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New Hawker Programme And How Government & Elites Failed Singaporeans

What a splendid programme. a new one year course for Polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates to be a professional hawker. I really admire the brilliant brains of Singapore Inc to come up with this course. So I googled to check if other countries have something similar. We are indeed unique. Being the only country to conduct such a course, perhaps we should start taking in foreign enrollments. Some new scholarships for foreign students would be encouraging, plus an incentive for auto-PR to operate a food stall here after graduation.

Our demographics have shifted dramatically. I estimate 2 out of every 5 persons in Singapore are foreigners. The government fudges the statistics by embedding foreigners with PR status together with local residents. The actual figures of foreigners are thus not transparent. A lax barrier to entry of foreign workers (and their dependents), especially CECA (the FTA with India) caused a flood of foreign workers into the market. The frustrations and anger of Singaporeans at having their jobs stolen has been brewing for a decade.

All over the world, advanced countries have to grapple with the problem of filling the lower level jobs that locals do not want. Singapore is no exception. So for years, we relied heavily on the good people in our region to fill up the low and unskilled jobs. In the last decade, something changed. The jobs being taken over by foreigners now are PMETs. Even the C-suites are now gone.

There is now a glaring anomaly. Singapore has excellent institutions of learning, and a well-educated, disciplined workforce. These are factors which played a critical role in the roaring success of the Lion City in the past. But this same workforce is now shunned in deference to imported labour from countries that are rated generally much lower than Singapore by all measures of quality metrics.

The rational is pretty straight forward. The government pursues GDP cold-bloodedly on the backs of cheaper foreign labour at the expense of the locals. As we crossed over into the higher value economy, we have hit the diminishing returns on productivity. All businesses big and small, resort to cheaper imported labour to maintain their bottom lines. This is the cold reality.

Our skilled work force is a casualty of the neoclassical economics as we see a tectonic shift of PMETs forced into the gig sector, taking up jobs as Grab driving, food delivery, hawkers, tutoring, freelancing, etc. Ministers who once spoke of the vital importance of human resources given Singapore’s lack of natural resources, now see no urgency in the national pool of talent gone to waste. Left unaddressed, this  trajectory will lead to a serious problem of a hollowing out of our own local talent pool. A sociopolitical timebomb is in the works. Singaporeans have been pushed into the cul de sac, a place where Lee Kuan Yew was well aware, people carry hatchets there. It’s a powder keg but the ruling party, with the confidence of a police state, fears no ‘stop-the-steal’ scenario. With votes guaranteed by calibrated naturalisation of foreign workers, no serious change in imported labour policies is on the horizon.

Where are the voices from our industry leaders? ABSOLUTE SILENCE. Is there any who has voiced concerns? Any suggestions? Anyone that said the unemployment situation is bad so I’m going to keep the jobs for Singaporeans? None of these. As corporate animals, they all want record bottom lines to satiate the bank balances of the most important stakeholders, the top executives. Why should they pay top dollars for a Singaporean manager when a 30 year old MBA from India can fill the post at half the cost, does’nt matter the quality of the certificate. The Singapore elites have abandoned the ordinary Singaporeans. Corporate greed over jobs for Singaporeans.

The government dumbs down on Singaporeans with Explainer #1 – foreign talents are critical for the new economy skills our country lacks.  Singaporeans are cosmopolitan enough to appreciate that foreign talents are useful and top talents are headhunted by corporations all over the world. These would be the top tier talents in the latest and emerging technologies, the deal makers, the marketers with international connectedness, the level 1 executives of industry sector that Singapore wants to develop. The core of Singaporean push back of foreign PMETs are those executives in general management such as HR, Administration, Facility Management, Operations, Purchasing, Customer Services, Public Relation, Promotion, Advertising, Accounting, Finance, Treasury, IT systems development, etc.These foreign PMETs take away Singaporean jobs, they are not here to create jobs. Do we need hundreds of thousands of them here? The government is afraid, very afraid, to provide the real data of what type of foreign talents are really here. It will out their lies.

The Government rubs it in with Explainer #2 – foreigners help to create jobs for locals.The foreign talents that come here and create jobs are the investors and entrepreneurs. and there can’t be 1 million of them here.

