Let There Be Light (on the CECA)

Then God said: ‘Let there be Light …’  [LINK]

The recent debate on India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) is very confusing.  The confusion started with Progress Singapore Party (PSP) accepting a challenge to debate on the merits CECA.

For those who want to have an unbiased background understanding of what CECA actually entails, please refer to the following official documents.

Alternatively, the following links give a good summary of what CECA actually entails.

In any case, the debate arose because a significant number of Singaporean professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) lost their jobs over the last few years and some of them believe that the high influx of professionals from India had crowded out the locals in the employment markets. Some individuals even subscribed to conspiracy theories that the government was allowing Indians to achieve citizenry so as to gain their vote for the ruling party. In response, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) clarified that it is “misleading” to assert that the number of Indian PMEs is solely or largely due to CECA, even as Singaporeans are “understandably concerned” with competition from foreign professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) in light of the current bleak economy and employment situation.  It also refuted that “None of our free trade agreements, including CECA, obliges us to automatically grant Employment Passes to any foreign national.”  Additionally, “All foreign nationals applying for Employment Passes must meet our prevailing criteria, and all companies must comply with rules on fair hiring”.

Despite Government’s clarification on the matter, some netizens remain sceptical about the free trade agreement between Singapore and India.

Nonetheless, the government cautioned that the rejection of Indians (from India) amounts to racism. The first confusing issue is that while many Singaporeans supported Tharman Shammugaratnam to be the next Prime Minister, he was rejected on the basis that some segments of Singaporeans were not ready for a non-Chinese Singaporean.

So we have a very strange phenomenon.  Foreign Indians are welcomed into Singapore to fill in the roles of various Professional, Managerial and Executive jobs and Singaporeans should accept them as creating values for the country.  Rejection of these foreign Indians constitutes racism. However, we have to reject a local Indian from taking up the position of the Prime Minister because there are some Singaporeans who are not ready for a non-Chinese Prime Minister.  This is despite the fact that this local Indian has overwhelmingly won the hearts and support of the majority of Singaporeans. Before we even get into the discussion on CECA, perhaps some lights need to be shed in order to clarify why “the negative perception of CECA” constitutes racism whereas “the rejection of Tharman Shammugaratnam to be the next Prime Minister” does not constitute racism. Furthermore, we also note that the 2017 Presidential Election was specially reserved for Malays, even though the position was eventually filled by an individual whose Birth Certificate recorded “Indian” at the time of birth.  Notwithstanding the confusion that a person racial identity can apparently change over time, perhaps some lights can be shed to clarify exactly when race needs to be included as a criterion for job qualification and when the use of race constitutes racism.

The information given on the CECA debate is also confusing.

It is not clear why the year 2020 is used to gauge the growth of employment pass holders.  The Covid pandemic started in end 2019 and the number of employment pass holders is expected to decrease in 2020 because (a) some employment pass holders may return home, (b) there will be fewer numbers of new applicants and (c) some existing employment pass holders may obtain citizenship.  Indeed, the Ministry of Manpower website indicates that the number of employment pass holders drops from 193,700 in 2019 to 177,100 in 2020.  If the ratio of one quarter does not change materially from 2019 to 2020, does it means that there were about 48,000 (one quarter of 193,700) Indian employment pass holders in 2019, which was subsequently dropped to 44,000 (one quarter of 177,100) in 2020?

Furthermore, the Strait Times indicated that there were only 65,000 employment pass holders in 2005, out of which one-seventh are from India.  This translates to about 9,000 Indian employment pass holders in 2005.

Can some light be shed whether it is true that the number of Indian employment pass holders increased from 9,000 to 48,000 from 2005 to 2020, that is, a 5-fold increase over this period of time? Furthermore, the numbers of Singapore citizens are 3.081 million and 3.523 million in 2005 and 2020 respectively.  The percentages of Indians are relatively stable at around 9% over this period of time, that is, there are approximately 277,000 and 317,000 Indian Singapore citizens.  Given that the fertility rate of Singaporeans is less than 2 births per woman, the number of local Indians is not expected to increase from 2005 to 2020.  Can some light be shed that more than 317,000 – 277,000 = 40,000 Singapore citizenships were granted to Indians from India over the period from 2005 to 2020?

