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Speech by Minister for Manpower, Mrs Josephine Teo at Debate on President's Address

  1. I rise in support of the motion of thanks.
  2. In our recent memory, the most severe economic downturn in Singapore had been the Global Financial Crisis
    • I was then in the labour movement
      • Welcomed the government’s Resilience Package
      • $20.5B
    • Barely 12 months after the collapse of Lehman Brothers that precipitated GFC, there was talk about “green shoots”.
    • In 2009, Singapore’s GDP did not shrink, managing to grow 0.1%.
    • The following year, our economy powered ahead to double digit growth.
  3. Fast forward to 2020, having battled COVID-19 for about eight months, we see how much more severe the impact will be.
    • Government has already introduced four Budgets of support, costing close to $100B.
    • Salary support under the Jobs Support Scheme went up to 75% during the circuit breaker, far higher than the 12% under the Jobs Credit Scheme in 2009.
    • Although unemployment has not reached the highs of past recessions, we know this is not a given.
    • We are still in the middle of a storm, and it will be sometime before we see “green shoots”.
  4. Against this backdrop, there is anxiety and a heightened sense of insecurity about jobs.
    • I understand our workers’ worries.
    • I appreciate it has not been an easy time for many.
  5. For today’s debate, I want to focus on two groups in particular
    • Workers who perform essential services but don’t earn as much.
    • PMETs in their 40s and 50s.

    Uplifting Wages for workers who earn less
  6. For over a decade, we have made concerted efforts to raise wages at the lower-end.
    • As part of our social compact, we introduced Workfare in 2007 to mitigate income inequality.
    • NTUC pioneered Progressive Wage Model (PWM) in 2012, which now covers around 80,000 workers in the cleaning, security, and landscaping sectors.
    • In 2016, the Government launched the Silver Support scheme to provide better retirement support for Singaporeans who did not earn as much throughout their working lives. Dr Koh Poh Koon has a slightly different take on the government support. He called it the triple uplift model.
  7. Right now, concerns about job and income losses must weigh on us as Parliament debates our next moves in raising wages for workers who earn less.
    • What is our preferred approach to moderating income inequality in Singapore?
    • Specifically, do we continue with expansion of PWM over time as the NTUC have advocated or shift towards a national minimum wage or a living wage as some parties have called for?
  8. This debate, however, is not new. We have considered it before.
  9. Although we have not legislated a single minimum wage across the board, we have in fact implemented features of a “Minimum Wage ” through the PWM in several sectors.
  10. WP’s MPs acknowledge this too.
    • In Mar 2015, Mr Gerald Giam urged the Government “to look into introducing sectoral minimum wages under PWM to more domestic-oriented sectors….”
    • On 15 Jul this year, Mr Yee Jenn Jong said, “the government is also not alien to the concept of Minimum Wage, except that they practise it for selected industries only via the Progressive Wage Model.”
  11. At the same time, we have complemented the PWM with Workfare and skills training, and the results have been good.
    • In the last 5 years, workers in PWM sectors have seen cumulative wage growth of around 30%
    • This is compared to 21% for workers at the median.
  12. Ramli Bin Mohd Hussin, my long-time brother from the labour movement, sees first-hand how these schemes have helped workers.
    • As senior operations manager of an environmental services company, he supervises about 120 cleaners.
    • In fact, for many years, Ramli himself worked as a cleaner. Workfare supplemented his wages, but it was PWM that gave him a chance to move up and build a career.
    • At age 47, he has upgraded to a 4-room HDB flat in Yishun.
    • Of his four children, the eldest was encouraged by him to join the cleaning profession, #2 has just completed NS after getting his polytechnic diploma, #3 started a small business, and the youngest is still in school.
    • Ramli also feels a great sense of accomplishment that an ex-offender whom he had been nurturing, was recently promoted to Team Leader.
  13. The result of our approach in Singapore is what two local economists, Kenneth Ler and Ivan Png, described as a unique kind of MW policy that succeeded in raising wages without apparently reducing employment.
  14. Outside of sectors with PWM sectors, Workfare and the Special Employment Credit (SEC) have also raised wages without risking unemployment.
    • Take a 60 year old worker whose employer had been prepared to pay $1,200 a month.
    • When SEC and Workfare are added, the worker earns $1,593, 33% more than the employer’s willingness to pay.
    • Had a national MW been set at $1,600 instead of boosting his income with SEC and Workfare, would the worker still have a job? Perhaps, if the labour market is very tight but perhaps not when economic conditions take a dive.
