NEO CHAI CHIN
THE Workers’ Party has responded to Member of Parliament Seng Han Thong’s May Day challenge and has put on record that all its staff at the Hougang Town Council are Singaporeans.
At the same time, WP said it is not against the employment of foreigners; its concern is that the dignity and societal position of Singaporean workers be upheld.
The town council does not object to its contractors deploying foreign workers in the estate, for example, said the WP’s organising secretary Yaw Shin Leong (picture) in a press release.
The People’s Action Party’s Mr Seng, who is also assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress, had asked WP to set a national example by hiring only Singaporeans at its town council.
The spirited exchange was triggered by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Boon Heng’s remark that “a sweet, young beer girl from China” drew more patrons to her coffee shop, thus helping an older Singaporean to keep her job. WP pounced on the implication that Singaporeans are dependent on foreigners to keep their jobs.
In its release on Friday, WP said, “Mr Seng has conveniently forgotten to address WP’s questions about his ex-boss Minister Lim’s insensitive comments. Instead, he side-steps them by querying whether all employees of the Hougang Town Council are Singaporeans.”
Referring to its May Day message, the party said it had said: “The Government’s attitude should be to put Singaporeans first; secondly, we should resist any erosion of Singaporeans’ societal standing; and thirdly, it’s the Government’s responsibility to show compassion for the plight of the workers facing the pressure of high inflation.”
In reply to WP’s latest comments, Mr Seng said the opposition “has shifted its position on the issue on foreigners”.
“The WP has implied earlier that foreigners are breaking the rice bowl of Singaporean workers. If WP truly believes in helping Singaporeans, then it should offer all of its work to Singaporeans, and not allow its contractors to employ foreigners,” he said.
Mr Seng said an “inclusive approach” was preferred when it came to labour supply.
“The societal position of Singaporeans has never been in question. Nonetheless, we believe that all workers should be treated with dignity,” he said.