Apr 14, 2009

Aren't They Quick to Change Their Headlines?

Around 7:30 am I was reading the Straits Times online and came across the following article:

Home > Breaking News > Singapore > Story
April 13, 2009
S'poreans will get most IR jobs
By Lee Wei Chean

TWO reports circulating on the Internet that half of the 10,000 jobs at Sentosa's upcoming integrated resort (IR) have been set aside for foreigners have created a furore among some Singaporeans.

Two publications in the Philippines - the Manila Standard Today and the Philippine Star - on April 4 quoted the country's President Gloria Arroyo as saying she has secured 5,000 positions at the casino-resort - opening next year - for Filipinos.

She was quoted as saying she had sent a delegation to Singapore last month to explore job opportunities for Filipino nationals here, and added that Labour Secretary Marianito Roque met Resorts World at Sentosa chief executive officer Tan Hee Teck to talk about opportunities for Filipinos.

Read the full story in Tuesday's edition of The Straits Times.

I found it somewhat suspicious that an article should be entitled "Singaporeans Will Get Most IR Jobs" when in fact, there's absolutely zero content in the article which tells you that this is so.

I got the feeling that the title reflected the conclusion that our obedient, nation-building press had already decided to convey. It was just that the unfortunate journalist just hadn't yet been able to find any facts to substantiate such a conclusion. I quickly saved a screenshot:

Fifteen minutes later, I checked the ST website again and I found that the title had suddenly changed.

Evidently the journalist gave up. He obviously couldn't find any real facts to substantiate the conclusion that "Singaporeans Will Get Most IR Jobs". So now the title had changed to "IR Jobs for Foreigners?".

The best thing the journalist could do was stick in a carefully-posed photo of three very Singaporean-looking Singaporeans. Then he added a caption to say that these are three Singaporeans that Resorts World has hired.

LOL. That's media for you - it's all about creating impressions. Well, I guess some readers will be fooled.

April 14, 2009
IR jobs for foreigners?
Resorts World reassures S'poreans that bulk of the jobs will go to them
By Lim Wei Chean

TWO reports circulating on the Internet that half of the 10,000 jobs at Sentosa's upcoming integrated resort (IR) have been set aside for foreigners have created a furore among some Singaporeans.

Two publications in the Philippines - the Manila Standard Today and the Philippine Star - on April 4 quoted the country's President Gloria Arroyo as saying she has secured 5,000 positions at the casino-resort - opening next year - for Filipinos.

She was quoted as saying she had sent a delegation to Singapore last month to explore job opportunities for Filipino nationals here, and added that Labour Secretary Marianito Roque met Resorts World at Sentosa chief executive officer Tan Hee Teck to talk about opportunities for Filipinos.

Manila Standard Today also quoted administrator Jennifer Manalili of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration as saying: 'They are expanding and there will be openings for workers for hotels, casinos and performers.'

Ms Manalili, who was part of the delegation here last month, added: 'Universal Studios will also have a theme park so they told us they want to hire Filipino talent and performers...They might come here to conduct auditions either next month or in June.'

She also told the Manila Standard Today the government will send another team here next month to 'finalise discussions and requirements for Filipino workers'.

The reaction on online forums here to the reports has been furious. Some said setting aside so many jobs for foreigners amounted to 'betrayal'. A netizen going by the nickname likedatosocan wrote on one local forum: 'I am jobless now and Singaporean. Why am I not employed? I can go low as well, I mean on salary. I speak English without accent. Why not hire me?'

Others questioned whether the service provided by the growing number of Filipino service staff here is better than that provided by Singaporeans.

When asked about the Philippine media reports, Resorts World spokesman Robin Goh would only confirm a meeting had taken place. 'The Philippine Embassy requested a meeting with Resorts World at Sentosa, which Resorts World hosted. Jobs for Filipinos were discussed during the meeting, in which Resorts World stated our commitment to hire Singaporeans first, particularly in this recession.'

He added: 'Resorts World will offer 10,000 jobs when we open, and we expect the bulk of them to go to Singaporeans.' He said the resort currently has 500 employees, of whom 80 per cent are Singaporeans and residents here. The remaining 20 per cent hail from countries like Australia, Britain, Malaysia and the United States.

The critical points of the story were left unaddressed. And the critical points are, of course - Why did Arroyo say that 5,000 jobs at Resort World are going to Filipino citizens? How can this statement be reconciled with Robin Goh's statement that the "bulk" of the 10,000 jobs will go to Singaporeans"? How many jobs are REALLY going to Singaporeans?

If there are 10,000 available jobs, and 5,000 of them go to Filipinos, then at best 5,000 of them are left for Singaporeans. That's half. That's not the "bulk".

Is the Straits Times not going to probe deeper and investigate WHY this inconsistency has come about? Was Arroyo lying or misquoted in the Philippine press or did she somehow misunderstand what Resorts World and the Sentosa CEO had told the Philippine delegation?

Or is the truth of the matter just something that happens to be too inconvenient for the Straits Times to talk about?


Alan Wong said...

From what I gather that my friends, any staff signing up for a contract to work in Genting will have a standard clause in their employment contract that forbids them from playing in any Genting casinos even when they have left Genting's employment for a certain no. of years.

I suppose this untrusting attitude may explain the rationale for employing more foreigners in their casinos so as to limit any possible collusion between their local staff with outsiders.

