobs (e.g. plumbers, air-conditioner servicemen, electricians); and (b) whether there is a concern that they are contributing to a wage depression of Singapore workers in similar trades and, if so, how is the Ministry addressing this.


  1. Across the overall group of Malaysian Work Permit Holders in Singapore, about 15% are in blue collar jobs such as plumbers, air-conditioner servicemen, and electricians.
  2. We have measures to help local workers even as companies are allowed to bring in foreign workers to augment their workforce. One of the measures is the Foreign Worker Levy, which raises the cost of the foreign worker. The Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC) is another measure that sets a limit on the proportion of foreign workers that can be employed. Firms that have reached their DRC limit will have to recruit and retain more locals in other for them to be eligible to hire more foreign workers.
  3. Over the past few years as part of our overall tightening effort, in order for us to restructure the economy and move towards more manpower-lean set ups, MOM has been reviewing both the levy and DRC on a regular basis. There has been progressive increase in levies for both S Pass and Work Permit Holders for all sectors, with the latest changes taking effect from 1 July 2014 and 1 July 2015. It is very important for companies to note the dates, which are coming quite soon. There were also progressive DRC cuts in the Services sector from 50% to 45% in July 2012 and from 45% to 40% in July 2013.
  4. But that is only part of the picture. We are also continuing our efforts to uplift low-wage workers in Singapore through creating good jobs, providing opportunities for them to enhance their employability and grow their incomes sustainably, and ensuring that they continue to share in the fruits of Singapore’s progress.