Saturday, May 30, 2015

How Singaporeans can compete with foreigners for jobs

In recent years, there was a large influx of foreigners who have replaced Singaporeans for the middle management and technical jobs. Employers prefer the foreigners who are willing to accept lower salaries, are more "obedient", do not job hop and are not disrupted by reservist duties.

Singaporeans have complained about the loss of jobs to foreigners. In some companies, the displacement is quite noticeable.

The government has responded by cutting down the issuing of work passes to foreigners but this has not solved the problem. It is a complex issue and any approach will have negative consequences that need to be solved.

I wish to give a few suggestions about what Singaporeans should do to ensure that they can compete better for these jobs in Singapore.

1)  Be realistic about your expectation.  Singaporeans do expect high salaries, especially if they have obtained a degree at great expense of money and time. They also have to meet the high cost of living in Singapore. But employers pay according to productivity and the high salary expectation will put Singaporeans into a disadvantage. This issue is most difficult to solve.

2)  Be productive. Many Singaporeans spent too much time on getting a degree which they do not fit into the requirements of the job. They need to learn the skills that are needed for the job. A good approach is to accept a job that pays lower, and use the opportunity to acquire the skills that are needed for the job.

3) Be patient. It is easy for a Singaporean to find another job in a tight labor market. If you change job too often, you do not acquire the skills. Instead, you will get a bad reputation and the new employer will avoid you. It is better to be patient and to stay with the same employer for a longer time. Even if the work environment is not conducive, learn to adapt to it. The next place may not be any better.

I know that it is difficult for many Singaporeans to take my suggestions to lower their expectation, to learn new skills and to be patient. While we can continue to press the government to give better protection to Singaporeans, especially those who have sacrificed for the country by serving National Service,  it is better for us to do something on our own to become more valuable to our employers.

Singaporeans do have some advantages to offset the negative points mentioned above. We know Singapore better and have better connections and networks. We should be able to compete better, if we minimize our negative points.

An independent statistics commission

Kenneth Jeyaretnam argues strongly that the National Statistics Commission should report directly to Parliament and not to a minister in the government. This is to ensure that the statistics are reported truthfully and are not slanted to give a favorable impression to the performance of the government. I agree with his arguments.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Universal health insurance in Indonesia

President Jokowi is introducing a universal health insurance system in Indonesia. It provides comprehensive coverage to all employees. The scheme is compulsory and employers have to register all their employees to join this scheme and to pay the premium.

The state insurer has introduced a computer system to link up all the providers (i.e. doctors and hospitals) and all the people who are insured under the scheme. The government providers have registered under the scheme and there is provision for private insurers to join the scheme.

Many employers have given notice to terminate the private insurance coverage for their employees and are moving to join the state scheme. This is likely to have a major impact on the health insurance market in Indonesia.

This is an extremely ambitious scheme and is likely to be very challenging, judging from the painful experience of America in introducing Obamacare, I wish President Jokowi well, in overcoming the daunting challenge.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Indonesia going through a difficult time

Three articles in the front page of the Jakarta Posts shows that Indonesia is going through a difficult time:

1. Another big setback for KPK
KPK is the Corruption Eradication Commission. A court has thrown out a case taken by KPK against a government official for corrupt practices. The sole judge decided that the KPK should not use independent investigators. This decision threatened to invalid all the prosecution cases that were taken by KPK since its formation 11 years ago.

2. Property firm deceives thousand of buyers
The Police has arrested the commissioner of a property marketing firm that allegedly deceived more than 1,000 buyers of properties in various cities. The marketing firm did not own these properties. More than US$60 million were paid to this firm.