Another obvious reason is of course it would be very much cheaper to employ filipinos or other nationals as compared to locals. As for employing local Singaporeans, do you think they really cares ?

Not unless of course if our Gahmen is prepared to offer them some carrots in return ! Who do you think will have the upper hand in deciding such matters ?

dsowerg said...

Mr Wang, the title has changed again! See this: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3624/3439571689_36061a15e4.jpg

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Thanks, eve+line.

So I see that in one morning, the title has changed from:

1. "Singaporeans Will Get Most IR Jobs"


2. "IR Jobs for Foreigners?"


3. "Buzz Over Resort Jobs".

Well, I guess (2) is better than (1), since (1) is untrue, but (3) is better than (2), since (2) is not very "nation-building". LOL

Anonymous said...

Wang, there is a "trick" that can be used. Give these foreigners PR! Then like that, they would have hired "citizens" since our gahmen don't differciate between pink and blue IC in employment stats!

Anonymous said...

2, is also wrong. Because you can see that the Casino CEO interviewed did not dare to "clarify" or reject the statement.

So instead of "?" in 2. It shoud be a ".", meaning, instead of question if the casino jobs are for foreigners then attempting to debunk it with the Singaporean picture, they should put it as a statement that we have been betrayed and the casino is giving half the jobs to Filipinos, and sharing the remaining 5,000 between Singaporeans and other foreigners.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 10:17 AM.

Btw, It's funny to notice that the journalist mispelt his name in (1). Compare 'Lee Wei Chean' and "Lim Wei Chean'. Or are there two different persons? =)

Anonymous said...

its not just the IR resorts employing more filippinos. if you notice, there is a rise in no of filippinos employed in the service sector in watson, guardian pharmacy, etc. it could be that its cheaper to do so. or else sporeans dont want to do the job? i have no idea. but basically, the message is with a globalised market like ours, its very easy for labour to move around, which means salaries can get very competitive.. and this increased competition wont go away.. what can we do? i guess either we shape up or we ship out (meaning leave spore) i am not sure if i have the option too. basically, it feels helpless but we cant wait for gahmen.. cos their jobs are secure. they are not facing global competition like the man in the street do.~ Mint

Anonymous said...

In the mid 80's LKY repeatedly asserted that Singapore cannot be a nation because of lack of such fundamentals like shared culture and religion. He quoted an American author extensively - which was published in the ST in font size so large I thought it was ridiculous - to back up his belief.

And from that time onwards, PAP may have totally requestioned its traditional role as a government that looks after the people.

Policies - from those on manpower, to public housing, to healthcare and even to economic (e.g. resettle all kampongs and islands like Pulau Ubin and sell it at Raffles Place price) and lifestyle (e.g. basic concrete housing with little nature) planning - are now all reflecting a mindset that seeks monopolistic control and extracting the most from people and businesses.

Since according to LKY Singapore cannot be a nation, it cannot rightly be owned by the people. That being the case, someone else has to own it.

That someone is the PAP power structure has now monopolizes totally or nearly all major industries, alone or in collusion with other conglomerates - from public transport, housing, healthcare, supermarkets, commercial properties like shopping centres, just to name a few that I can think of now.

At one time PAP even attempted blatantly to consolidate the major local banks like OUB but UOB managed to pull it off in a buyout with a price tag so high that DBS had to shut up.

At the same time, PAP will cripple the electoral process such that PAP can actually determine the outcome such as by forcing more and more voters out of this country, and that only the successful and hence likely to support the system will remain.

As for the old and needy, why there is JB nursing homes to go to, as recommended by Khaw. Euthanasia once passed would also be very helpful seriously.

Why suffer under a govt that does not care and why empty the Medisave savings of your family members when you fall badly sick?

The storm clouds are already over our heads.

As a middle-aged friend who had been in recruitment firm and had since moved out of Singapore for employment said to me: "Many applicants for jobs especially from the young generation still do not realize the straits they are in."

Onlooker said...

Whatever happen to Cebu and Genting Highland?
Consp_theory ranting:-
BTW in case no one realized yet casino is used in a lot of countr(yes korea too) to launder money.
So it can be consider a piggy bank for corrupted officials to reward their ka kia.
Hypothetically :- Let say A crooked civilized Servant in the imaginary land of the Domestic helper decided to dispense some kopi money to his/her ka kia.
They will arrange it in such a way that the ka kia win a lot of money in said Cash in O.
A lot of Pinoy police Officer can afford Bungalow with their meagre pay because they won a lot in Cash in O leh.......
Sure hope it does not necessarily happen here.
That is also why the $100 entry fee.
But I hope they have a buffet line though.

shame said...

With the Internet, such shameless shenanigans by the state media will no longer go unnoticed.

Anonymous said...

"LKY repeatedly asserted that Singapore cannot be a nation because of lack of such fundamentals like shared culture and religion."--Anon 12:16pm

Just wondering where did you get this? From what I remembered, he said that Singapore is NOT YET a nation because of a few missing criteria. We can be a nation but just not yet, according to the definition of an academic. Well, according to this defn, very very few countries can be considered to be nations.

Side note:I find people declaring the arrival of doomsday for Singapore to be pretty irritating. Yes, we ("young generation") might not realise the deep shit that we are in. But we are probably more resilient than you think. So thank you very much for your concern.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the headline, whatever the content, whatever the internet or even kopitiam comment, however bad GDP is, however many Filipinos in service jobs and whatever pay, doesn't really matter.

