Straits Times: WP: Unfair to slam researchers

THE Workers’ Party (WP) yesterday took to task Acting Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen, saying his criticisms of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) economists were “uncalled for and unfair”.

It also lambasted the Manpower Ministry (MOM) for deciding to release classified data only now, because the economists’ findings had placed its policies under scrutiny.

In a statement signed by the party’s secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, the WP said it was “astonished” by the response of the ministry to the findings of NTU dons Associate Professors Tan Khee Giap and Chen Kang.

The duo, who on Wednesday made public their findings that three out of every four new jobs created in the past five years went to foreigners, were on Thursday rapped by Dr Ng for getting the facts wrong.

Dr Ng said the researchers were “irresponsible” and “unprofessional” for not verifying the facts, and presented new figures that showed instead that nine out of 10 new jobs created went to Singaporeans.

In the WP statement, Mr Low, MP for Hougang, noted the NTU economists’ stance that they had used MOM’s data published on its website as a basis for their analysis and said they did not “pluck the data from the air”.

It was only in response to their findings that MOM released previously classfied data. Mr Low questioned if it was doing so only because its policies were being scrutinised. “Is there other relevant data which MOM has not yet released?” he asked.

He also rebutted Dr Ng’s point that the economists should have verified ther data with his ministry.

“Is the Acting Minister saying that official data published by the Government is unreliable and any study based on the data has to be further verified by the relevant authority?

“If so, what is the purpose and use of the published government statistics?” he asked.

Taking a swipe at the Government’s efforts in remaking Singapore, he concluded: “Before we can talk about remaking Singapore, the Government needs to first examine its own attitude and response to open discussion and public debate.”