Furthermore, the government asserted that Indians do not have unfettered access into Singapore labour market and that applicants need to meet “stringent” qualifying requirements. But Indian has a population of about 1.392 billion people.  If we take the topmost 0.1th percentile of the Indian population, there are 1.392 million talents who can more than exceed the “stringent” qualifying requirements.  Can some lights be shed if this group of Indians has unfettered access into Singapore job market since they can easily meet the “stringent” qualifying requirements?  If only 10% of these highly talented Indians decide to work in Singapore, is Singapore obligated to employ these 139,000 highly qualified individuals based on the obligations as spelt out in the CECA?

Finally, the Indian government published its own figures and asserted that 650,000 Indians are working in Singapore.  The population of Singapore is approximately 5,585,000, out of which there are about 317,000 Indian Singapore citizens (9% of the total citizenship of 3.523 million).  Can some light be shed that the number of foreign Indians is about twice the number of Indian Singapore citizens (excluding PRs)?

I believe all these issues need to be clarified in order for Singaporeans to understand and appreciate the merits of the CECA debate.


Eastern Heretic




24 Responses to “Let There Be Light (on the CECA)”

  • Hide. Hide. Hide.:

    You don’t need to know. National security issue. Racial harmony issue.
    Just vote PAP can already. Every year, look forward to the $50 worth of $2 food vouchers.

    Remember LKY said it is best to be poor in Singapore. You want to be poor in India?

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  • Lie Con u eat shit:

    The idea that Singapore is not ready for an Indian PM that exsist in the PAP mind alone. They are saying that the older generation of Chinese will not except an Indian as PM. The old coot BASTARD LEE KAYU was the originator of such ideas. There ARE NO HARD FACTS TO SUPPORT THIS. The MOTHER FUCKER merely wanted his son to succeed him and to keep power within his party family and the majority Chinese.
    The son is singing the same song. It is SUCH A SHAME that after 56 years of nationhood an Indian cannot lead the country. Not that Indians do not have the ablity to be in political office and lead the country. Rajaratnum was our first foreign affairs minister and the writer of the pledge. The PAP has NEVER SEEN US AS ONE UNITED PEOPLE. It always see us as Chinese, Indians and Malays rather than as Singaporeans. It was ALWAYS DIVIDE AN RULE.

    The African Americans were brought into America as slaves and within 200 -300 years the have become free man and women and even held the highest office in the land. In Singapore FREE MAN and WOMAN CANNOT HOLD HIGH OFFICE IN THE LAND BECAUSE OF THE VIEWS OF A RACIST PARTY THE PAP.


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    I hope that something good will come out of the CECA debate accepted by PSP.

    The pappy govt has in place EIP for HDB flats allocation to avoid formation of race enclaves.

    It has used GRCs as “Trojan Horse” to their advantage during GE.

    Recently for the PE appointment the constitution was amended to have a Malay-only contest!

    I suggest the govt will also look into Ethnic Ratio in PMETs appointments & the Ethnic Proportion in the 5 CDC Districts viz NW, SW, NE, SE & Central so we can achieve a good racial integration mix among the working population in the whole of SG!

    What do you think of PMETs ERP Policy?

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  • The values of CECA:

    We need hard figures not just surface, vague talk only.

    Values of CECA Singapore investments in India: how much values generated – nett profits $$$ made in India since 2005?

    Values of CECA workers:
    1. What is private sector productivity in sectors dominated by CECA workers such as IT, banking/finance, construction, shipping building? What was it in 2015?

    2. What is prectange of CECA workers in every sector in 2005 and in 2020? Percentage of Singaporean under employed and unemployed who are in or used to be in IT, Banking/Finance, construction, shipbuilding, etc.