What really matters is 50% walkovers, 66% mandate and 98% seats for PAP at every election. And the streets are peaceful.

chengguan said...

Recently, I was pleasantly surprised that Singapore's water technologies, giant farm on rooftop of HDB idea and so on are catching the global attention. Yet they doesn't seem to arouse the government's attention (unlike the IR's project). Kinda disappointed...

Jimmy Mun said...

From early on, when the gahmen started talking about the jobs generated by the IR, and how bulk of the jobs will go to Singaporeans, I already knew this is a cheque that will definitely bounce.

Anybody who had gone sailing with Star Cruises will know that you cannot even find a single non-filipino working on their ships, so why should the IR be any different?

The million dollar ministers and civil servants can chase the new flavour of the day on a whim, but the workforce will take a lot more time to train. Like every hot new thing Singapore chose to chase, from semiconductors to life sciences, to gaming, by the time the workforce is trained and ready, all the jobs are filled by foreigners and fresh grads are asked to be retrained again.

Would it make any financial sense to train Singaporeans when seasoned foreigners are ready for work from Day 1?

The million dollar ministers had lost the plot a long time ago and their "grand vision" these days are nothing more than patchwork. By flooding Singapore with foreigners, the gahmen is sacrificing young singaporeans to stay in power for a few more years, to maximise their millions.

By the time Singaporeans realise what is going on, these guys would have quit Singapore and enjoying their lives far far away. After all, the old man said these guys will join Lehman if we dont pay them millions. Why should anybody expect the outcome for Singapore to be any different from Lehman?

Anonymous said...

Hi Chengguan

This is a typical example of an "agency" issue i.e. the management is at odds with the stakeholders...

Here we know that their renumerations are linked to "performance" and of course, the "size" of their projects...think IRs and F1s

Where got time for the other small and "insignificant" projects?

Anonymous said...

morale of the story? we better migrate!

Anonymous said...

The IR spokesman Robin Goh was quoted as saying (to support his point that bulk of jobs will go to Singaporeans) that out of the 500 currently employed by the IR, 80% are Singaporeans AND RESIDENTS. So their definition of Singaporeans include "residents". Therefore there is no contradiction between the IR's position and that of Arroyyo if all the Fillipinos who work in the IR become "residents"

Anonymous said...

Okay here is a scoop from someone (my relative, a Singaporean) who works in Resort World in a management position. Though no figures are given, it is indeed true that at the moment Resort World anticipates up to half the jobs, at least, to be taken up by foreign nationals. (note PR would count as foreign nationals)

Anonymous said...

Well, to be fair, which Singaporean is willing to sing and dance for $1000 a month at a job that requires rotating shift, overtime etc etc.

Heck, I think the average Filipino's english is better than the average Singaporean.

Anonymous said...

Traditional newspaper practice is that the headline is the responsibility of the copy editor, never the reporter as conventionally it had to fit the final print size of the article - even in today's digital media emphasis this approach has not changed so it has made article titles less constrained.

Of course, SPH works in its own special way, and it could be the journalist who's decided to keep changing the title.

Anonymous said...

i am not sure if the pay is really so low as S$1000. i doubt so actually.... i believe its prob higher.. (saw a documentary before where it was reported that the women welders in philippines can earn up to uS2500 a mth overseas. but i am not sure about the singers)

jeffyen said...

Hi Mr Wang, the headline has changed yet again! (Or maybe it's an earlier version)

I'm using ST Reader, a standalone software for reading the ST. The headline I'm seeing is

"Uproar over reports of IR jobs going to foreigners"

Anonymous said...

quote chengguan

Recently, I was pleasantly surprised that Singapore's water technologies, giant farm on rooftop of HDB idea and so on are catching the global attention. Yet they doesn't seem to arouse the government's attention (unlike the IR's project). Kinda disappointed...

actually, the government is selling these ideas to other cities, like the tianjin eco-city. In fact, all our government linked companies are selling these ideas to various countries including south america.

Anonymous said...

not happy with PAP, go create an opposition party or join existing one.

not happy with casino hiring practices, go open your own casino and hire all locals.

not happy with MacDonalds, I also need to go Burger King to flip burgers, right?

Anonymous said...

To Alan, i understand that if u were a casino employee, there would be conflict of interest and hence the clause to prohibit playing in Genting casinos. but if you were an employee from say the amusement park side, is this clause still gng to be in the contract?

Anonymous said...

I too have observed rising no. of Filipino working for Watson, Guardian Pharmacy, Starbucks and various retail chains.

I am wondering how could those jobs support their living expenses here, and how could they manage? How did those jobs land up in foreign hands?

I always thought that these jobs, no doubt pay little, would best be reserved for senior elders where it can at least give them a mean of making a living till 60 over, or that some youth whom didnt excel well in our mainstream schooling system opportunities to keep themselves gainfully employed.

It is a really demoralizing situation as I too may grow old one day, and still aspire to work with these firms.

Call me conservative, as I dont really support the ideas of having Casinos in Singapore when the idea was first mooted. Along with what was being forced through the gate, was also a promise of jobs that will be created for the people : I will call selling the country a dream. A dream indeed.

So disheartening.

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 10:55am,

I think Lee Wei Chean and Lim Wei Chean are 2 different persons. If you realize, I think Lee Wei Chean started writing articles with ST later than Lim did.

