A business owner’s point-of-view
I own a small eatery in the East, and everytime the ministers talk about foreign workers I start to worry whether they are going to make it more difficult to hire foreigners again.
Yes, I know this is a very unpopular opinion. But some businesses like mine really need foreign workers to survive. This is because a lot of the work in my business is about customer service, and many Singaporeans are overqualified for such jobs.
The harsh truth is that small businesses like mine sometimes do not attract Singaporeans, and we need foreign workers to survive. It is easy for the government to say that we must retain our workers and train them, but it is easier said than done. First step is to let us hire workers!
This is why I think the government must be strong enough to understand the concerns of people like me, and not lower the foreign worker quota too much.
For years, Singaporeans relied on the grunt work that foreigners put in to the ‘low skilled’ job industry that most would want to avoid. They clean our void decks, prepare food at Hawker Centres and work at retail outlets.
Few flashpoints between Singaporeans and foreign workers in recent times also show that, like every other developed country, the tensions between both are never completely reconciled.
The perennial debate is thus how one can find the right balance between reliance on foreigner labour whilst ensuring that Singapore has the infrastructure and jobs to meet both the needs of both Singaporeans and our foreign working counterparts.
I don’t think I am the only one lamenting Char Kway Teow not tasting the same anymore. Or feel sheepish when there’s a breakdown in communication when speaking to service staff.
What this does point to, may not necessarily be linked to xenophobia in our pressure cooker like society – but our effort to protect whatever little we have or know about our national identity. Perhaps it’s time not to cling onto that little that we have, but to perhaps roll with the punches and grow as a nation.