  15. Therefore, to uplift workers who earn less, the Government’s preferred approach that is also supported by the labour movement, has four prongs:
    • First, to regularly adjust Workfare to support employability while ensuring that we continue to mitigate income inequality. MPs like Mr Gan Thiam Poh support this.
    • Second, to raise wages in PWM sectors at an appropriate pace, taking care of the need to preserve low unemployment among workers.
    • Third, to expand PWM over time to more sectors, taking care to assess the capacity of businesses in those sectors to absorb the change, especially our SME employers.
    • Fourth, to raise standards of living for lower-income workers in other meaningful ways, such as acquiring skills to progress, achieving home ownership, providing access to quality healthcare, education for their children and adequate support in their retirement.
  16. This is a holistic and sustainable approach to uplift our lower-income workers, and is an extension of social mobility beyond school years into working life.
  17. We have been building on this approach, steadily and with focus.
    • Earlier this year, we expanded Workfare coverage and raised payouts.
    • A Workfare Special Payment of $3,000 has also helped to cushion the impact of COVID-19 on lower-income workers.
  18. Dr Koh Poh Koon called for the implementation of PWM. In principle We are aligned. The question is of timing.
  19. In the security sector, 38 year old Raymond Chin has seen similar progress to his current position as Senior Operations Manager. However, during a recent conversation, Raymond told me his concerns about security officers earning less this year.
    • When calling for new tenders, clients are asking for fewer workers.
    • Full-time workers have fewer overtime hours or may lose their seniority when displaced.
    • Part-time workers have fewer assignments.
    • Similar trends are observed in the hospitality and F&B sectors.
  20. Businesses are still trying to find a firmer footing.
    • Therefore, any moves to expand PWM into new sectors immediately, in the midst of great uncertainty in the labour market, therefore carries higher risk.
    • Given our overriding priority to preserve jobs, we should proceed with care.
  21. While it may be too risky to mandate PWM in more sectors right away, we can still promote its voluntary adoption by progressive employers that are able to do so.
  22. To give this effort a bigger push, the government will work with the tripartite partners to introduce a PWM Mark.
    • Companies that voluntarily pay progressive wages and provide job progression pathways to their lower-income workers will be recognised with this PWM Mark.
    • Several sectors, including Food Services and Retail Trade have the potential to come on board.
  23. For the PWM Mark to work, there must however, be a broader movement involving society at large.
    • As consumers, we must be prepared to pay slightly more, and intentionally support such progressive companies by purchasing their products or services.
    • This will spur more companies to be progressive and adopt the PWM Mark, which in turn will benefit our lower-income workers.
    • I hope MPs will agree with me, that we must have it in our hearts to consider this a small price to pay for better jobs and income security for those among us who need it most.

    PMETs in their 40s and 50s 
  24. Mr Speaker, since this debate started, many MPs have spoken passionately about the Singaporean core and changes they hope to see in our work pass policies - Mr Patrick Tay, Mr Pritam Singh, Mr Saktiandi Supaat, and Ms Foo Mee Har.
  25. At the same time, they, as well as MPs like Ms Jessica Tan and Mr Henry Kwek acknowledge that foreigners are still needed to complement the Singaporean workforce.
  26. In fact, we have adjusted work pass policies regularly and slowed down the growth of EP and S Pass holders considerably.
    • In the last five years (2014-2019), the number of EP and S Pass holders has grown on average, less than 9,000 annually. This is less than one third of the average annual growth of 30,400 in the earlier 5-year period (2009-2014).
    • At the same time, in the last five years (2014-2019), the number of locals in PMET jobs has grown on average, around 35,000 annually.
    • In other words, for every new EP or S Pass holder added in the last 5 years, about 4 more locals took up PMET jobs
    • It should also be noted that throughout this period, the population of PRs has remained stable, at about 0.5 million. It would therefore be wrong to attribute the growth of locals in PMET jobs to an increase in PRs.
  27. Mr Speaker, in his earlier speech, Mr Leong Mun Wai reminisced about the good old days. But I have a question – Was it really so good? In the 90s, about 3 in 10 locals were in PMET jobs. Mr Leong may not have realised this, but it could almost be said at that time to have be in the privileged minority. Fast forward to today, nearly 6 in 10 locals are in PMET jobs. In fact local PMETs outnumber EP holders 7 is to 1. For every EP holder you can find, there are 7 locals in PMET jobs.
  28. With COVID-19, the number of EP and S Pass holders have come down sharply. Between January and July this year, it dropped by 22,000.