Anonymous said...

As someone who's been headhunted and who's been on the rubbish heap before, I'm not sure whether it is only the government with the attitude problem. During the good times ... why don't you come back to help Singapore to develop xxx ... coming from the mouth of assistants of Minister X who met me overseas. During the bad times ... while we admire your capability and tenacity , the government cannot be responsible for ... or something to that effect during correspondence with assistant of another bigshot Minister y.

And consider the collection of comments I've collected throughout the years in the workplace ...

You're overqualified, underqualified, above 30 (over-aged), not safe to hire (because I was ill before?), just not right ....

Friend asked me, are you too picky, did you apply to Singapore government, must you work in sector z (which I've specialised in for years but willing to change), meanwhile, applications to government jobs mostly get no response, not even a phonecall ... ditto for friend with 1st class, PhD and always get nothing but perfect grades, but non-scholar (and we thought the government loved good grades?!? and my grades had their ups and downs)

Emails to fellow Singaporeans get ignored if you try to plead for a meeting on only citizenship grounds, but I've gotten better response from our brethren in Malaysia and other Asian countries ... they would at least grant me a hearing. And my friends overseas always believe in returning to their home countries if things get bad ...

Met with well-connected Singaporean corporate bigwig ... and he tells me that I am better off starting my own business otherwise .... that was friendly advice from a family friend ...

Not sure what's going on ... but yes, I'll plot to start my own business, plot to move everything overseas, and plot to live and die somewhere else ...

Anonymous said...

Thats my thoughts too.. it seem either we start our own biz, or else, when it comes to older age, we'd somehow be marginalised. Its a prejudice , which doesnt apply to politicians. Some of the politicians are so old yet still very busy working. But in corporations, you dont get that kind of priviledge. Basically once over 40 , chance of been ousted is very high.. Why are the corporations practising such ageism? Hope it will change soon..

Albert Tang said...

I think the scoop mentioned by Anonymous is not true. The two IRs have already reiterated on many occasions that most jobs in their resorts would go to the local Singaporeans – something which the Singapore government is fully aware of. They wouldn’t be changing this commitment made that simply, right? Anyway, I think employment figures can be sensitive information to certain companies. They will have strict procedures in place to prevent employees from disclosing sensitive corporate information.

Anonymous said...

It's all about costs at the end of the day lah...average Singaporean expects starting salary of $3,000; Filipino dude with same qualifications and experience goes for $1,500.

2 for the "price" of 1: good deal, no?

You need to understand how HR plays the game.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for a big ass show of disapproval (Since I can't boycott the IR because it hasn't been built yet.) Who's organising? When and what colour of clothing to wear? I will be dressed for it.

Anonymous said...

We have been brainwashed by all the hogwash about building a nation. Treat Singapore as a place where you plunder and spend your riches elsewhere and the heartache all go away.

Anonymous said...

About the reports on RWS would be hiring more Filipinos to work in their IR, there's such a possible link to what Star Cruises (under the same Genting Group) trying to establish closer connection with the Philippines gov., through what we see as a scheme of trade off. (That is to provide more jobs for Filipinos here).
Star Cruises is investing in casino-resort in Philippines.

The said...

/// I'm all for a big ass show of disapproval (Since I can't boycott the IR because it hasn't been built yet.) Who's organising? When and what colour of clothing to wear? I will be dressed for it.
April 15, 2009 12:20 PM ///

Anon @12:20PM,

Since you can literally and figuratively lose your pants in a casino, the most appropriate dressing is - nothing - just your birthday suit. So, will you be undressed for it?


Anonymous said...

To Anon April 14, 2009 12:16 PM,

You said that the government is "reflecting a mindset that seeks monopolistic control and extracting the most from people and businesses."

well, LKY did say that Singapore has only its people as its resources? What does one usually do with resources? Milk them for what they're worth right? ;-)

To Anon, Apr 14, 3.18pm,

you said we should all migrate.

Yup - those who can, will migrate. Then Singapore's left with those who cant, and with less skills. Then the government has to go out and attract those who can and with skills, and dying to live in the Switzerland of the East.

The problem just gets worse. More Singaporeans gets left behind.

If the resorts needed talent that can sing, dance, perform - we're likely to lag behind. Because we didnt focus the fine arts.

Compare this boo-booh with the biotech planning - we set up university courses to prepare for this industry. We built the infrastructure, we laid the legislations. BUT it didnt work out.

We wanted casinos, but we were not prepared for it. Hiring foreigners are quick solutions. Cheap talents, while they can rake in the money as quickly as possible.

Jimmy Mun said...

"The Dude", you obviously dont know many Filipinos. $1k pay means WP, means quota limits. Many places that hire Filipinos, hire 100% Filipinos, ie not subject to quota limits, so we are talking minimum $2k or more. The Filipinos are competing head on with tertiary grads in Singapore, and winning not necessarily because of price.

To add insult to injury, many Filipinos working here are in customer service or IT which doesnt really require specialised skillsets that Singaporeans do not possess.

Were they hired when Singapore labour market was tight? One company I work with had their entire gruntforce either Indian or Filipino. When an Indian leaves, another Indian will fill the job. When a Filipino leaves, another Filipino will fill the job. And the jobs were never advertised locally. I'm talking last month here, not last year. If you think the gahmen had closed the floodgates, think again. BTW, this is a Fortune 50 FSI, not some cheapskate factory.