Admission of failure is implicit in Explainer # 1. The Ministry of Education failed to plan for the market requirements of the new economy. Back in the 1980s, when Singapore decided to shift away from labour intensive industries to high value added economy, we underwent a wholistic structural change. That included educational curricular refocus for learning institutions to churn out the technically and professionally relevant graduates. In contrast to Iskandar Technology Corridor of Malaysia, Johore in the 1990s. Malaysia made no change in school curriculum to produce the technicians. When industries moved into Iskandar, there was a big problem of lack of the right labour skills. If our government now says we lack the skills for the new economy, its another way of saying, like Iskandar then, MOE did’nt plan the educational system well this time.

The nouveau business trend is ‘hubbing’. Basically, the MNCs are reshapping their business models into regional hubs where regional HQs control a geographical sphere of operations. Singapore has a significant share of the action for various reasons such as political stability, good infrastructures, skilled labour force (and now lower cost and readily sourced from India and elsewhere), strong financial market, pro-business government, clear legislation. sufficient pool of professional support in various spheres of business, etc. A concentration of HQs on the island means big corporate decisions are made here, such as regards maintenance of supply chain, distribution, telecommunication, commodity sourcing, etc. In order to support these big corporate decisions, our financial markets, risk mitigation markets, the commodity exchanges, international law professionals, etc, have developed in tandem. The overall picture is a rosy one. But the never-mentioned part is MNCs site their operating units in the region, such as Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia etc. The issue with this is HQs in Singapore generate no tax revenue to the government. The point then is, tremendous economic activity is created around this hubbing model, but we don’t have any metrics to understand the net impact given the influx of foreign workers.  Has the benefit trickled down to Singaporeans or foreign workers?

The government constantly defends CECA by dumbing down on the lack of skills of Singaporeans in emerging technologies. Whilst it is of course true there are always some top of the heap skills that not just Singaporeans, but every other country. do not have, the rationale has been totally quoted out of proportion. It’s got to a point Singaporeans are having a crisis of self-doubts. A depressive mood has replaced the confidence we once had under the 1st gen leadership. I like to pooh-pooh this crap mentality with a real life story of a young Singaporean I know well. Let’s call him Lowian. He worked in the Singapore office of one of the world’s biggest FMCG corporation. Their data analytics was outsourced to a specialist big data company. About 3 years ago the company decided to set up their own big data capability. Lowian was sent to Vietnam to set up the company. One year later, the company was in operation and Lowian is the head honcho there. Lowian is no scientist nor electronic engineer. He is just a young Singaporean with some humble IT background. The company is now running big data analytics with 100% Vietnamese employees. There are no Indian IT experts.

With a population of 3.5m true Singaporeans, and having built an economy and infrastructure and services for 6.9m, Singapore is in a situation similar to United Arab Emirate. We have painted ourselves into a corner. The policy of dependence on foreign workers cannot be reversed without causing a collapse of the property market and wrecking the whole economy.  And so the government does lip service with band aid regulatory changes designed to constraint employers’ predatory recruitment practices that disadvantage Singaporeans. Most of these have been seen to be ineffective. The government also funds several palliative skills upgrading courses. One really wonders what additional skills can managers in HR, admin, facility maintenance, finance, procurement, sales, etc add on to help them retain their jobs.

And so this new hawkerpreneuralship course is yet one more brilliant idea of the government. Dressed up beautifully for the public but addresses not the real problem of stolen jobs. But who really cares. MP Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, has her sight set on many ribbon cutting events for new food stall openings. There is no more need for her to cut ribbons for new bus stops and garbage bins. At least for her, there is an upgrade of sorts.

 

Chempost

* The author blogs at Going down the rabbit hole.

 

 

yyy
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30 Responses to “New Hawker Programme And How Government & Elites Failed Singaporeans”

  • Wrong target:

    This course is meant for foreigners to teach (fast track) them local food culture. To them, PR = $inkies.

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  • Harder Truths:

    No use talking to 61% and regime. $G born are beggars in their own rotten little island.

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  • PAP CLOSE DOWN:

    Finally, a truly great article that addresses pertinent issues without mincing any words. Sharp, concise, to the point. Great read.

    The PAP HAS to honor FTAs with other countries. SO they and industry leaders DELIBERATELY gave jobs/scholarships/citizenships to aliens and tell Singaporeans to go sell food as Singaporeans AREN”T GOOD ENOUGH. Like the writer noted, it’s a terrible irony, since our schools are rated higher than those institutes that aliens have graduated from.

