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Written Answer by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on efforts to strengthen the Singaporean core

Notice Paper no. 855 of 2017 For The sitting On 2 October 2017

Question No. 625 for Written Answer

MP: Mr Patrick Tay Teck Guan

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether he can provide an update on the Ministry's efforts in strengthening the Singaporean core and in particular (i) the total number of companies on the watchlist and (ii) the number of 'triple weak' companies where executive measures have been taken against them; and (b) whether the Ministry will take harsher measures against recalcitrant companies such as a moratorium on obtaining government contracts or penal sanctions.


  1. To encourage employers to strengthen the complementarity of foreign manpower with our local workforce instead of substituting foreigners for local workers, we take into consideration whether the employers have treated our local workers fairly when we process their applications for Employment Passes (EP). While the vast majority of employers are fair, there is evidence that a small minority are not. For these employers, we subject their EP applications to further scrutiny under the Fair Consideration Framework Watchlist.
  2. We currently have about 300 firms on the Watchlist. The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices has been working with them to improve their HR practices. More than 60 firms have already made significant improvements and exited the Watchlist, while 25 firms that remain uncooperative have had their work pass privileges curtailed. In all, about 1,700 EP applications were either withdrawn by the firms, or rejected or withheld by MOM. Over the same period, these firms considered Singaporeans more fairly and hired about 1,700 more Singaporean PMETs. We will continue to help them improve their HR practices.
  3. At the other end of the spectrum, there are progressive employers who believe in strengthening their Singaporean Core and nurturing human capital as their core asset. We have recognised over 70 of them under the Human Capital Partnership Programme. We support them proactively with relevant grants and incentives under various government schemes to develop their employees and strengthen their Singaporean core. Their work pass applications are also processed more timely. We will continue to grow the community of progressive employers with our tripartite partners and sector agencies.