Curiously, the middle management are all middle aged Singaporeans.

Hiring foreigners has become a habit for Singaporeans in middle management, and the gahmen is aiding and abetting this behaviour to keep these Baby Boomers happy.

And the foreigners know how to take care of their own nationals, while Singaporeans only know how to despise Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

Employment for the IR remains a very sensitive issue, for Singaporeans. Especially during this few years of bad economy. For the reason of maintaining low-cost operations, IR operators would incline to hire foreigners with lesser expectation on wages. And, also, it is easier to make quick change to manpower manning (or lay offs) with foreigner work force than it is with locals which will not be well accepted in the host country.
And casino industry is such that hire & fire is very volatile (a common thing).
Just look at Macau and Las Vegas.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are right, lots of readers are always fooled by our gahment controlled press so much so that every GE the majority continue to vote them in! When will they really pry open their eyes and see for themselves what Spore has turned to: an Abu Dubai in South East Asia that is what it is! In no time, mind you, time flies fast, Spore citizen population will dwindle to about 50% or less and prehaps even to about 20% same as with Abu Dubai. The continuous no holds barred, no questions asked, no tests needed for PR entrants & employment pass holders is never ending.

Anyway, Resort World is a Malaysian owned company that has no obligation to hire Sporeans, it does what it likes as they are still finacially sound compared to Las Vegas Sands Casino. In the case of Sands Casino, they are handcuffed by Spore gahment as they have extended their hands to them to help them in some way so they have an obligation to fulfill, albeit only a small one.

Anonymous said...

It is hoped that IR investors/operators understand the importance of establishing good relation with local population and think long-term; instead of just focus on R.O.I.
Gaining local community support is key success factor for any casinos.

Onlooker said...

I agree with Jimmy Mun.
Singaporean baby boomers are more interested in employing Foreign labour.Which is bad for the company productivity but it does make them "SEEM" like they are maintaining order.
Pinoy are more united because their homeland's official is openly corrupted.Need I mention Imelda and her husband Ferdinand Marcos.
And another thing I can confirmed is their pay range are in the $2000++ zone and they love to work in non specialized area because they education system does not equip them with enough resource to learn the necessary stuff required.
Some does not even have real qualification, Their diplomas/degree can be bought off the street.
What happen to Philippines?
That country used to show such potential until Corrupted elites start buying votes......
Deja Vu?
Please don't make my home country a second Philippines Where there are "NO?" corruption.
But if there is no corruption, why are they even here? Why leave?

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Anonymous said...

I posted this on another thread; but I guess it's worth posting it here too.

I've been reading about the topic of IR jobs apparently going to Filipinos until I stumble upon this thread. Good thing the opinions stated here are rather intelligent and stays on the topic (and not the racist or dumbfounded rhetoric trashing the other forums). Anyway, I hope I can give my five cents on this. Disclosure first: I'm Filipino and as a grateful "foreign talent," I should not be interfering with the politics of my host country. I hope I don't get deported--big brother--I am paying for my brother's internship in Europe.

What struck me most when I move in Singapore are very old people, grandparents (who I suppose are locals), doing really exhausting ordinary jobs (I don't want to call it "menial" because I believe there is honor in every job) like cleaning mess in food court and sweeping the floor in underpass (I would always greet the uncle in the underpass near the park fronting the President's official residence, and he would always reply with a hearty laugh). There were times that my girlfriend and I would look at each other in disbelief as we feel genuine pity (I don't want to sound condescending) to this auntie who is obviously suffering from osteoporosis but tries her best to clean up the mess from one table to another (we always clean our tables after; I never really understood why a lot of people here leave their mess after a meal--like they have servants to pick it up; I mean I know a lot of wealthy friends back home who have throngs of maids in their households, but they never really treated their maids like servants; I mean the idea of having maid is to flaunt wealth and what better way to flaunt “class” than a battalion of happy maids).

Whenever I go home and I would be asked how it is in Singapore, I always tell them that we -- at least those who have decent houses and regular jobs (there's a lot of destitution in Philippine urban areas as you probably learn from your local media) -- are still lucky as I've seen how old people have to work so hard here to make subsistent living (I've lived in the government projects far from town before, and I could say it's really depressing; there you’ll see the real ordinary Singaporean). Don’t get me wrong: my point is, these people, as citizens of a wealthy country (your per capita income is actually higher than Spain), actually live worst than the middle class back home. I just thought they deserve a little better (like more social welfare, especially at the twilight of their lives; but then again I'm a hard-core socialist, so my opinion is innately biased). But then again, I'm not really aware on the policy of the Singaporean government, and maybe my observation is actually skewed. And as I said above, I should not really be interfering with the business of the hands that feed me. To be honest, I feel guilty when I'm "feeling a little lazy at work" and seeing uncle trying her best to clean up the whole floor at his age is sure ball way to elicit guilt.