    3.How many jobs created by CECA companies in Singapore and how many went to Singaporeans? Same question for other countries such as China, US, Japan, EU, etc.

    4. How many Singaporean and precentage in HR and Job recruitment firms in 2005 and 2020? And how many for CECA workers.

    5. How many Singaporean made complaints difficult to find and switch jobs in 2005 and in 2018 to 2020? Especially in sectors dominated by CECA workers.

    If Singapore government really concern about Singaporean employment, the government should have such figures.

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  • The values of CECA:

    6. How many Singaporean went to work in India through CECA?

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  • Sinna(thamby)pore:

    Changi Park has already been renamed………I sure you know the name because a large number of Indians work there………for those uninitiated………the name is off course

    Chennai Park.

    What about Singapore…………would the name be changed as well……………to Chennaipore. Or Sinnapore……..sounds interesting.

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  • liew mun long must be jailed:

    when pap said Singapore needed a malay president and proceeded to appoint an INDIAN one, we knew pap is gone case.

    this is why it is not baffling at all when pap tried to elak the question on ceca. after all, it is a simple question. how many ceca ah nehs are allowed into small island via FTA.

    pap elak by attacking the questioner instead of answering the question. how does pap do the elak?

    well, pap says, if question ceca ah neh, it means against FTA.

    ffff. these so called 4G expensively educated at cotton sheep expense truly very bad with England.

    these pap folks cannot understand difference between too many ceca ah nehs admitted into small island with ceca FTA itself.

    ask any sane cotton sheep. if 1 or 2 ceca ah neh admitted into small island via ceca FTA, where got problem? sure no problem.

    but if 100,000 or 200,000 ceca ah nehs are admitted via ceca FTA, there is a problem.

    pap not only elaks the question. pap tells lies to cover up for the onslaught of ceca ah nehs by saying, ceca ah nehs create jobs for cotton sheep.

    ffff. we cut our dicks if ceca ah neh can create job for cotton sheep. anyone with a brain knows. if ceca ah neh so powderful o create jobs, they would have stayed in new delhi and made INDIA great. but it aint so.

    BTW, as an aside. Singapore is ready for an INDIAN prime minister just like it already has an INDIAN president.

    maybe a ceca ah neh can be prime minister in Singapore since pap 4Gs are trying to talk so high of ceca TFA and ceca ah nehs.

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  • Tremendous:

    Those from Indieland know the game. Look around at the condos and private properties in the village. Any ethnic controls for people from that land ? There were large groups gathering in condos for a while and the chiefs have not taken any action. The chiefs only want to handle public housing and leave the enclaves somewhere else.

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  • What The Fark?:

    Whatever Ong YK and Tan See Leng talked, the bottom line is why are there so many Indians from India working in Singapore that will affect the employment opportunities of Singaporeans ?

    Who allows them to come in such a large numbers ?

    For our investment of 61 Billions Dollars In INDIA, how much profits do PAP actually made from India and how does this profits if any help local Singaporeans ?

    Looks like our PAP leaders are too arrogant and proud to admit their mistakes .

    The only way out for Singaporeans is to vote the PAP out in the next Election. Chow Chee Bye

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  • Asd:

    I think the racisism employment should be look into by the garbagement

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  • Asd:

    I think it is racist that a president must be a malay and not any other race

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  • Are we sure?:

    First, the ‘gold standard’ Indian IT talents are working in Wall Street, Silicon Valley, NASA. Chennai Park, other zones, are for second tier and the rest.
    Second, even more important, does our Immigration and MOM take their qualifications at face value and my word is my honour? Any sit-down exams to test their true IT and other work competency?
    Those of us who work with them, know the answer only too well.

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  • xoxo:

    The farking striking fact is there is NO CECA-FT MINISTER TO REPLACE DAFT ONES LIKE OYK OR TSL???


    CECA-FTs will bring in CECA-COVID here for sure!