  29. While the numbers are moving in the right direction, PMETs in their 40s and 50s are still concerned. In this period of great uncertainty, two questions loom large:
    • When retrenchments become inevitable, will they be targeted by employers because of age and wage-seniority, especially when compared to their younger foreign colleagues?
    • When applying for jobs, will they be passed over, especially with employers having continued access to EP and S Pass holders?
  30. Let me deal with these questions in turn.
  31. MOM actively monitors retrenchment practices, and looks into how retrenchment exercises are conducted. There are the 10 key questions we ask:
    • Did the employer implement any other alternatives, such as cost-saving measures before considering retrenchment?
    • Were efforts made to reskill and re-deploy staff, before embarking on a retrenchment exercise?
    • Does the business situation warrant a retrenchment?
    • Did the employers put in place clear criteria to identify workers to be retrenched?
    • Did these criteria discriminate against any employee on the basis of age, gender, ethnicity or family circumstances?
    • Did the company provide retrenchment benefit commensurate with its financial position?
    • In a unionised company, were the selection criteria and retrenchment benefit discussed and agreed to with the union?
    • Did the company put in place measures to support the workers’ transition e.g. engaging WSG or e2i for job assistance?
    • Did the company communicate its business situation and plans clearly, sensitively and with adequate notice to affected employees?
    • Was the company’s Singaporean core weakened as a result of the retrenchment exercise?
  32. In vast majority of the cases, retrenchments have been conducted fairly and responsibly.
    • Where older Singaporeans have been let go, this has generally been the result of criteria like relevance of skillsets to core functions. This factor explains why in some retrenchment exercises, seniors comprise a higher share.
    • By and large, there has also not been a weakening of the Singaporean core. In the case of Resort World, for example, a foreign employee must meet a higher performance bar than his local colleague to be retained.
  33. Notwithstanding these reassuring observations, we will remain vigilant. We will also work with tripartite partners to advance sound practices:
    • Through updating the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment, for example.
    • Or the Fair Retrenchment Framework proposed by NTUC.
  34. Besides actively monitoring retrenchment practices, we will intensify other efforts to ensure fair treatment of locals applying for jobs.
  35. In last week’s announcement of the tightening of EP and S Pass requirements, one aspect was not prominently reported.
  36. We had made clear that in evaluating EP and S Pass applications:
    • MOM will place additional emphasis on whether the employer has kept up its support of local PMETs in its employment. In substance, this achieves what Ms Foo Mee Har would like to see, a tilt in support of local PMETs that goes beyond fair consideration.
    • Among other things, an employer’s record in how it handles retrenchment exercises will certainly have a bearing.
    • For example, is an EP or S Pass applicant a replacement for a local who was only recently retrenched? If so, MOM will ask why and turn down the application unless there are very good reasons.
  37. We will also place additional emphasis on whether the employer has been responsive to efforts by government agencies to help it recruit and train local PMETs.
    • Mr Ang Wei Neng supported a balanced work pass policy that is neither too restrictive nor facilitative for employers.
      • He felt that continued access to EP and S Pass holders can help businesses to grow, which in turn expands opportunities for Singaporeans.
      • Businesses should not exploit this access but must instead make serious efforts to build local capabilities.
    • Ms Mariam Jaafar goes further.
      • She calls on employers to look past paper qualifications and consider local job applicants who don’t necessarily tick all the boxes, but who can be nurtured with support from government.
    • MOM agrees. This should in fact, become pervasive, a regular feature of our employment landscape, the norm and not the exception.
    • Therefore, in specific areas of skills shortages and where there is strong interest from locals, we will also assess if agencies like WSG, MAS and IMDA have been able to get an employer on board their many programmes to strengthen the development of local PMETs. This will have a bearing on their EP and S Pass applications.
  38. Conversely, we take into consideration whether an employer has discriminated against qualified local PMETs.
    • Of all possible infringements, this is what offends Singaporeans most, that they have the qualifications but lost out to a foreign candidate who did not appear to be better.
    • To curb such unacceptable behaviour, MOM has regularly taken employers to task for practices like pre-selecting a foreign candidate and disregarding qualified local candidates.
    • We agree with Ms Foo, that if in fact, there are equally or better qualified local candidates, it would only be logical that they be given priority consideration. This is one of the reasons why the company to be in Singapore in the first place.
    • This year alone, 90 employers have had their work pass privileges suspended because of infringements under the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF).
    • In one instance of a healthcare multinational, investigations found that 26 local candidates had responded to an advertisement on MyCareersFuture.gov.sg.