On many occasions, feeling reflective while on the bus to and from work, I would compare the Philippines and Singapore, and have embraced the opinion that the Philippine society – in spite of the vast inequality and what you sorely describe as democrazy – is still more mature and progressive than yours and would stood more stable if the same stress is subjected to both societies (you can believe otherwise; I don’t want to go to a debate on that), because consensus emanates from the individual rather than with the direction from the government (although I admire LKY and your government for the strategic thinking, tenacity, and acute pragmatism—which unfortunately my leaders were not born with or chose not to have). What troubles me with the Singaporean society is that you are starting to have on one side these Elite establishments (I don’t want to use the word “elitist”) who are at par with the rich of first world countries, and on the other side, a gulf of Masses who, frankly, are just as relatively poor as the middle class in the developing world. Up to now, I still don’t want to believe my Filipino colleague when he said that the average income for an average Singaporean family is about 4-5K per month (heck, I still complain of the middle class lifestyle that my low six-digit pay could afford considering I’m already 29). I mean for a country as wealthy as Singapore, I thought income should be at par with other industrial countries. But then again maybe because a great part of your income actually goes to savings, which is not really a bad thing.

I pointed the wealth divide because this is exactly what brought our society down. In the early 20th century, we have government scholars, feudal landlords, and the well entrenched, basically elites, like what you have now, but became out of touch with the sentiments of the masses. I’m not saying your leaders are doing a bad job; in fact, I’m inclined to believe otherwise; but I have seen some anecdotes on how business owners (I don’t want to use the word capitalists) treat labor – at least the ordinary kind -- like it’s just another commodity. This brings me back to the topic of “young Filipino workers doing service work.” I have encountered in several occasions how “trainees” from the Philippines work in a famous grocery chain and furniture shops with pittance pay (600-700SGD) 12 hours a day, six days a week. These are basically students who were recruited to do “internship” thinking that it was just another five-month gig such as what they have back home, but will give them an international experience (it’s in our blood to go out of the country and see the world if the opportunity arises; sadly for some, it’s more of a “have to” rather than a “why not?”). I mean these are big businesses who could very well afford to pay locals or pay decent salaries to foreigners if locals shun such jobs, but else, chose to exploit foreign youths, in what is thinly disguised as “internship.” So what I’m saying is that rather than blaming foreigners, I think you should dig deeper and confront the real issue.

I believe that if you want the survival of this great nation of yours (I really think you are really a hardworking bunch), you should maintain an effective leadership, harness your talents, and continue to strive for competent and more humane society that respects a balance between capitalism and socialism. It would be great, though, if that collective desire would transcend from the masses (but then again that’s already interfering to your business; and I’m quite sure this is also what your government is striving for). I think you should encourage more public debate, but just make sure you do it the right way (trust us; we’ve been so over with that). And while we're at it, it worthwhile to know that a little humility also helps in winning friends.

And, seriously, don't believe everything that Mrs Arroyo claims; she's not exactly the epitome of honesty (I'm allowed to criticize my leader, afterall, she wasted my vote).

Okay, I’m feeling sleepy now.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wong,

Pl do make it a point that PAP does define Singaporeans as FOREIGNERS,the beautiful P.R. that is,are they not foreigners.

Classical trick of MM Lee!Unfortunately he has passed this on to his younger ministers who are now masters of da art!

Anonymous said...

kevintan73:Heck, I think the average Filipino's english is better than the average Singaporean.Speak for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Like what the rednecks at the town of South Park would say,


Anonymous said...

The question to ask is, where is the money (aka HR savings for hiring cheaper foreigners) which would have paid Singaporeans, gone to?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:44 AM all that you have said so eloquently are true and I believe many here already know.

The problem is that despite all the whining, there is still no solution primarily because PAP has controlled public dissent from reaching a critical mass - public debate and protest, opposition parties, mass media ... except only the blogsphere where the old dictator admitted he got no choice, haha.

Anyone who still do not want to be robbed of his birthright as a citizen of this country must fight the PAP and there is only ONE CHANNEL now, the Internet.

And do not be lured into creating pointless blog associations and that kind of thing. It is how PAP will take control of bloggers indirectly when it cannot do so directly for fear of being condemned by other countries.

All trade unions in the 60's were under the complete control of the Chinese-educated opposition parties but changed hands almost overnight through PAP arresting the oppostion leaders and illegalising the trade unions unless they became part of NTUC, a PAP-created umbrella body.

PAP was able to do this because PAP knew who the leaders were and the trade unions were open associations with known leaders.

Now you see the point I am trying to make. Like one intelligent writer on WayangParty.com advised : "Keep it in the air".

Here anyone worth his salt should come here to inform, to clarify issues so that more and more people know the direction this nation is taking, know that if they still continue to support PAP, Singaporeans will eventually become worse off than foreigners living here. We will be forced and in fact are being forced out of this so-called "first world" country by the policy of one man with the support of his fat-cat sycophants.

Living on borrowed time said...

Years ago i used to be working in a foreign land.
i was happy getting 1/3(in US$ and almost twice back home when converting to S$) of the local wages. most FTs shared lodgings to save cost. cooked all the time and no eating out. alone with no family, there was nothing much to do except work. working 10-12hrs a day. boss liked us. once i worked for more than 100 days straight without a break and got my boss worried that he forced me to take a vacation. locals were wary of us. eventually the regulations prohibit the hiring of FT unless it was not possible to find a local suitable for the job.

Anonymous said...

Besides reasons that were mentioned by many, the uproar could be 'translated' that the move towards hiring more foreigners (in particular from the Philippines if it is true?)for the IR jobs - Is to maintain a very 'flexible' staffing structure & ratio in that, should the IR's revenue is much lower than expected, its operator can take quick adjustment to cut manpower costs (lay-offs) without an issue at all with the large pool of foreigners per se as compared to a tougher action on immediate firing of locals. This seems to be a good hedge (experience level & manning flexibility) for their manpower planning of opening phase, for the IR to assess whether is able to meet the projected EBITDA margins through various revenue streams (casino & non-gaming).