    The PAP GAHMEN are beyond hope.
    They are not only becoming more thick-$kinned( as admitted by their LEEder),they are becoming MORE IDIOTIC IN AN ARROGANT WAY!!

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  • oxygen:

    TAKE A LOOK AT THE MACROECONOMIC NUMBERS – LEE-jiapore GDP growth numbers average around 2% to 2.5% annually WITH CECA and housing/urbanisation and infrastructural spending stimulus (Changi Jewel, Changi Airport T5, MRTs construction comes to mind).

    If we take out housing/urbanisation/infrastructural spending impact, our economy probably grew at 0% to 0.5% range annually MAYBE EVEN IN THE NEGATIVE GROWTH TRAJECTORY.

    So the net effect of positive GDP growth, income and employment naturally of CECA in LEE-jiapore is – I would argue – NIL TO NEGATIVE at best or incrementally insignificant of seeing our economy sinking repeatedly into negative growth rate.

    The EXTERNAL ECONOMIES hoped-for impact has no visible achievement. How much of the Indian economy is really opened to Singapore’s investment (if viable of hoped for gain or tolerable of risks endangerment)? I confess I don’t know or know where to discover those statistics which the PSP-PAP debate should have ventured onto but did not.

    Among the biggest/bigger listed entities, I haven’t seen any venturing into the Indian economic landscape except perhaps Singtel’s modest adventure.

    India is a very hard place for capital investment – their corrupt bureaucracies is endless doors leading to endless doors of no end (and that means no outcome of constructive beneficial outcome bargained for in exchange). Unlike China, India’s infrastructure is ANCIENT AND ALMOST DILAPIDATED TO CRUMBLING COLLAPSE (just walk its big cities and watch its electrical cable wiring of twisted entanglement, no upgrade for decades). How to export manufactured goods from “ancient” ports?

    One petite Chinese lady mining engineer told me this – if you want to bring wealth to any community – particularly remote community – BUILD THE INFRASTRUCTURE FIRST TO THOSE COMMUNITIES to facilitate trade movements and human interaction.

    INDIA DID NONE OF THIS (China did) – LEE-jiapore walked in stupid and blind of basic economic logic and senses.

    THERE IS ONLY ONE GAINERS CROWD in CECA – Indian nationals displacing PMET employment in LEE-jiapore, cheaper, maybe faster but no better. This erosion will continue.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Hide. Hide. Hide.:


    Remember LKY said it is best to be poor in Singapore. You want to be poor in India?

    Exactly … exactly…

    The poor in India eat mud and live in unclean cow dung house, no clean water and have no government assistance.

    The poor in Singapore eat mee rebus and live in clean HDB flat, have clean water and have our great PAP government to help them.

    No one is left behind except the lazy and unmotivated.

    This is the hard truth and irrefutable facts.

    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$

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  • Temusik Patriot:

    VERY WELL researched contribution CONSIDER more of such instead of The CON CONtribution by dogs let loose to Bark on orders

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  • Smart Nation:

    CECA creates jobs for Indians in SG and in India. How many local Singaporeans are working in India through CECA as compared to the number CECA Indians in SG? India will continue to pressure for more to be sent here. Banking, IT, nursing and what next? Maybe it wants to swarm this island with its people. What is the PAP going to do about it?

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  • Observer:

    Singapore should prioritize Singaporeans over Indians for good careers and business deals. Have you seen India give any good deal to Singaporeans?

    If Indians make any unsubstantiated name-calling, remember that Indians created the swastika, & America is against swastika.

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  • opposition dude:

    All that needs to be said after the parliamentary debate is that PAP is, as usual, bullshitting. The numbers of S and E pass holders may have declined but it was not revealed how many of these clowns were converted into citizens. So when you see a hugh number of them all over the island you won’t know who is and isn’t a converted new citizen since they all look the same.

    And for the racism part, PAP has truly sunk to a new low. They can’t even debate properly and start branding other parties as racist and citizens as xenophobic. It’s a good thing that PAP continues to behave this way because we cannot have enough reasons to view them negatively.

