The President of SMU commented that it was unsustainable and politically difficult for any govt to allow the free movement of workers across national border. The domestic political forces would not allow it to happen. But all these concerns have proven to be nothing to Singapore and Singapore has embraced free movement of human capital, we called in foreign talents, like fish in water. With the right political leadership and political will, nothing is an obstacle. The different education system, degrees and professional qualifications too were non issues. These have never been a problem to Singapore and it has more than 2 million foreigners in the island to prove that all is well.
Singapore’s successful formula is best seen in the broad and sweeping CECA agreement with India. This is the most important formula to prove that freedom of movement of talents can be done. Singapore simply accepts all the qualifications of all the Indian universities, all the differences in educational system and standards with no question asked. This is not about stupidity or administrative convenience, but about building trust and trusting the quality of India’s universities and human talents. When these differences are set aside, there is no more problems to talk about.
In Singapore’s experience, all the foreigners hired are genuine foreign talents. No one has complained about hiring duds or fakes. Even if they were fakes, as long as they can do the job, the piece of paper is irrelevant. There were one or two cases of mistakes but too little and too few to worry about. Only stupid employers will be hiring duds and fakes. Singapore’s employers are not stupid and therefore have no stupid problems.
Singapore should sell this wonderful CECA formula to the Asean countries, that this is the way to go forward. Forget about the differences, ignore the differences, don’t look at them, don’t bring them up, pretend that everything is fine and all will be fine. And Singapore can use its 2% economic growth as proof. By bringing in 2m foreigners, Singapore achieved a 2% growth. And to prove that Singapore truly believe in this formula, Singapore will raise its population to 10m, ie, bringing in another 5m foreigners which will translate to another 5% growth.
Singapore has done it, see how successful Singapore is? Have no fear about free movement of human capital. With the right political leadership and political will, all problems will become non problems.
CECA is the miracle formula that Singapore has signed with India that benefits both countries greatly, economically. And Singapore now has so many spare and talented Singaporean PMETs to export to Asean countries, armed with certificates with courtesies from the NTUC, trained for export, to work around the world. Singapore would not have the luxury of sharing these spare talents with Asean countries if we did not bring in the better foreign talents to replace these no skill set local talents, or obsolete talents.
Singapore can be the leading light in the free movement of human capital in Asean. We have been experimenting and enjoying a surge of productivity with so many foreign talents to choose from. There are so many waiting at the door for Singapore to pick and choose, attracted by the good working environment and very excellent pay package and a very strong Singapore dollar. Singaporeans are so appreciative of these foreign talents that many are giving credits to the foreigners for building Singapore to what it is today. With the AEC, Singapore will have no problem boosting its population to 10m and all the property prices will go up 100 fold.Singaporeans will all stand to gain, to rent out their expensive HDB flats and move out to live in Bintan, Batam and Johore. No need to work any more, except for the young doing two years of guard duties. The free movement of human capital with the implementation of AEC is the greatest thing that can happen for Singapore and Singaporeans.