Bryan said...

After looking at all the discussions, I kinda agree with AlbertTang. It is really pointless to speculate now on the number of foreigners to be employed at the IRs. Let's wait till when they open and the end result will be clear for all to see whether a majority of them working in these IRs are Singaporeans. We need to examine what President Arroyo said. If they have 10,000 jobs, how can 5,000 go to Filipinos? I have a close friend working in Resorts World, and they are indeed hiring many Singaporeans. Apparently, they have even turned foreigners away at a recent CDC job fair!

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:47, based on your argument then the even better way would in fact not to employ any Singaporeans at all since it would not give rise to any future difficulty to an IR company.

May be that's exactly what MOM is also thinking lah. More such thinking would surely be welcomed by PAP.

Anonymous said...

Jobs For Foreigners?
- Views from An Expert Singaporean In Casino-resort Industry

I read the ST news article published on 14th Apr 2009 (Page B2) that writes about apparent fear of Singaporeans losing out job opportunities in the IRs.

From my experience (at senior management level) in the opening of international casino-resorts in the largest gaming hub in Asia, I would like to share some thoughts with people who are concerned with job opportunities in the current economic downturn and for Singaporeans who aspire to ‘bet’ their career with the IRs.

To be rather simple in nature, I would identify a few key points in relation to the news article that speak about Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) hiring of Filipinos (in big quantity as reported) for discussion as follow:

(1) Why Filipinos? As we are aware, there is large population of Filipinos working overseas in many sectors, including but not limited to hospitality, gaming, health care, IT, financial sectors etc. They are very adaptable in different environments (including wages, though there is a minimum wage standard imposed by the Philippines authority) and speak English. Therefore, Filipinos are not new to working in casinos all over the world. In newly opened casinos especially, it is prudent to have adequate number of dealers and supervisor with experience on the floor. This is to ensure the casino floor is operated with sufficient level of efficiency and also, for risk management purposes (prevent cheats, etc.)
The question is, can Singaporean fresh dealer trainees be trained within a reasonable timeframe and be proficient on the job? The answer is yes.
Singaporeans are not inferior to other Asian populations, and if Macau could adopt the practice of All casino dealers must be hired from the local population, then Singapore IR can survive with that too. But to be objective, at least 2/3 of dealers can be Singaporeans for a start. Unless Singaporeans do not prefer to take on the job as dealers (due to whatever reasons), then a higher ratio of foreigners is justifiable. Such policy has to be transparent so that people out there would not speculate and generate unnecessary ill-feelings.
Same logic should also be applied for theme park and other service elements in the IRs. While the operators of the IRs need to maintain a level of experience/competence in each area of their staffing, so that quality service and standard of operations are achievable. On the other hand, Singaporeans should be given fair chance to be evaluated in all aspects of IR including non-gaming facilities. I am very confident that most Singaporeans will meet requirements and many of them can be trained to perform proficiently. Therefore, well-developed training regime is a must.

(2) Cost Structure. We don’t have to debate over the EBITDA margins that the IR operators need to produce in order to be sustainable after opening. Bearing in mind the high capital expenses/costs (& loans) for the investment, the IR operators need to consciously maintain a viable cost (and I presume low cost) structure throughout their pre-opening to the post-opening business operations. Therefore, Singaporeans should focus on the job/career opportunities first and not too fussy over a big & comfortable remuneration at this point in time. The golden days of “If you build it, they will come” scenario might not happen anymore. When the IR operators fail to maintain a ‘sustainable’ staff cost structure from hiring of qualified local population, they will turn to foreigners who are willing to adjust and adapt. So, Singaporeans must not provide the “push” factor to the situation.

(3) Responsibility of IR Operators. One of the key responsibilities of the IR operators should be to establish human resource plans that encourage the promotion and upgrading of locals knowledge and skills on the job; to create an environment that rewards performance and competence. In some cases such HR policy remains a lip service. Macau government has therefore put in place a policy to ensure that casino operators consciously identify able local staff to be promoted in due course and statistics are sent to the authority. Hiring of foreigners therefore would be ‘balanced off’ based on whether the operator has put in effort to groom locals (as well as other relevant factors involved).

(4) Prevent The Fallouts. The Singapore IR initiative took a very deliberate process of public debates and is an integral part of developing Singapore’s new tourism landscape, amidst highly competitive regional tourism backdrop with Taiwan, Vietnam, India and Guangdong etc. moving into the same game. Therefore, the IR’s long-term sustainability is not just based on new hardware development and financial means. The IR needs to be a complementing factor to the travel trades & transportation industries, fuels the human resource development landscape in order to maintain an overall high level of excellent service quality. And time is not in our hand when others are also preparing for the fight of tourism market shares.
As we go down this path with a bold stroke, we also need to think beyond just the $100 levy & the hard rules in perspective but how we could operate a crown-jewel of tourism attractions and yet sustained by high standards of services – with a right mix of local and foreign talent pool.
It is hoped that the IR operators NOT to opt for the strategy of fast and easy way just to open up casinos and hotel rooms in quick time, try solely to make money from casino operation coupled with lowest-cost possible labour force (supported by large quantity of foreign workers). If that happens, then we can understand why many prospective, qualified and aspiring (of them many are trainable) Singaporeans will be disappointed and, start to question about the objectives of going ahead to build casino-inclusive IRs.