    Now schools stand to profit from tuition fees from these hawker programs. It’s interesting to study the curriculum. Whether they actually teach people to cook great food or if it’s just a biz ad/marketing course for aspiring hawkers.

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  • FARTING WHILE COOKING:

    This programme is likened to Farting-while-Cooking coz the wafts of the food in preparation would certainly obscure the real stinking nonstop farts by the chef.

    On the same note,it obscures the real stink of the total failure in creating jobs for Singaporeans; jobs that Singaporeans can and want to do.

    Is this somewhat an arty-farty education policy which deviates from the core objective of providing employment for Singaporean graduates with correct job-matching? All there is, is improper planning driven with incompetency and complacency of the socalled topnotches?

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  • CECA:

    It is apparently a fake promise of PAPi dreamland, purposefully drag over a long time of 1 year to quell public unrest over the unemployment situation in Singapore, clearing the street off the unemployed while unabashedly collect their sky high salaries with no shame.

    If the educational system in Singapore have failed those poly-students who have wasted so many years of their time ending up taking further another more year just to be a “hawker”, then the question is why should anyone not doubt or be trusting the system anymore?

    There is no reason unless those poly students are made so dumb as to not able to think for themselves. I don’t think so.

    Who said “FT creates more good paying jobs for Singaporeans”? Hawkers? Food Deliveries? Taxi drivers?

    Time for Change.

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  • Tremendous:

    Beautifully argued.
    The chiefs have to bring in the foreigners to cover up their decades of failure to reverse fertility rates. Latest is to get the west coastal innanee
    to check on young families. Is she the new chief for village population growth ? They think it’s only a young family problem. Villagers must be dumb to give birth when costs are high, safety nets are uncertain and jobs are snatched. So west coastal villagers owe the whole village a solid explanation – why did they use their idiot hands and brains to vote for this kind of calibre ? The village will be done for in less than six years. Blame the idiot voters who voted the pack of idiot chiefs.

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  • Pap has the mandate:

    Stinkaporeans have just screwed themselves, instead of moving up the ladders they are descending downwards, why waste your years in primary school, secondary school, ITE and Poly and then go and be a hawker, start early and work in the hawker from primary school. Wait, PAP Government is going to make mandatory to have degree or Poly dip to be the criteria for being a hawker…LOL Stinkaporeans remember you get what you voted for…lol..Stinkapreans are a bunch of yellow pansies and suckers.

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  • Pinky is useless anyway:

    The plan is to grow GDP and let foreigners rule Singaporeans, this plan was hatched more than 20 years ago. I saw it coming and told all my local friends. As usual, all brushed off and told me I was over-reacting. Today, many of these peers now driving PHV or doing menial jobs.

    Foreigners coming to Singapore landing PMET jobs will end up at the higher rung of society and ruling locals. As the numbers get bigger, locals become poorer group while new citizens enjoy the pay and rank where locals once have. Some locals may still enjoy life but these are the few who outshined and survived but majority will be relegated to second tier.

    The plan has been on for more than 20 years, it is like cancer in 4th stage, there is no way to recover. Local bornts need to make up their mind to vote them out to slow down the cancer growth. The new party will at least stop this nonsense and perhaps revert CPF to the old scheme.

    61% of the voters consists of die hard, scared of everything and new citizens. These people are one accelerating the immigration. So if they dont have jobs or their kids cannot find jobs, it is all their votes. New citizens will have the same fate once they become citizens, karma will come back to haunt them, already found a lot of them driving PHVs too.

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  • xoxo:

    I feel compelled to borrow a few FAMOUS WORDS from MP TIN PEI LING to express my feelings.

    * I dunno wat to say*!

    From hawkers’ sons to PMEs n DOCTORS back to being HAWKERS?!

    THIS IS THE 3G/4G REAL KPI!

    OVER-RATED,OVER-PAID!
    VERY DISTURBING,NOT JUST disappointing…

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  • Dun Bluff Mi U Tink I 2pid?:

    Good jobs for “FT”
    NS, gig economy jobs, hard back-breaking Hawkerpreneurs for Sinkies!
    PAPpy Wan Sui!
    Hahaha

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  • Teh:

    Believe a not,1 lesson is how to advoid paying rent!…

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  • Jo Teo must be Jabbed:

    NUS should offer a PhD in Hawkery.