      • Although seven met the job requirements, none were shortlisted or interviewed. Two candidates were deemed “over-qualified”.
      • Other candidates were rejected for not meeting requirements that were not stated in the job advertisement in the first place e.g. 6-sigma certification. This company was clearly not serious in considering local applicants.
        • As a penalty, it will not be able to hire or renew EP holders for 12 months. Anyone in business know that this is serious.
        • To stay in business, they will have to recruit more locals, something they should have done all along
  39. I have outlined these additional considerations for EP and S Pass applications, but they are not new.
    • We are re-stating them to remind employers of the need to step up their hiring practices and HR management, and
    • The efforts they must make to help sustain a business-friendly work pass policy.
  40. At the same time, we will build on the FCF to engage more employers.
    • Since 2016, more than 1,200 employers have been scrutinised under the FCF. To put the number in context, in the last 5 years about 75,000 employers have applied for EPs at least once.
    • Firms that are scrutinised have not flouted any rules yet, unlike the example cited above.
    • Instead, we have identified them through proactive surveillance because of their unusually high reliance on foreigners in their PMET workforce, when compared to industry peers.
    • Until they improve, we will reject or hold back their work pass applications.
    • At the same time, TAFEP engages them to understand their problems and help them strengthen their hiring practices.
    • For example, we found that one firm dealt with high net-worth clients from a particular country with language and cultural preferences. This company need not have been in Singapore. They could have served these high net worth clients from somewhere else; Hong Kong for example. Nonetheless, through TAFEP’s advice, it agreed that non-client-facing roles could be filled by locals.
    • In another instance, the company had been genuinely unfamiliar with local recruitment channels and welcomed WSG’s assistance.
    • In yet another case, the local office sought special approval from their overseas HQ to expand recruitment criteria to take into account local conditions. They were in fact grateful to TAFEP for having helped to bring about this change.
    • In all, 3,200 EP applications have been rejected or withheld by MOM, or withdrawn by employers while they were being scrutinised.
    • But these employers have hired more than 4,800 Singaporean PMETs as a result.
    • In other words, this targeted approach has helped to keep and expand local PMET employment in these firms.
    • If instead we had vilified these firms through a name-and-shame approach, we would have frustrated their efforts to expand local hiring. This is ultimately counter-productive.
    • Our alternative approach of scrutinising and engaging employers is highly resource-intensive but in fact, a more effective way to get businesses to reshape their HR practices.
  41. This is why MOM plans to engage an expanded group of employers to review their hiring practices.
    • This expanded group will include firms whose Singaporean core has been weakening; or
    • Whose EP and S Pass workforce are overly concentrated from a single foreign nationality source.
    • Through active intervention, we will help them reshape their workforce profiles.
    • We will do this together with economic agencies like EDB and MAS.
    • As Mr Ang suggested, we will also engage the HR community to do more
  42. Sir, like many MPs, I receive direct feedback from Singaporeans. They write to tell me about specific job application attempts where they felt they had been sidelined, or retrenchment exercises where they felt they had been treated unfairly. They may also share observations where FCF rules were ignored.
  43. MOM takes all such feedback seriously, as they complement our own proactive surveillance.
  44. We investigate thoroughly by interviewing the parties concerned and going through relevant records and exchanges, to ensure that the retrenchment and hiring decisions have been conducted fairly.
    • For example, a whistle blower told us his former employer, an IT consultancy firm, had hired an EP holder through the recommendation of another EP holder who was a friend.
    • Recommending friends for job openings is not by itself wrong.
    • The problem here was that the employer had not considered other possible local candidates at all.
    • This decision was cleared with the General Manager which made it worse.
    • As a penalty, the company will not be able to hire or renew work passes for 18 months.
  45. I hope these examples reassure members that where there’s evidence of unfairness, we will not hesitate to hold employers to account and lean on them to do better in future.
  46. However, such actions do not always bring satisfaction to the victims.
    • Something is inevitably damaged in the process - the sense of fairness and trust in the organisation.
    • As MPs have pointed out, for every errant employer caught, there are other bad hats who still try to circumvent the rules
  47. This is why MOM calls on employer groups to also step up.
    • No amount of rules will be enough if employers do not have the shared sense of commitment to fair hiring and responsible retrenchment
    • No amount of enforcement resources will catch enough employers if they are determined to hide
    • What we lose then is not just a job opportunity for a local, but the trust that the system is fair, that the odds were not stacked against people who are trying
    • The Government cannot do this alone. We need employers to do your part: be fair to locals when you hire or have to retrench.
