8/27/2006

foreign talents, balancing perks and privileges

The policy for foreign talent is as good as being cast in stone. Not that it is a bad policy per se. People are disagreeing with how it is being done, how far it is being carried out and undermining the interest or privileges of Singaporeans. I would just try to discuss on two points. Cost of living and privileges of being citizens versus PRs and the rest. The two points are interrelated and may overlap in many areas. While we welcome the new citizens with more attractive perks, and as their number grows and become a significant factor in all our activities, it may be opportune to factor in the difference between being citizens and PRs to favour citizens. Essential services like education, medical, transportations can be fine tuned to a point where citizens pay lesser than PRs. The difference may not be too big to become a disincentives but enough to make citizenship more respectable, valuable and attractive. As an example, the cost to PRs and the rest could be 10 or 20% higher than a citizen. If becoming a citizen marks the end of the honeymoon or romance as in a marriage, when the sweetness and fairy tale of courtship are transformed into more responsibilites, it becomes questionable for logical and rational people to want to become citizens. Being PRs is that much more interesting and attractive. Or like living together and having all the funs and not getting hitch and share the chores. The privileges of citizenship with respect to housing subsidies, taxation, even preference for employment in the govt sector can be modify to make citizenship a more desirable status than just being PRs. And when all the privileges of citizenship are cumulated, and found to be worth the while to compensate for the responsibilities and liabilities to serve national service, a life long commitment and sacrifice, taking up citizenship may make more sense for the PRS and at the same time sooth the people's anger.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

This policy of massive intake of FTs is badly thought out.

Assume, for discussion sake, that we are short of 10000 and our brilliant government bring in 10000 FTs to plug the gap and viola, problem solved! But is the problem really that simple and easily solved?

Assume the shortage of 10000 is from 0-4 age group. Now our government bring in large nos of FTs who are in their 20s to 40s to "contribute" to our economy. For simplicity and discussion sake, assume the government bring in 10000 FTs and they are from 30-34 age group. This is where the problem lies...

The shortage is from 0-4 age group and NOT 30-34 age group. By adding 10000 to the 30-34 age group, our shortage is now 20000 in the 0-4 age group. Yes, the shortage is now 20000 instead of 10000 in the 0-4 age group. Taking in large nos of adult immigrants will AGGRAVATE and ACCELERATE our greying population. Once we start doing that, we are caught in a vicious cycle whereby the shortage will get LARGER every year unless we address the real problem...shortage of baby and replacement in the SAME age group.

Our birthrate may be low but by taking in large nos of adult immigrants actually COMPOUNDED our greying problem instead of alleviating it. Now you know why we are "aging" faster than we should...no thanks to the government and its hair-brained policy.

Peter said...

Dear redbean. I am a PR from Malaysia. Let me tell you that even the prospect of having to pay 20% more for my children's schooling and family's healthcare services will 'entice' me to become a citizen. Singapore provides a very good environment to make money but it is not really a very conducive place to live in. I am enduring it for the moment simply because of that potential. I reckon in 5 years time, I will have accumulated enough in savings and CPF to allow me to setup a small business in my hometown and go into semi-retirement. I definitely cannot do that if I were to give up my Malaysian citizenship and live out the rest of my days here. Try coming up with a better suggestion :)

Peter said...

Sorry, I meant even the prospect of paying another 20% will NOT entice me to become a Singapore citizen but I guess you'd probably figure it out anyway. :)

redbean said...

hi peter,

welcome to the blog. if i were in your position, i will do exactly the same. the malaysian prs are having the best of both worlds. no complains if i am a malaysian prs. and yes, saving enough to retire back home. and the exchange rate plus higher pay will make this option that more attractive.

my suggestion of a little more for the non citizens is not to drive them away or make life difficult for them. it is go give recognition and value to citizenship. if citizens are not having better terms, then why be citizens? worst, for prs, to become citizens is to opt for a worst off package. that is the problem with the proposal. asking prs who have the best of both worlds to surrender their options for something worst.

my position has always been better terms for citizens. i am not against foreign talents or prs. they compliment our economy. what i am against is the lousy deal that the citizens are getting.