    What goes around comes around and this will catch up with PAP in 2025 on the 10th anniversary of their founder. Let’s see if sympathy votes play a part this time.

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  • Wrong Direction:

    Singapore has no great thinker to guide its direction.

    Current “leaders” are short term profit oriented managers. Companies need workers? Ok, let’s import as many as they need. This is an endless process. Learn from the history of Australian

    They don’t have a long term plan for Singaporeans.

    CECA is only a part of our problem. Mass importation of workers to satisfy companies and PARTY is the main problem.

    Australia still suffering critical skilled worker shortages despite decades of mass immigration. )

    It has taken quite a while. But Reserve Bank governor Phil Lowe set himself on a collision course last week with big business and sections of the federal government by stating the bleeding obvious.

    And that is, Australia has used immigration as a means for keeping the cost of labour subdued. Not that Dr Lowe put it so bluntly. But he made the point repeatedly that adding to the supply of workers keeps wages low.

    It’s pretty basic economics, really.

    For years now, one of the key factors undermining our economic performance has been low wages growth.

    Economists love to call it anything but what it is. They’ll talk about underutilisation or excess capacity. But the graph below says it all.

    But whenever wages start to rise, the calls to bring in more workers start immediately.

    Interestingly, those making the most noise now are the ones who have benefitted the most from a constant influx of tourists, students and temporary workers.

    The flood of overseas workers, particularly in hospitality, has left many with barely enough work upon which to survive. And it has opened the door to exploitation and wages theft on a grand scale.

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  • Measures:

    The true measures of any policy is how it affect its Citizens.
    Does it create more meaningful jobs for its Citizen.
    If yes,it is a good policy.
    If it create underemployment,underpay and loss of jobs for our Senior PMETs ,it is bad policy and need to be replaced.

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  • Australia lesson:

    Here’s more.

    “You’ve no doubt heard the grand visions: “This government will create a million new jobs over the next five years.”

    And, bingo, just like that, it happens.

    The thing is, when you are adding a million people over five years, you need to have a million extra jobs just to keep your head above water.

    And the problem is that many of the new arrivals end up working part-time, in lower-paid jobs and in occupations that require far fewer skills than they possess. Doctors and engineers end up as Uber drivers. ”

    What’s even worse for Singapore? Horror. Sg PMET end up as Uber drivers. Their jobs taken by immigrants.

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  • clowns are clowns:

    Remember who said this?
    “Singapore now competes in a global economy. In such an economy, importing cheap foreign labour is no longer a viable strategy, it’s a DEAD end.
    Singapore has lost more than 2 decades relying on low-wage skilled foreign lobour to drive the economic growth”…..Ngiam Tong Dow

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  • oxygen:

    @ clowns are clowns:

    YES, my perspective too. CECA-FTA is a detour and distraction from a collapsing failed economic model.

    It was signed in moment of desperation of PAPpynomic’s comic asset enhancement politics of seat-warmer era (bubble up asset pricing to give an impression of an increasing affluent society when the real impact of that the runaway HDB prices actually transfer wealth from the poor to the rich).

    Remember PAPpypolitics election platform in 2011 – waterfront public housing in Ponggol and promise of water canal from Bishan GRC to the open sea for canoeing to more P*nis-on-Duxton upper class public housing option etc etc)

    Everything is hocus pocus economics!!

    clowns are clowns: Remember who said this?
    “Singapore now competes in a global economy. In such an economy, importing cheap foreign labour is no longer a viable strategy, it’s a DEAD end.
    Singapore has lost more than 2 decades relying on low-wage skilled foreign lobour to drive the economic growth”…..Ngiam Tong Dow


    A wreckage of rising pile of crumbled debris on the economic landscape of defeated and distressed PMETs dumped (but most of them stupidly voted for PAPpypolitics/PAPpynomics in 2011 election then, a lot deserves what they got today).

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