  48. Mr Speaker, in these uncertain times, there have also been suggestions to use levies and quotas to regulate the number of EP holders.
  49. I would like to share some considerations with members.
    • At the Work Permit level, we use levies on top of quotas to regulate demand because the numbers are big.
    • At the EP level where the numbers are not as big, our key objective is to regulate quality.
      • By raising the salary requirements, over time, this sets a higher bar that EP holders must reach to work in Singapore. Think of it as a high jump. Need more skills and talent to cross a higher bar.
      • The other effect is to push EP holders at the lower-end down to the S Pass-level where there are quota controls, something which levies will not do.
      • In all past adjustments to EP salary requirements, a good number are downgraded to S Passes.
    • What about employers who falsely declare salaries to meet the higher bar? The answer must be to strengthen enforcement which we have been doing, and not to withhold the raising of the bar.
    • In fact, in the last five years, we have taken action in over 1,200 cases of false declarations or kickbacks, and secured nearly 388 convictions through prosecution.
  50. Raising EP salary requirements helps to improve quality over time, and subject more foreign professionals at the lower end to quota controls. To similarly impose quotas at the higher end of EP holders is not unthinkable. But it would be unwise.
    • When competing for the most cutting-edge investments and sophisticated activities to be moved to Singapore, we need to give agencies like EDB and MAS flexibility.
    • For this purpose, it is much better to use salary requirements to ensure companies get access to foreign professionals of the right quality, and marry them with firm-level commitments to build up local capabilities over time.
    • Without such flexibility, many of the top-quality investments would have been lost to our competitors, and the job opportunities along with them. As several MPs have alluded to, there’s no shortage of takers ready to eat our lunch.
  51. Mr Speaker, I would now say a few words in Mandarin.

    重点保障本地劳动市场的新加坡人核心
  52. 人力部一贯的做法,就是会根据本地就业市场的情况,定期调整就业及S准证薪金的门槛。调整外籍员工薪金门槛的原因,就只有一个:就是要保障新加坡人的生计。
  53. 以就业准证来说,2017年调整了一次,今年三月其实也才进行新一轮的调整。但是,因为就业市场在过去半年起了非常巨大、迅速的变化,人力部不得不采取进一步的行动。因此,上个星期,人力部宣布进一步上调就业及S准证的薪金门槛。
  54. 外籍员工的薪金门槛提高,一些国人或许会担心,会不会有公司坚持要聘请外籍员工,而增加他们薪水,到头来是否两头不到岸?一些议员在昨天的辩论中也提出,为何不为就业准证设定配额,限制到我国来工作的高薪外籍员工?国人的这些顾虑,我能够理解。
  55. 要为就业准证设定配额,并不是不可考虑的做法,但却会是不甚明智的做法。在本地就业的外籍员工,以工作准证和S准证为大多数,因此,人力部设定配额和外劳税, 控制企业公司能供聘请的外籍员工。
  56. 凭就业准证来到本地工作的外国专业人士,人数相对的少,而我们比较重视的是这些外国人的素质,例如,他们可能拥有特殊的技能,能够帮助企业公司开拓新领域,日后也可把技能转移给新加坡人。因此,政府通过调整薪金门槛来确保公司聘请到的是有才之士。
  57. 如果这些外籍员工的专长和经验无法达到薪金门槛,他们就无法凭就业准证来到我国打工,而只能获得S准证。过去几轮的薪金门槛调整,就有不少外籍员工的就业准证不获得批准,如果公司的S准证配额已经用满,这些外国人就无法到本地工作或是续约。
  58. 我在此要呼吁所有的老板们,在目前这个非常时期,如果公司因为业务上的需求,非得聘请外籍员工不可,务必要公平考虑本地的求职者。公司和企业有责任努力建立和保留公司团队中的新加坡人核心,在目前这样的氛围、这样的时刻,尤其关键。
  59. 人力部在批准所有就业与S准证时,向来都会考虑申请的公司是否有投入资源去聘请和栽培新加坡人,同时留意公司在过去是否曾经不公平对待合格的新加坡求职者。
  60. 在目前的困难时期,我们会格外着重于这些考量,盯紧公司的招聘情况。理由很简单:就是要提醒并鼓励公司企业,培养本地劳动队伍的重要性,同时帮助正在找工作的新加坡人,争取到好的工作,让他们能够重返职场。
  61. 我在这里也要给老板们一个建议:请务必从长计议,乘着经济情况低靡、公司正在重整业务的这个时候,考虑公司整个工作团队的组合,是否也应该做出相应的调整。政府为企业提供了不少非常有利于招聘和留任本地员工的补贴与奖励,因此,我希望老板们认真考虑扩大本地员工的比例,聘请更多本地员工的同时,也能够舒缓、减轻公司的运作成本,以及薪金压力。
  62. 这其实是双赢的做法 -- 求职者得以重返职场,公司和企业也能够聘请或留任足够的人手,重整旗鼓。
  63. MPs in the house are agreed that while we keep Singapore open, we need to ensure fair treatment and we must also do everything possible to give our people a leg up.
