The Good and Bad of Foreign Talent

Foreign talents in Singapore can be considered the epitope of a complete society, particularly for a country with small demographics and limited talent scopes. Specifically, they include any non-Singaporeans who work white collar occupations within our geographical boundaries. On the other hand, they pose threats to the chances of employment for Singaporeans, may cause culture dilution in the long run, and unnecessary nuisances for the public and for the state.

To idealists, the influx of foreign talent into Singapore curbs our problems in labour deficiency, to bring about greater economic growth and societal advancement. The presence of foreign talents in Singapore increases the strength and efficiency of our labour force. This is in view of our ever declining birth rate till below the minimum number of 2 children per household or woman. Without foreign talents, a smaller working population will be faced with the burden of the larger and aging population. With the influx of foreign talents, Singapore’s total population has been increasing over the past 40 years, following the increase in GDP in that duration as well. As the Singapore economy flourishes, material welfare for individuals in society increases as well. An amelioration of Singapore occurs, where standard of living is increased, against the fall in Singaporean citizens population. Therefore, the influx of foreign talents improves our economy and our society, contrary to the expectation of poor economic growth with our below-minimum national birth rate.

Nonetheless, the inflow of foreign talents increases competition for Singaporeans in finding employment. Foreign talents are specialised professionals with supposed greater talent in white collar occupations, similar to the career dreams for majority of the Singaporean graduates and working population. There will inevitably be tension among these two groups, as foreign talents very easily get their jobs in their specialisations, and Singaporeans fight for their rights to a career they dream of. This problem of inequity of employment in workplaces, where companies employ relatively great numbers of foreign talent as opposed to Singaporeans, is so detrimental that the government has to implement a legislation requiring every enterprise operating in Singapore to at least have a 1 to 1 ratio of foreigners and Singaporeans in their list of employment. This shows that working Singaporeans are diminishing in value to enterprises, decreasing their chances of entering the workforce. There is no guarantee of a monthly income for Singapore citizens, and no guarantee that they are able to put rice on their tables on every single day of their life. Proposing that Singapore’s GDP has been increasing with the help of foreign talents is a fact, but a fact that does not consider the actual plights of Singapore citizens themselves. Since a relatively high proportion of foreign talent get their white collar and high paying jobs easily as compared to Singaporeans, the success of the economy will be experienced mostly by the non-Singaporeans instead of Singapore citizens themselves. Hence, the increase in competition due to the inflow of foreign talents is one that is likely to be unfavourable to the native citizens.

Additionally, the entry of foreign talents threatens the social security and societal etiquette in Singapore. Foreign talents are non-Singaporeans who do not have a full understanding of our law and culture. They may cause unnecessary nuisances for the public and the state. A few years back, a son of a wealthy foreigner drew graffiti on one of the train cabins of SMRT. In many countries around the world, doing graffiti in public areas may be allowed, or not regulated by the relevant authorities. Similarly, other laws that are not enforced in other countries may be meticulously upheld in Singapore. Foreigners who enter Singapore may not know of the strict laws and punishments imposed to those who break them, and may engage in behaviour that are nuisances to the public of the state, hampering public security and societal etiquette. Thus, the increase in foreign talents in Singapore augments the numbers of unnecessary nuisances for the public and the state.

Furthermore, the inpouring of foreign talents into Singapore may cause culture dilution, and subsequently a lost of national identity in the long run. With a relatively high rate of acceptance of foreign talent into our shores, cultures of people from all walks of life is likely to be shared to Singaporeans. Singapore is increasingly becoming a cosmopolitan city, with people from all over the world with completely different cultures all in a tiny island. At the current level, the influx of foreign talents into Singapore takes up close to half of the Singaporean citizens. As people are exposed to different cultures and traditions, Singaporean culture is likely to fade. In the past years, the Chinese New Year period is increasingly used for the purpose of overseas holidays. For two reasons: Singaporeans are influenced by the western culture from foreign friends into forgoing ethnic traditions, and Singaporeans are more inclined to leave this overpopulated island for some peace and quiet. Nevertheless, this is contrary to our tradition where people are expected visit relatives to ‘bai nian’ or celebrate the new year. Singapore citizens are inevitably losing their own culture and values, and forgetting the meaning of being a Singaporean. We are slowly losing our national identity as Singaporeans. This problem is so prevalent in Singapore that Singaporeans are even forgoing patriotism for our country. Hundreds of thousands of native Singaporeans had left and migrated out of Singapore in search of better lives in the past 40 or so years. This is a large number considering our small demographics. Henceforth, Singapore is about to experience complete culture dilution and the lost of national identity in the long run if foreign talent continue to enter our country.

All in all, foreign talents have had both positive and negative effects in my society – Singapore. To the government, practicality is what matters. They choose to bring in foreign talents in large numbers to boost the country’s economy. However, in both the short and the long terms, Singaporeans suffer more than benefit from the influx of foreign talents. Immediately, Singaporeans will experience lack of employment options and a decrease in social security and public etiquette. In the long run, Singaporeans will experience the lost of our own culture and national identity. It is inevitable that the government chooses the more pragmatic approach to solving the problem of declining birth rates in Singapore. Perhaps the government can focus more on solving the actual cause for the problem, by tackling the problem of declining birth rate more, to prevent such deleterious effects to our local population.


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