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  • Asd:

    I think soon diploma of toilet cleaning too

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  • xoxo:

    Hahaha! Soon your grannies need to go and STUDY TO GET A DIPLOMA FOR CARDBOARD COLLECTORS???

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  • Hawker Nation:

    Don’t let them fool you with glossy brochures and advertisements on TV and bus panels displaying smiling faces cooking and serving food. It is not as glamorous a life as they want you to believe. Parents do well to advise their children before they fall prey to propaganda, or soon you may hear them echo the former Minister, “You can’t eat a degree!” Better be a hawker! LOL! Can you see where this is leading to for the future of your children? Meanwhile, jobs in air-con comfort environment and good stable income are filled up by PRs and new citizens.

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  • GIG DIPLOMAS:

    ********************
    Diploma in HAWKERING
    ********************
    Diploma in Gardening
    Diploma in Janitoring
    Diploma in Cardboarding
    Diploma in Cancollecting
    Diploma in Condoguarding
    Diploma in Delivering
    Diploma in Grabbing
    Diploma in BitchyMassagong
    Diploma in Zumbaring
    Diploma in Yogaging
    Diploma in Socialescorting
    Diploma in Bartendering
    Diploma in Fastfooding

    ************************
    Diploma in RIBBONCUTTING
    ************************

    Please add to the list….

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  • THINK SERIOUSLY:

    NO gagment in the world , work to push their citizens and young people to become hawkers.
    PAP gagmt is the FIRST IN THE WORLD, a TOTAl failure in HELPING SINGAPOREANS ,TOTAL FAILURE TO CREATE GOOD AND VALUED JOBS FOR SINGAPOREANS.
    ALMOST ALL PMET JOBS ARE TAKEN BY FOREIGNERS….AT THE EXPENSE OF SINGAPOREANS…and blazenly allowed by PAP gagmt….
    THEY ONLY GIVE SLIP SERVICE TO HELP, NO PROPER LEGISLATIONS TO PREVENT EMPLOYERS FROM HIRING FOREIGEN PMET,…giving all sorts for justifications for their excuses.
    NO TRUE HELP FOR PMET JOBS FOR SINGAPOREANS IN JOBS.
    SO FAR HAVE ANY EMPLOYERS BEING JAILED for flouting employment laws with regards to illegally employing or manipuilating the systems for foreigners.
    PAP GAGMT have become self serving and for helping only their elites, the wealthy and powerful people ….rather than really helping the true SINGAPOREANS…this the perceptions from many SINGAPOREANS.
    SEE the ways and the refusal to stop the floods gates allowing thousands of foreigners to work here, given scholarships and grants at the expense of Singaporeans.
    SINGAPOREANS are paying taxes,levies for the gagmt to funds foreigners through scholarships, grants, and at the sane make it very difficult for Singaporeans to go local universities .
    IT is estimated about 50% of those studying at local universities are foreigners mostly funded by the gagmt.
    The 61% WHO VOTE FOR THE PAPPIES, your children,grandchildren WILL SOON OR LATER BECOME HAWKERS, TAXI DRIVERS, SECURITY STAFF, CLEANERS, SWEEPERS,DOING JIB ECONIOMY JOBS…..
    Is this u want??
    THINK, AND REFLECT HARD!!!
    DONT FALL FOR THEIR MSM PROPAGANDAS AND TWISTING OF FACTS,SLURRING IOF OPPOSTIONS BY MSM…..
    DO HAVE A MIND OR BRAIN TO THINK SERIOUSLY FOR YOUR CHILDREN FUTURE!!!

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  • General's club of hawkeyes:

    That’s when your schooling & scholarships didn’t quite amount to chivalry and sane governance over the people, feeling for the people, walking with the people. Just because emperor dowager certifies you in the cult ain’t no credence at all by universal ethical standards.

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  • Vaccine Fiasco:

    Future is Cloud Kitchen, not hawker center. A dying trade.

    Politicians may not know entreprenuership. They are just politicians who think they know.

    I also sense a Vaccine fiasco coming up because WHO not confident of the efficacy but some people are saying very good. Another U-turn cumming ?