  64. What then can we do to further tilt the balance in favour of local PMETs, including those in their 40s and 50s?
    • How can we enable more of them to take up good jobs created?
    • And grow into roles that employers presently hire EP or S Pass holders for?

    Leaning forward
  65. First, businesses that retain and hire locals get an extra dose of support from the government. This is exactly what Ms Mariam Jaafar called for.
    • The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), that has been extended to March 2021, is one example.
    • The Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) is another, that comes on top of JSS.
      • With $1 billion set aside, this is Singapore’s biggest push ever to help employers stretch their manpower budgets and expand hiring of locals.
      • Over the next six months, every business that ups its local headcounts will get extra support.
  66. Another way to tilt the balance is to support the cost of skills re-training for employers.
    • Take for example, our Professional Conversion Programmes.
      • PCPs provide employers with generous training and salary support to re-skill and hire mid-career local jobseekers, with higher support for mature workers aged 40 and above.
      • This also benefits the PCP employees, with about 9 in 10 remaining employed 24 months after being placed, and about 7 in 10 earning higher wages after starting their new jobs.
    • PCPs have also helped Singaporeans like Merly Savantraj bounce back.
      • Merly was with her previous company for the past 13 years carrying out system support of IT certification systems
      • Unfortunately, she was let go in Feb.
      • When searching for a new job, she realised that her IT skills had become obsolete, as she was performing traditional IT tasks all this while.
      • Hard as it was, she accepted the need to upgrade her skills
      • Through the Professional Conversion Programme for Salesforce Platform Professionals, she managed to start in a job that she did not any prior experience in.
  67. A third way to tilt the balance for local PMETs, is by plugging hiring gaps with attachments and skills training opportunities for mid-career individuals.
    • While recognising the preference for a job, these company-hosted attachments and skills training programmes will nonetheless position jobseekers better with industry-relevant experience
    • When the economy recovers, their CVs will be more polished
    • And they will stand a better chance of bouncing back into jobs they prefer
  68. Beyond these efforts, agencies like MAS will continue to press on with their bold and significant plans to support and encourage businesses to build up Singaporeans for senior roles.
    • Minister Ong Ye Kung will speak later today and share some of these plans.
    • In many ways, these specific programmes and initiatives will be more effective in growing the local talent pipeline for the top jobs, complementing broad-based tools like work pass policies
    • We must therefore not miss the woods for the trees, by focussing narrowly on keeping foreigners out, and missing the larger picture of growing the pie and giving Singaporeans the chance of the best slice

    Ending remarks
  69. Mr Speaker, COVID-19 is a major test of our resilience and unity as a people.
    • Our workforce too has been severely stressed
    • We understand the anxieties of PMETs in their 40s and 50s, and their concerns about fair treatment and fair opportunities
    • We also appreciate the need to keep supporting workers who earn less to grow their incomes over time
  70. Everyday single day, workers like Ramli, Raymond and Merly remind the MOM team what our work is about. We are always here,
    • Listening to their struggles
    • Thinking deeply about the support they need
    • Recognising the constraints
    • Adjusting policies in their best interests
    • Finding better ways to protect them against unfair practices
    • Ultimately, helping them get onto the path of growth in their work lives
  71. To all the other Ramlis, Raymonds and Merlys out there
    • We know that in your hearts, you care most about the well-being of your families and loved ones.
    • You want to do well not just for yourself, but for them
  72. Please know that you too are always in our hearts
    • However long this storm lasts, MOM will walk the journey together with you
    • However tough it may be, we will help you bounce back
  73. Our mission is to help each one of you emerge stronger
    • By never giving up hope
    • And by working with employers in Singapore
    • To treat you fairly
    • To make your hard work bear fruit
  74. Our work is not yet done.
    • We have taken firm steps forward.
    • And we will press on whatever the challenges,
    • With you, for you, for Singapore.
  75. Thank you.