Category Archives: Immigration

The FT Factor – Aping the U.S. Not Right for Singapore

Foreign Talent (FT) is an expression that is often met with derision in Singapore because of the questionable quality of people being imported into the country.

It became a matter of concern two years ago when Singaporeans began to see a big dip in the quality of life here because of overpopulation through influx from across the shores. Not only were they losing jobs to foreigners even fresh graduates were finding it difficult to enter the workforce. Prime places in the universities in the country were going to foreigners, too.

To compound the situation, the government came up with a lofty plan to boost the population even further – from 5 million to 7 million in 15 years. Not often do governments come up with such insane decisions.

Quality of Life, a Casualty

Singapore was aping the U.S. in every way possible with an eye on the GDP and the economy. In the process, the quality of life has become a casualty.

But the U.S. itself is at a breaking point now after decades and decades of liberalism that disadvantaged Americans. The last few years saw more and more companies in the U.S. laying off American workers who had to train those from overseas who were replacing them. What gumption!

With the emergence of Mr Donald Trump as President, the administration is trying to turn the slogans, “America First” and “America for Americans”, into reality. And why not!

While one of Mr Trump’s first actions was to tackle any influx of terrorists he is also in the process of bringing about changes to the H-1B visa programme. Under this system, 85,000 “high-skilled” foreigners find employment in the U.S. each year, the bulk of them from India.

Through a recent order, the U.S. has suspended expedited processing of H1-B visa applications. But the administration also appears to have indicated that H-1B reform is not a priority for the U.S.

So, Indians can breathe easy! But will a “Singaporeans First” policy come into force in the country? I mean a meaningful policy that goes beyond slogans.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Population Debate in Singapore Reignited

Economic growth with a substandard quality of life is not a happy compromise

The Singapore mainstream media have consistently been happy taking a pro-Government line. With a well-run Singapore, which has seen the country scale phenomenal heights, there has largely been no need for the media to come down on the Government. I am not an advocate of unfettered freedom.

Objective reporting by newspapers, nonetheless, is something I welcome. I have not seen much along this path in The Straits Times. Even the letters they pick are non-controversial and generally pro-establishment.

Social Media Rumblings

It is only in the social media that we see rumblings of discontent over the Government’s excessive friendliness to foreigners, businesses and pure lucre at the expense of a high-quality life that Singaporeans enjoyed when the population was less than four million about two decades ago.

This morning’s edition of The Straits Times had a letter from a reader in its Forum page supporting the Singapore Government’s White Paper on Population. The White Paper had argued for boosting the country’s population to about seven million by 2030 by importing foreign talent, an exercise that has seen the country bring in international mediocrity as well.

If the anticipated population materialises, it will mean about 1.6 million people more in an already overcrowded and overpopulated Singapore.

Roadmap for Trimming Population is the Need

The population issue had caused a lot of angst among locals, justifiably so, as their wellbeing had been seriously compromised by the Government’s open-door policy.

Amid all the talk of a labour crunch, Singaporeans struggle to find jobs and find places in the local universities. A number of university places for important courses are being taken by foreigners, forcing Singaporeans to look overseas for education.

Economy Not Everything

The most important action the Government must take is to come up with a roadmap to trim the country’s population by about 20%. The economy is not everything when it comes to determining a country’s future. The wellbeing of its citizens and a high quality of life are more important.

In one of my earlier posts here, I had taken the position that Economic growth with a substandard quality of life is not a happy compromise. I have no reason to move away from that stand.

It is naive to imagine that the economy will take a hit if the population is trimmed. The revenues for the Government may fall as there will be less people and entities to collect taxes from.

But the people will be a happier lot with jobs and better education without having to contend with stifling density.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Filed under General, Immigration, Overpopulation in Singapore, Singapore media

Reckless Immigration Behind Brexit – Signals for Singapore

Prime Minister David Cameron may have erred in calling for the referendum that ended yesterday in Britain’s narrow vote for an exit from the European Union.

But he deserves credit for honouring the promise he made to the British electorate – that he will hold a referendum if elected.

If the issue of reckless immigration had been addressed, Brexit may have been avoided. In 2015 alone, 630,000 new immigrants moved to the United Kingdom, affecting job prospects for the British and dragging salaries lower.

This lent ammunition to the pro-exit campaigners who also saw it as one of the factors suffocating sovereignty and called for freedom and self-determination.

Out of a population of 65 million in the UK, only around 14% of them are foreigners. Still the resentment was deep enough to trigger an exit from the EU.

