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Wednesday November 27th 2019

Commentary: Why Singaporeans develop Stockholm syndrome when it comes to hiring foreigners

Last year, MOM decided to cut the quota on Work Permits and S-Passes on foreigners. I have experienced and witnessed the emotional backlash when MOM decided not to renew these foreigners’ work permits.

I term this the Stockholm Syndrome – this phenomenon is developed during the Stockholm bank robbery in 1973 when victims develop empathy for their kidnappers after being captured by them for a long period of time.

Many Pinoys work as medical healthcare allied staff and pharmacists in Singapore.

Due to the drastic cut, one Pinoy pharmacist working in Guardian Pharmacy was asked to leave after her permit to work in Singapore was not renewed. As she was single and had no family commitments in Singapore, it is very likely that she will be the first one to be sacrificed.

She was after all a very dedicated worker with a good attitude. Even the most hard-core anti-foreigner colleague tried to help her with a shoulder to cry on. One colleague who is Singaporean even helped her to draft an appeal to MOM. This colleague actually has previously bad-mouthed how some Pinoys were depressing pharmacist salaries and competing with locals for competition to be promoted to Senior Pharmacists.

She became desperate and appealed to HR but HR said that the matter was not in their hands. As a result, she was even told one of her close colleague to help her find a boyfriend with a Singapore citizenship so that she can get married to any Singapore man and hopefully it will improve her chances to work in Singapore.

She was drawing a high salary of more than S$4000 as a pharmacist. Convert this to Philippines peso and the exchange rate is 5 times. As she was working in Guardian for a few years,

Another Pinoy medical technologist working in a government hospital was on work permit for a few years. He has no intention to become PR in Singapore. He has a baby and a wife in Philippines and wanted to reunite with his family. On one occasion, he was heard, “I don’t want Singapore PR. I just want my baby!”

With thousands of medical technologists graduating from NTU, Nanyang Poly and Singapore Poly, there is absolutely no need for hospitals to employ Pinoys at all.

The boss, who is a Singaporean lab director, was once heard by me bad-mouthing China staff that they were infesting other departments and competing with Singaporeans for job promotions.

But she was forced to hire some Pinoys as they were more willing to work permanent night shifts as their families are not located in Singapore.

In addition, permanent night shift allowances can be quite substantial and any Pinoy would want to work for more money to send money back home to their families.

This Pinoy medical technologist has a wife who is also a medical technologist in Philippines. She also has a baby in Philippines. She applied and was given a job in Parkway which is notorious for hiring many Pinoys. She had hoped that she could finally reunite with her husband and her baby in Singapore.

However, due to the quota cap, MOM did not give her the permit to work in Singapore.

He asked for the lab director to help. And even though she is Singaporean and a mother herself, it pained her as he was separated from his wife and baby.

As a result, she even wrote to MOM to appeal to ask the officer to allow the Pinoy wife to work in Singapore and reunite with the husband.

These isolated acts of kindness may run counter-current to MOM’s policy to reduce the foreigners quota. Think about the potential of abuse if Singapore bosses get soft-hearted and if they try to intercept MOM every time they try to discontinue a foreigner’s work permit.

The damage has already been done. Once you allow a foreigner to work in Singapore, it is very difficult to ask them to resign and they will definitely put up a good fight wit ha strong case to stay in Singapore.

Most Pinoys, Indians and China nationals already get their PRs. It will be quite impossible to ask them to leave Singapore unless MOM or ICA should decide to discontinue their PR renewal.

Many jobless Singaporeans will still be jobless at the end of the day.

Edmund Lim

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