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  • Elites screw Singaporeans:

    Once the OLD BASTARD said that if “Opposition parties were to be in power our women folks will be maids in neighbouring countries “
    The HARD TRUTH is if the reverse is true.If PAP is still in power our youth will all be hawkers, food delivery drivers, security guards and PHV drivers.All the good jobs will be taken over by FOREIGN TRASH who have questionable qualifications.SINGAPOREANS ARE ALREADY SECOND CLASS CITIZENS IN SINGAPORE.
    Why should our youth give two years of their lives protecting Singapore while these foreign ASS HOLES come and steal our lunches while our youth become hawkers!!!
    If PAP is still in power after the next elections the prediction old OLD BASTARD LKY a will become true.Our women folks will become maids in neighbouring countries and our men will be coolies.

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  • Harder Truths:

    xoxo:
    Hahaha! Soon your grannies need to go and STUDY TO GET A DIPLOMA FOR CARDBOARD COLLECTORS???

    LMAO – Akan Datang!

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  • Is it CECA:

    CECA ask Singapore open more and more and more jobs to India nationals but not enough so ask singaporean to take up hawkers so as to open job opportunities to Indians?

    It doesn’t matter the outcome is low productivity and quality because Singapore will always be the hub of south east Asia.

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  • Its how you twist it:

    Is it CECA:
    CECA ask Singapore open more and more and more jobs to India nationals but not enough so ask singaporean to take up hawkers so as to open job opportunities to Indians?

    It doesn’t matter the outcome is low productivity and quality because Singapore will always be the hub of south east Asia.

    The IRONY is some jobless Grads turned Hawkers their brains messed up by thinking they are so grateful to have become hawkers after all the degrees , certs, nearly 2 decades of schooling and years of corporate experience.

    Brainwashed zombies

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  • nathan chen:

    Thank you. Everybody here is very impressed with what you have written.

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  • IMF Diploma:

    IMF* Diploma syllabus:

    Prata flipping
    Rojak messing
    Toesay masaling
    Murstarbuck muttoning
    Soup cumbing
    Fishheadcurrying

    *IMF= Indian Muslim Food

    CMF Diploma

    Mee Siam Mai Hum
    Buck Coo Tay Mai Pork
    Mee Pok Mai Lard
    Laksa Oi Fun

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  • MOE Close Down:

    Should close down MOE, since they produce CMI people. Even aliens with dubious qualifications can get jobs.

    Pap has the mandate:
    Stinkaporeans have just screwed themselves, instead of moving up the ladders they are descending downwards, why waste your years in primary school, secondary school, ITE and Poly and then go and be a hawker, start early and work in the hawker from primary school. Wait, PAP Government is going to make mandatory to have degree or Poly dip to be the criteria for being a hawker…LOL Stinkaporeans remember you get what you voted for…lol..Stinkapreans are a bunch of yellow pansies and suckers.

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  • Wai:

    Singaopo has come full circle.

    Start out as a migrat place fill

    With hawkers.(Only this time it’s

    Round In different setting….

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  • Pinky is useless anyway:

    Singaporean core is becoming aware of their weakness, may start to vote against them. I think the white party believing that they need new citizens to control Singapore and its economy and giving them the votes required to rule forever.

    The white party already ran out of ideas to grow economy, so they decided to import more foreigners.

    In a way its two birds with one stone.

    You can see the difference they treat foreigners better than locals, even in crime sentencing, it is very obvious.

    Most foreigners, new citizens sing their praises.

    Anyway, its too late as foreigners already become a large portion of Singapore.

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  • Degree in Hawkery:

    I suggest how to save face for local uni.

    1. Grads no job become hawkers.
    How to sugarcoat the situation?
    Offer them or award then bachelor in Hawkery.
    This way, local uni can claim it’s their degree courses that brought employment to grads.

    I am not relating to creative accounting that sort of things. That would be politically incorrect. So why should I say what’s politically incorrect? Right?

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  • Ask for money back:

    MOE Close Down:
    Should close down MOE, since they produce CMI people. Even aliens with dubious qualifications can get jobs.

    After 13 years of MOE education, still have to train for one year to become a hawker. Because they are not qualified for anything better.

    Singaporeans should ask for their money back. No, should ask for substantial compensation for wasting their childhood and youth at MOE schools.

    Right or not? MOE ministers should just return their salaries. Wasting our young in 13 years of unhelpful education.

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