include("cmp.php");

Business associations

Business associations, like the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), the Singapore branches of the American Chamber of Commerce and the European Chamber of Commerce – although always low key and out of the spotlight, nonetheless exert overwhelming influence on our government and society. Many government policies are initiated by them, but fronted by the government thus taking the heat as well as the credit, while businesses represented by the associations benefit quietly in the background. We overlook their impact on society at our own peril.

The opening of the newly renovated SCCCI building on 10th September was officiated by PM Lee himself, no less, with DPM Lawrence Wong and Manpower Minister Tan See Leng in tow. Not many local associations can get such high officialdom to cut a mere ribbon. During the customary speeches, DPM Wong inadvertently highlighted that “the Chamber worked with the authorities to help shape Singapore’s covid pandemic response measures”. The final measures included the Job Support Scheme, waiver of tax, rental, and foreign worker levy, loans for businesses partially guaranteed by the government and other goodies that cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars but benefited the chamber’s 40,000 plus members.

Did the government consult the people or any worker before it crafted the pandemic response? The Straits Times couldn’t find any to report.

As a measure of how powerful these associations are, shortly after then-finance minister-cum-DPM, Heng Swee Kiat, announced the first pandemic budget of $6.4B, a poll conducted by the Singapore Business Federation showed that businesses found the pandemic budget woefully inadequate and hoped for a second, which should be as large, if not larger than the first, preferably within a month. True enough, within a month, Mr Heng announced a second budget worth almost 8 times as much as the first!

One may think that the government assistance for businesses was a one-off due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, it is not true. Businesses often bring to bear their wishes, made infinitely more powerful by the collective voice of their associations, on the government.

In May, the SBF published a policy paper entitled “Concerted Actions Needed to Support Manpower Needs of Services Industries”. It called for the “expansion of Non-Traditional Source (NTS) Occupation List for Work Permit holders, and diversification of NTS countries. With the shrinking pool of new entrant Singaporeans willing to work in these sectors every year, foreign manpower supplements are necessary to meet the demands for such services…”. Less than a month later, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong announced that “more migrant workers …… will soon be allowed to enter Singapore to work …. This will ease the immense pressures our companies have been under since the start of the pandemic”, and in August, Mr Tan See Leng announced “enhancements” to the work pass framework that will make it easier for businesses to employ foreigners.

When the new Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass (ONE Pass) to attract top talent who earn in excess of $30,000 per month was launched recently, both the chief executives of the Singapore branches of the American Chamber of Commerce and European Chamber of Commerce were very enthusiastic. The former, Dr Lei Hsien-Hsien, said that it will appeal to “fields like data science and vaccine development …. and agri-tech”, while the latter, Mr Federico Donato, said “it could help attract talent in fields such as digital technology and sustainability”. Did their members, which include the likes of Google, PayPal, Abbot, Johnson and Johnson, Citi, Siemens, Airbus, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, pushed for these schemes through the collective voice of the Chambers?

Clearly, the government hears the voice of business, especially the bigger ones, loud and clear, often times via regular meetings between the apex trade associations and the government. What about the voice of workers? They have the NTUC to represent them. Unfortunately, it is helmed by the government. These high ranking government officers do not have the same wishes and desires of workers. The former wishes for compliance and discipline while the latter for higher pay and less competition for his job – in direct opposition to the wishes of business owners and employers.

The parties in this tripartite pact do not have a win-win-win alliance, but rather big business and government win, but workers lose big time because they do not have a collective voice. Such an arrangement is not sustainable because the voice of workers to counterbalance the wishes of business is absent, and the longer it goes on, the more severe the consequences – real wages will stagnate or become lower, crowdedness and cost of living will increase, social and family problems will multiply. The logical solution is that the NTUC and all its subsidiary unions should be helmed by workers themselves, but the process is extremely difficult because there isn’t any political will. But try, we must.

 

Foong Swee Fong

 

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

8 Responses to “Business associations”

  • Harder Truths:

    ″Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who establishes its laws.″.

    -Mayer Amschel Rothschild

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • xoxo:

    Tripartite in practice is actually Help Rich (businesses) n POWERFUL(G) make more $ by enslaving the *silenced* SHEEPLE.

    That is what it is in truth.
    The RICH GETS RICHER,THE POWERFUL GETS MORE POWERFUL N THE SHEEPLE GETS SLAUGHTERED.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Observer:

    Singapore should distinguish between Global MNCs that bring global business to Singapore (Google, Facebook, Amazon), from the foreign business service providers that merely compete for business service opportunities in Singapore.

    Hope Global Investors can help Christian-led Singapore companies sell globally.

    Abraham does not want to be represented by three-headed, four-armed statues.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Observer:
    Singapore should distinguish between Global MNCs that bring global business to Singapore (Google, Facebook, Amazon), from the foreign business service providers that merely compete for business service opportunities in Singapore.

    Hope Global Investors can help Christian-led Singapore companies sell globally.

    Abraham does not want to be represented by three-headed, four-armed statues.

    Yes, Christian are all angels..Thou Shall NOT Steal.

    So will you christians demand that all treasure stolen by your Christian Queen return it to their rightful owners ?

    Oh, and will you christians demand that your Americunt In Dollars We Trust to return Afghan monies that Americunt steal ?

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/feb/16/afghanistan-money-biden-white-hosue-us

    Be a good boy.. listen to what your papa say..

    Pope: the West has gone down the wrong path and is not a role model
    https://spzh.news/en/news/90673-zapad-poshel-po-lozhnomu-puti-i-ne-javlyajetsya-primerom-dlya-podrazhanija–papa

    Oh… I forgot. Bible had different version and different interpretation of it too.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Worker rights:

    Just hope that the benefits enjoy by the companies will benefit the workers also.
    NTUC should ensure that.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • NotMyProblem:

    All these chambers of commerce exist long ago, why only now our government is led by its nose by these chambers?

    I remember these chambers listened to the government in the past, which benefitted the workers but now the PAP is led by its nose. Now only the members of the various chambers and the government benefit.

    WTF!!!

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Hahahahahahahaha…what a messy DisUnited States of America.

    Republican state-funded program to bus migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ D.C. residence.
    https://www.texastribune.org/2022/09/15/greg-abbott-texas-kamala-harris-migrant-bus/

    What say you, Ang Mo c0ck sucker ?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Work Slaves:

    They will proudly announce $20 pay increase, starting 5 yrs later.

    A Blur one here claims he’s scheming for worker benefits.But he’s busy doing this:

    Singaporeans R Free Riders: Ang Mo c0ck sucker

    Worker rights:
    Just hope that the benefits enjoy by the companies will benefit the workers also.
    NTUC should ensure that.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...

Leave a Reply

 characters available


Scroll Down For More Interesting Stuff


Member Services
Self-SupportMembers LoginSelf-Support
Sponsored Advertisement
Search On TR Emeritus
Sponsored Advertisement
Announcement
Advertisements
Visitors Statistic
Latest Statistic

UA-67043412-1