It is hoped that IR operators would refrain from being short-sightedness and they should take the opportunity to help elevate the fear of Singaporeans in which that the IR only hire locals for drivers, cleaning ladies, tea-ladies, waiter/waitress and other basic service jobs; they must convince Singaporeans through clear & positive action but not just sounding out repeated PR words. Community support and good relations with locals remain key success factors especially for casino-resorts to sustain and grow in new markets. Social harmony must be observed in such cases, be it in Macau, Las Vegas and other parts of the world. I wish the IR a great success.

By: --
(A Singaporean specialist consultant in casino/gaming and Advisor to Macau’s Travel Industry)

Anonymous said...

It's very balanced & enlightening view that put things in perspective.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing to read about many different view points contributed by blogers on this IR Jobs saga.
What I would think, it that Singaporeans will gradually learn to accept changes coming along and continue to seek a better future. For some, there's still dreams to pursue... but some will remain frustrated.
On the other hand, more needs to be done by the gahmen to understand people's issues (& fear) and to solve more hard problems for the majority in the society.
The IR should not become a sore point and detractor in building a harmonized society. Therefore, focused and proactive control are still required by the authorities to ensure it does not become solely commercial decisions for everything the IR does. Singapore pays a relatively high social price (on IR) in exchange for what we called economic returns. Therefore, national's long-term goals for IR must be born in mind at all times.

Anonymous said...

i think the fear sporeans have is that even if they train and upgrade themselves, they still lose out to foreign workers, because of cost..

this is a real fear, which is reflective of a globalised society, and is not limited to spore alone.

Jimmy Mun said...

Of course Singapore has to accept the brutal reality the IR is presenting to naive Singaporeans.

The IR is a microcosm of the service industry in Singapore, a standard format of what is going on everywhere, with Caucasians on the top, Singaporeans in the middle, foreigners doing the jobs that pays over $2k and the old and/or uneducated Singaporeans serving as receptionists, cleaners, tea ladies, chambermaids, delivery men, drivers, security guards, temps etc.

For the Singaporeans in middle management, the savings from hiring foreigners translate to fabulous cost savings that will result in high salaries. Of course they embrace the "foreign talents" and vote solidly for PAP... until they fall off the bandwagon and need to look for jobs themselves.

Thanks to the financial crisis and regional competition, the very viability of the IRs are in question. They cant afford the time and money to train Singaporeans, beyond the very basic wayang going on now.

And thanks to "expert"'s reminder, we have a boneheaded $100 levy for Singaporeans. Why hire Singaporeans if bulk of the guests will not be Singaporeans? From Genting to Batam, from Star Cruises to NTUC Resorts, no Singaporean is more than a short journey away from a fully legalised gambling den, to speak nothing of the illegal ones. Only the foolish will think that $100 or any other form of restriction is going to stop the gamblers from getting their fix. Instead, we are just destroying job opportunities for Singaporean.

Anonymous said...

Haha. Yet another great entry.

I particularly loved the way you dissected the 'journalist' on his not being able to substantiate the title...

Anonymous said...

Jimmy, maybe U r right. Many oredi suspect that the current PR campaigns by the IR are just like U mentioned - Wayang at best.
Thats why the "expert" mentioned that the IR should show real action to convince Sporeans...

Anonymous said...

I like the Anony (Adviser ...) 16/04 4:40 on the Why Filipinos? The argument is quite well based.

Anonymous said...

I think the most critical factor for the IR, would be its expected revenue that can be generated by tourism traffic. I notice that Spore IR cannot be compared head to toe with Macau's advantages. What happen if the IR adopts aggressive direct marketing tactics target locals? When the going gets tough.
Also notice that the casino expert/adviser says about cost structure will affect the whole equation. I tend to agree with the observation.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, do you mind commenting on the case of this Sin Min editor who got off so likely from killing somebody? I read that she was talking on the phone at the point of causing the fatal accident?

The judge said that it was to be a "one-off" sentence, and not to be used as a precedent.

This seems to bear out what Anandas said about "one rule for elites, one for peasants".


Anonymous said...

What's new about this? Remember that tussle in the media over the % new jobs that went to Singaporeans? It should not be surprising at all that this would happen.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I agree to a large extent that whether majority of IR jobs will to Singaporeans or foreigners (i.e. Philippines, Malaysia, India, mainlan Chinese etc.) will depend on the IR operators' COST STRUCTURE and OUTCOME OF mainstream casino revenue. I foresee that in the next 3 years (run-in period) main bulk of IR jobs will go to foreigners. Hope that I will be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Anony 10:33 April 21. I happened to read some interesting articles on integrated resorts of Spore and also, Macau casinos, apparently written by insiders and expert in the industry,
Not bad... the site is, www.expertir.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I made a check on the site.... is called "Welcome To professional Ground".
Good recommendation.
The subject on VIP Baccarat and its equation appeared to be quite in depth though, but very logical reflection of this is a high-risk business even for casinos lor.

Anonymous said...

For the service industry, alot depends on the consumers. If people decide to tighten their belts, retailers will not have much business. And then, shops will close down & staffs will be retrench. To be frank, this is the reason why as a Singaporean I do not wish to join this industry unless I no longer have a choice.