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More than 40% Foreigners in Singapore: In contrast, foreigners in Singapore are believed to make up around 40-50% of the population of 5.5 million. That is too huge an intake of foreigners. Singaporeans have proved to be a generous, welcoming lot. So foreigners find it easy in the country.

It may not last long as unemployment among locals is a growing menace even as foreign mediocrity is being brought into the country in the name of talent. 

Even mere engineering diploma holders from countries like India are finding easy employment in Singapore. The local universities, where admissions are stringent for locals, also offer a backdoor entry for foreigners.

SIN

Unless the government tightens immigration and takes effort to reduce population density in the country, the status quo of friendliness towards foreigners may come under threat.

Foreigners, including PRs, should form no more than 15% of the total population. Every effort must be made to trim the population to around 4.5 million. The economy will still be fine and the quality of life for residents better.

Back to the Referendum: The Brexit referendum results show “a wide gulf between a liberal metropolitan class and working class people.”

The City of London, for instance, was overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU with a vote of 75.3% with the North of England holding the maximum Eurosceptics and tilting the balance in favour of Brexit. Clear tensions over mindless immigration have triggered the exit.

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G Joslin Vethakumar

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Filthy-Wealthy Welcome in the U.K.?

Open-Door Policy for World’s Economic Offenders, Political Outcasts

The sun may have long set on the once formidable British empire. But it continues to draw big investments from the world’s high and mighty for whom it appears to have an open-door policy. Those flush with cash enjoy easy residency there, no matter what their criminal background is!

Swedish pop group Abba couldn’t have gone wrong with its hit number, Money, Money, Money, Always Sunny in the rich man’s world.

LondonIndian PM’s Friends: Indian businessman Lalit Modi, who has enjoyed the patronage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP ministers (including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj), is facing money laundering charges in his home country.

British and Indian governments colluded to get Lalit Modi travel documents for his fun escapades. The fugitive has been living in London since 2010, partying and swimming in copious wealth.

Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, facing massive debts, also scooted India recently, with Modi’s government doing little to stop him. Both Mr Modi and Mr Mallya lead opulent lives in England while facing criminal charges in India.

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Fugitive Lalit Modi with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

They and other fugitives, including Russian banksters, wanted for commercial frauds have found in London a safe haven. It is not as if the U.K. administration is unaware of it. The head of its National Crime Agency had acknowledged last year that London is “a global haven for criminal financial activity.”

Bollywood music director Nadeem Saifi also found refuge in London despite facing a murder charge in India – that of being behind the killing of a top music label founder, Gulshan Kumar.

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Lalit Modi with Indian PM Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah

Panama Trouble for Pak. PM: It can be beyond money for England as Al-Qaeda and LTTE sympathisers had found refuge in England. I will not be surprised if the U.K. is a safe hideout for even rich ISIS elements.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is currently in London along with two other top opposition leaders from the country, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan.

Mr Sharif had been in exile previously in the U.K. and is reported to own several properties there through shell companies set up by his children, as the Panama Papers have revealed. Given the disclosures, speculation is rife that Mr Sharif may not return to Pakistan, spending his time between London and Saudi Arabia where he has a home.

Since British Prime Minister David Cameron has also found himself in Panama trouble, Mr Sharif is in good company there.

Former President of Pakistan, Gen. Musharraf, had also been accommodated by Britain in the past.

Thaksin-Shinawatra_1382583cThaksin Shinawatra’s Frozen Assets in U.K.: Another leader who has enjoyed the hospitality of England is former Prime Minister of Thailand, billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra. He had lived in London in exile for a while before moving out to friendlier countries.

He reportedly has Montenegro citizenship and has been travelling using six passports. He also once had a residency permit in Germany.

The U.K. is also said to have frozen $4.2 billion of his assets there. Unlike his Pakistani counterparts, Mr Shinawatra did not have to rely on political power for his billions. He made them even before he became PM as a top businessman in Thailand.

Thaksin Shinawatra’s Frozen Assets in U.K.: Former Prime Minister of Thailand, billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, has lived in London in exile though he moved out, reportedly Montenegro citizenship and travelling using six passports.  The U.K. is said to have frozen $4.2 billion of his assets there. He also once had a residency permit in Germany.

From terror groups to economic offenders and political outcasts who flee to London, the common bond is massive wealth. England appears happy to remain a haven for the well-heeled, escaping from the law in their home countries who are not serious enough to bring them to task!

Extradition is hardly sought and any pronouncements against the criminals safely ensconced in the lap of luxury are merely to fool the gullible!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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