3. Nearly 50,000 factory workers lose their jobs
This was due to the economic slowdown that hs now affected the labor intensive industries.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Primary 1 registration

The following thought crossed my mind when I read about the new rules regarding primary 1 admission:…/new-primary-1/1871218.html…
I wondered:
1) Why do parents take the trouble to move their residence near to a "good" primary school?
2) Why is it necessary for a new rule to be introduced to prevent the "abuse"?
3) Is the school going to expel a pupil who has broken this "2 1/2 year rule"?
4) Is there a better approach?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Medishield Life - household information

I overlook the hard copy mail that was sent to me regarding Medishield Life transitional subsidies. Fortunately, I got this timely reminder from Richard Giam's Facebook:

Please remember to log in to with your singpass. To declare your household members in order to receive the 4 years transitional subsidies given by the government due to the implementation of medishield life.
Only 1 member each household need to do this. So any member of the family can do it.
Please do this by 6th of June 2015.
Ministry of health data collection to decide on the subsidy for the coming medishield life exercise. Fill up and replyTake only less than 5 mins to confirm your household members details.
I am sure that there will be a few hundred thousand people who would have overlooked this step, like me. Why was it necessary to carry out this registration? I guess that the government wanted to give a lower subsidy to those who stayed in private houses.
As the government intends to label people according to the type of house that they stay in to give different levels of subsidy, it is better than they assign a code that will last a lifetime. They can use this code to determine the amount of GST offset and other subsidies. It is wasteful to carry out a separate "registration exercise" every time.

A better way is for the government to impose higher property taxes (if this is really necessary) for people who live in private houses. (Actually, this is already happening). After imposing this higher tax, they should give the same level of subsidy to people without worrying about the type of housing that they stay in. They can still differentiate by age group. 
It is wasteful to carry out this type of unproductive work, which must have cost the country several tens of million dollars each time. This waste should be avoided.

Follow the rules

I overheard two elderly teachers discussing how to deal with student issues in school. One teachers raised two issues - taking drugs and being raped. Should the teacher inform the parent? According to the school manual, these affect the privacy of the student. The teacher is not supposed to inform the parent. He said that the parent should be informed, but it is best to "follow the rules".

I dislike thus "follow the rules" mindset that is prevalent in Singapore. What if the rules are written wrongly? Do we follow them blindly?

Common lobby for 2 gates

My flight to Jakarta used gate C25. It uses a common lobby with C19 but there are 2 separate doors and 2 separate screening gates. The door to C25 is closed and the screening gate is unattended. Many passengers to Jakarta were waiting outside, confused. There is a queue waiting to be screened at C19. I asked a security staff why C25 is still closed. She said that it uses a common screening gate as C19. To her, this is "understood". She did not realized that many passengers were confused and waiting outside. This "brainless" behavior is quite common. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Poor business at Kopitiam

I visited Kopitiam at Greenwich V at 8.30 am on a Sunday morning. Only 2 stalls were operating - the drinks stall and the noodle stalls. Another six stalls were closed.  This is in stark contrast to Hong Kong where the restaurants were packed every morning at 7 am. 

Lions XII win the Malaysia F.A. Cup

Congratulations to coach Fandi Ahmad and the Lions XII team for wining the Malaysia FA Cup. It is an unexpected win and something for Singaporeans to be proud of! Here is the coverage in the front page of Today paper. Link

I was following the live blog of Channel News Asia last night. Congratulations to CNA for covering this event. 

Posting in blogspot

I had stopped posting in blogspot for the past year to focus on Facebook. I have now decided to abandon Facebook and come back to blogspot.

Although the readership in blogspot is smaller, I find it  to be a better platform. I do not get the idiots from the Internet Brigade posting their nonsense in my Facebook page.

A morning walk

I took a Sunday morning walk from my home to Greenwich V, a distance of 2.2 km. I could have driven or taken a bus, but I decided that a walk would do me good.

Along the way, I saw a plump woman walking in front of me. As I passed her, I said "good morning" to her. Guess what happened?

Well, she turn around, smiled and said "good morning" to me!. Further down the road, she run passed me to a waiting car. As she entered the car, she looked at me. I gave her a wave and she waved back. The male driver of the car must be wondering what had happened!

Further down the road, two female joggers passed me. I said "good morning" and they replied back.

On the way back, a male jogger was coming towards me. As he passed, I said "good morning". He panted and replied back with a "good morning".

All the people that I had met that morning were polite in returning a greeting.

Blog Archive