What do Singaporeans think of foreigners?

Expats: Singapore is becoming increasingly xenophobic

"Especially in these uncertain times, I want to remind all employers to do their part to expand the Singapore core workforce," Lee said in parliament on Wednesday. Otherwise, the companies would have to reckon with consequences in the allocation of new work permits for foreigners.

The day before, Lee's Minister of Labor, Josephine Teo, announced that she would initiate an investigation into companies whose “Singaporean core” was weakened. She wants to get these companies to redesign their profile with a view to the origins of their employees.

Dissatisfaction is growing in the population

Teo's ministry put 47 employers on a watch list in early August on suspicion of discrimination against the local population. According to the government, the companies not named are said to have recruited more than 40 percent of their specialists and managers from abroad. A large number of the companies come from the financial sector.

Hiring foreign personnel should now also become more expensive: Since September 1, there has only been a work permit with a minimum monthly salary of around 2800 euros. This lower threshold was raised for the second time this year.

In the spring it was still 2200 euros. The minimum wages for the financial sector are set to rise even further in December. "I would not be surprised if fewer visas are issued in the future because the demand for foreigners will fall," commented Grant Torrens, Singapore boss of the personnel service provider Hays.

With the planned restriction of the influx of skilled workers, the government is reacting to growing dissatisfaction among the population. The opposition Labor Party, which won more seats in parliament than ever before in the July election, had called for a restriction on the influx of foreign workers in its election manifesto.

An increase in xenophobic statements on social media recently caused a sensation, including those directed against the Indian head of the Singapore bank DBS Piyush Gupta.

Government on the side of the Singaporeans

The Temasek sovereign wealth fund has also come under fire in recent weeks: LinkedIn profiles have been shared online by foreign Temasek employees, combined with criticism that the company is not hiring local people instead. Temasek condemned this as a "divisive, racist campaign".

Prime Minister Lee tried to contribute to rhetorical disarmament in parliament: "Even if we adjust our criteria for work permits, we must not give the impression that we are closing ourselves off," he said. After all, being an international business center is Singapore's recipe for success.

At the same time, however, he underlined: "The government will always be on the side of the Singaporeans." The only purpose of creating jobs for foreigners is to ultimately improve the standard of living of the local population.

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