Anonymous said...

redbean, no matter how much better the terms are for a citizen, I will still not be enticed. Not when doing that will entail $120K of my hard-earned CPF money being locked up for good. No, sirree. For those PRs ith the long term goal of retiring in our respective home countries, no amount of sweetener can make us complete the last mile.

redbean said...

hi anonymous,

understand your concern. taking shortcuts will have shortcut problems. we have this tendency for instant solution like our intstant trees and instant gardens. or if one wants an intant high, just pop in a few pills, like subutex.

the greying population is like the 25 years to bring up a child. it is a price to be paid.

redbean said...

for the malaysian prs, most will choose to remain status quo. for those who are from countries that they are desperate to get out, they will pay a leg or an arm to be here.

this is one thing which this broad policy ignore. there are those who would not be enticed even if there is an incentive or disincentive to take on red passport. there are those who would pay just to get our red passport.

under this new scheme we will not be getting those who would not want to change but giving away freely to those who would want to pay for it.

Peter said...

Well redbean, it is a moot point for me because Malaysia doesn't allow dual citizenship but I do know some of my Western expatriate friends who wouldn't mind becoming citizens if they did not have t give up their current nationalities. Perhaps, that's what the Singapore government needs to consider if it is truly serious in wanting to get the PRs to take that leap.

redbean said...

hi peter,

if the objective is to beef up the working population, there is no need for more citizens. just more prs and employment passes and wps.

but if they really want more ns men, then will double citizenship work? a double citizenship means they can drop one when the going is not to their likings.

Peter said...

Which is not that different from being PRs at the moment. The first generation PR-turned-naturalised citizens will not have to do NS anyway, so that point is irrelevant.

redbean said...

peter, as a pr, nobody expects him to do national service. neither would the children of prs. and no one is demanding them to do so.

only citizens are expected to do ns.

Dual said...

redbean, you're right so the question of whether a person is a dual citizen doesn't matter. As long as he is a Singapore citizen, he's expected to do NS. So, what is the problem with allowing dual citizenship ? And I do believe the children of PRs are required to do NS.

redbean said...

hi dual,

welcome to the blog. you are right to say that children of prs are required to do ns. and what is wrong with dual citizenship? academically there is nothing wrong. it is a decision to be made and accepted. countries have a choice to practise this or otherwise.

a slight difference is that dual citizenship provides an easy option to be out. i think the children of prs too have this option when they reached a certain age to take on our citizenship and do ns, or to opt out.

in the case of citizens, like the musician melvin tan, you cannot opt out. not doing ns when called upon is an offence.

redbean said...

the other problem, say a malaysian or indonesian holding dual citizenship, and if there is a conflict, now that will be tricky.

Anonymous said...

Neither Malaysia nor Indoensia allow dual citizenship, so your point is again irrelevant. Also, this notion that citizenship = loyalty is fallacious to begin with. I may be a Singaporean but if our American arse-licking govt were to contribute troops to join in say, a war to invade Iran, you can bet your last dollar I ain't going to be a part of that.

Dual said...

The govt can also specify which countries Singaporeans are permitted to also be a citizen of, like what India has done. India does not allow its citizens to also be citizens of Pakistan for obvious reasons.

Dual said...

On the contrary, you can opt out of NS. Just be sure to never again step foot into Singapore. It is only an offence under Singaporean laws. Those laws are not enforceable outside Singapore.

redbean said...

whether malaysia/indonesia allows dual citizenship is their problem. whether we allow it is our problem. it is like we choose death penalty for drug smuggling and others don't.

citizenship does not equal loyalty. that you are right. that is why we put our citizens behind bars for espionage for other countries.

and if our govt chooses to go to war, you, being a citizen has no choice but to go. unless you want to awol. so i will bet my last dollar that you will be there fighting.

Dual said...

Oh, you're so wrong, my friend. I have a choice not to go because I am not in the country. Let's see the govt try and force me to come back and fight their stuipid war :-)

Lexer said...

Dear redbean, do you know that some countries allow a former citizen to reclaim their citizenship even after they've renounced them. UK is one of them and I know a Briton of Asian heritage who renounced his British citizenship so that he can become a Singaporean, and 6 months later went back to the Home Office to reclaim his citizenship. He is now happily a dual citizen. Another one of my friends went to ICA to submit his application to renounce his citizneship, complete with the documentation proving that he has already become the citizen of another country. He had even entered Singapore using his foreign passport. the officer attending to him pushed the papers back to him and asked him to go back and reconsider. Till now, he is still holding on to his Singapore passport. I'm sure there are many Singaporeans overseas who are also holding dual citizenship on the quiet so it does make sense for the government to come clean on this once and for all.

redbean said...

hi lexer,

welcome to the chat.

to have dual citizenship or not is a matter of choice. both have their pros and cons. when boundaries are blurred or like you say, when people are having dual citizenships in the quiet, then it makes a nonsense of single citizenship in a way.

who knows, maybe eventually everyone will have multiple citizenships or we will all be citizens of the world.