Singapore Needlessly Discriminates Against Expats

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 9/25/2013 04:30:00 PM
The cute (and very rare) Singapore baby
Here's another interesting feature about the politics of migration being waged right here in Southeast Asia. One of the reasons why the People's Action Party of (PAP) Singapore lost 40% of the popular vote in the 2011 elections is frustration over foreigners purportedly taking away plum jobs, scarce housing and using public services, leaving its citizens to seethe. It even seems its losses are widening. In response, the PAP has ushered in curbs on hiring foreigners--a "Singapore for Singaporeans" sort of policy. With anger not yet subsiding, the government is now seeking to advertise openings first to locals as a policy response:
Singapore will widen foreign-worker curbs to professional jobs as the government clamps down on companies that hire overseas talent at the expense of citizens, stepping up efforts to counter a backlash against immigration.

The Southeast Asian nation said yesterday it will set up a job bank where companies are required to advertise positions to Singaporeans before applying for so-called employment passes for foreign professionals. The unprecedented policy will target jobs that currently pay at least S$3,000 ($2,400) a month, an amount that will be raised to S$3,300 by January. 
In case you're curious, the unemployment rate in Singapore is 2.1%--3% for Singaporeans. While it is minuscule by Western standards, Singaporeans are apparently not keen to compare themselves with the old world:
The job bank will be set up by mid-2014, the Ministry of Manpower said in a statement yesterday. Companies with 25 or fewer employees will be exempt from the new rules, as well as jobs that pay a fixed monthly salary of S$12,000 or more, it said. The cap was set as that would include 95 percent of the local workforce, it said.

“This is a step up from the government’s efforts to tighten the quality and the quantity of the foreign worker inflows,” said Chua Hak Bin, an economist at Bank of America Corp. in Singapore. “We’re moving to another phase now where they’re looking to ensure that opportunities for the middle-income Singaporeans are maintained.”

The nation’s unemployment rate rose to 2.1 percent in the second quarter, with the resident jobless rate at about 3 percent. That “translates to 50,000, 60,000 Singaporeans without jobs,” Tan, the minister, said. “What the regime allows is that there may be a better matching of demand and supply” between companies and job-seekers, he said. 
At any rate, I am convinced that there is nothing structurally amiss with immigration to Singapore for the very simple reason that its total fertility rate is well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. It has not reached that level since 1976. Barring migrants wholesale would result in depopulation in quite short order since its current total fertility rate is 1.2:

My take is that there is currently slack in Singapore's mostly white-collar labor market due to a number of factors such as reduced hiring in service sectors alike banking post-global financial crisis. These will soon even out, though, easing complaints from locals that foreigners are "stealing their jobs" and so forth. Natalist policies haven't exactly born fruit.  Make no mistake: Singapore's real problem in the medium- to long-term is not having too many people, but having too few of them. (Cue Barbra.)

PS: Besides, isn't Singapore supposed to be the world's most adaptive nation?