Foreigner Influx and Singapore Population: A Chronology

by singaporearmchaircritic

Are you confounded by the slew of studies, surveys, government rhetoric, statistics and policies pertaining to the influx of foreigners to Singapore since the 2011 General Election? Well, I am.

So I’ve collated information on the issue from 2010 till date and arranged them in chronological order such that we may see a fuller and clearer picture from this vantage point. My analysis will follow soon, addressing in particular the points highlighted in bold.

Some questions I hope to answer in my forthcoming post are: What does the government mean by “managing” the foreigner influx? What are the reasons (or excuses) given for the continued influx? What are the population trends and what can Singaporeans expect in the next 1-2 years?

WHEN WHAT THEY SAID WHAT THEY DID THE OUTCOME
1 OCT 2012 Tan Chuan-Jin: Still rising foreign workforce number is a “happy problem” because businesses were doing well enough to demand for more labor despite the tightening
28 SEP 2012 Foreign workers up in Singapore despite tightening; Singapore population up at 5.31 million
27 SEP 2012 Lee Kuan Yew: Foreigners will be brought in at a “comfortable pace” to meet the manpower shortage; diminishing population burdens the young supporting the old;S Iswaran said Singaporeans must have honest conversation about immigration
26 SEP 2012 MTI warned of slow growth, limited real increases in wages and insufficient manpower should there be no inflow of foreigners
25 SEP 2012 Channel News Asia: “Foreign manpower ‘helps local firms maintain competitiveness”MTI: “Strong case for Singapore to continue with calibrated immigration policy”
23 SEP 2012 Lee Hsien Loong: Singapore’s ideal population size is 6 million or so
22 SEP 2012 Mandarin TV Forum: “Singaporeans ‘accepting’ of foreigners”
14 SEP 2012 Sakae Sushi claimed that it had difficulties hiring Singaporeans to be a dishwasher at $3,000 per month
12 SEP 2012 The Business Times: SMEs feeling pain of cuts in foreign-worker passes; MD of beauty salon claimed that few Singaporeans want the job of a beautician even though the total monthly pay is up to $3,000
10 SEP 2012 Tan Chuan-jin: from JAN to JUL 2012, 30% of applications for Employment Passes and S Passes were rejected; this is higher than the 26% rejection rate for the entire 2011
Effective from 1 SEP 2012 Tighten rules for dependents

1) S Pass and Employment Pass holders have to earn a monthly salary of at least $4000 to bring in their spouses and children

2) P1 Pass holders may bring in their parents, spouses and children but not their parents-in-law

3) P2 Pass holders may bring in their spouses and children but not their parents or parents-in-law

28 AUG 2012 Cabinet ministers slammed rising xenophobia
26 AUG 2012 Lee Hsien Loong spoke out against xenophobia in his National Day Rally speech
16 AUG 2012 Tan Chuan-jin: Foreign manpower to be tightened but “policies which make it difficult for companies to do business in Singapore will ultimately hurt Singaporeans”
27 JUL 2012 National Population and Talent Division’s issues paper revealed that most of the new PRs (52%) and citizens (62%) were not economically active. Despite this revelation, the paper noted that without immigration, the ratio of working adults to one elderly will be down to 2:1 by 2030
26 JUL 2012 New York Times: “In Singapore, vitriol against Chinese newcomers”
Effective from 1 July 2012 (A) Tighten foreign worker quota by reducing Dependency Ratio Ceilings (DRCs)

1) Manufacturing: reduced from 65% to 60%

2) Services: reduced from 50% to 45%

3) S Pass: reduced from 25% to 20% across all sectors

4) Man-Year Entitlement (MYE): quota reduced by 5%, levies increased for workers outside of quota

Companies are given 2 years to adjust to new DRCs

(B)Extend and ease limits of work permit

1) Maximum period of employment for Work Permit holders from PRC and Non-Traditional Sources (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand) is increased from 6 to 10 years for all sectors

2) Greater flexibility in deployment of Work Permit holders to different job functions within the same firm in specific industries

2 JUN 2012 ST survey of 400 Singaporeans showed a clear majority believed in the need for foreigners
JUN 2012 1) Foreign workforce grew by 3% to 1,234,000 over 2011

2) EP holders decreased by 0.4% to 174,700 over 2011

3) S Pass holders increased by 12.5% to 128,100 over 2011

4)  WP holders increased by 2.5% to 931,200 over 2011

5) Total non-resident population increased by 7.2% to 1,494,200 over 2011

6) Non-resident population who are not in the workforce (dependents, long-term visitors, students) increased by 32.4% to 260,200 over 2011

26 MAY 2012 HOUGANG BY-ELECTION
2 MAY 2012 Lee Hsien Loong: Singaporeans will always be top priority; “We can’t just keep on bringing in 80,000 more foreign workers a year. There’s just not (enough) space and it’s not sustainable to keep on going up and up
29 APR 2012 Tan Chuan-Jin: Don’t pigeonhole foreigners
17 FEB 2012 Budget 2012: Foreign worker inflow to be tightened
17 FEB 2012 Tharman Shanmugaratnam: “Our increasing dependence on foreign workers is not sustainable
15 FEB 2012 Yaw Shin Leong expelled from Worker’s Party
9 FEB 2012 Lee Hsien Loong: “Singapore has to rely less on foreign workers. In the last five years, about 150,000 foreign workers came into Singapore annually, he said…If this continues every 10 years, there would be one million more people here, he said. With a population of about five million now, the population could grow to six million 10 years later and seven million 20 years from today
17 JAN 2012 ST: Foreign talent policy had effect on income gap
11 JAN 2012 Business Times: SCCCI survey showed that firms were hit by tightened foreign worker inflows
JAN 2012 News broke on Yaw Shin Leong’s alleged affairs  
Effective from JAN 2012 (A) Foreign worker levies to increase at 6 monthly intervals from JAN 2012 to JUL 2013

1) Construction sector: increases from $160-$310 to $300-$600

2) Services: increases from $170-$450 to $300-$600

3) Manufacturing: increases from $170-$450 to $250-$550

4) S Pass: increases from $110-$150 to $300-$450

(B) Further increase in qualifying salaries of foreign workforce

1) Q1 Pass: increased to at least $3000

2) P2 Pass: increased from $4000 to $4500

3) P1 Pass: remained at  $8000

New requirements will be phased in over next 1-2 years for existing EP holders

DEC 2011   1) Foreign workforce grew by 7.6% to 1,197,900 over 2010

2) EP holders increased by 22.4% to 175,400 over 2010

3) S Pass holders increased by 15.4% to 113,900 over 2010

4) WP holders increased by 4.3% to 908,600 over 2010

5) Total non-resident population increased by 6.9% to 1,394,400 over 2010

20 OCT 2011 Tan Chuan-Jin: Foreign worker inflow would be managed such that the economy remained competitive and be able to provide good jobs for Singaporeans; the long term goal was to keep the overall share of foreigners in the workforce at no more than one-third
8 SEP 2011 Institute of Policy Studies projections showed that “there is no way you can keep your population from declining without immigration”
15 AUG 2011 Lee Hsien Loong unveiled Singaporean-first policies in his National Day Rally speech
14 AUG 2011 Lee Kuan Yew said “If we do not take in migrants, we will become an old, diminishing society with no vitality and no drive”
8 AUG 2011 Lee Hsien Loong urged Singaporeans not to turn negative on foreigners
JUL 2011 Increase qualifying salaries of foreign workforce

1) S Pass: increased from $1800 to $2000

2) Q1 Pass: increased from $2500 to $2800

3) P2 Pass: increased from $3500 to $4000

4) P1 Pass: increased from $7000 to $8000

7 MAY 2011 SINGAPORE GENERAL ELECTION
21 APR 2011 Lee Hsien Loong said the influx of foreign workers had boosted the economy, creating more good jobs for Singaporeans
13 APR 2011 Lee Hsien Loong said Singaporeans may understand the rationale for why the government has brought in a large number of foreigners over the years, but it is the ’emotional’ argument that has proven harder to accept
28 MAR 2011 TODAY’s survey showed that foreigners issue might not influence how voters cast ballots
18 JAN 2011 Wong Kan Seng: foreigners needed to boost population
13 JAN 2011 Census 2010 showed that the influx helped to bolster Singapore’s ageing population; however, PRs were having less babies than citizens across all age groups
DEC 2010 1) Foreign workforce grew by 5.7% to 1,113,200 over 2009

2) EP holders increased by 25.4% to 143,300 over 2009

3) S Pass holders increased by 19.2% to 98,700 over 2010

4) WP holders increased by 1.7% to 871,200 over 2009

5) Total non-resident population increased by 4.1% to 1,305,000 over 2009

2 AUG 2010 Institute of Policy Studies’ survey showed that two in three were concerned about the impact of foreigners
15 JUL 2010 Lee Hsien Loong said an inflow of 100,000 extra foreign workers was unavoidable or the economy would overheat