July 27, 2021

32 thoughts on “Singapore PMETs suffer in their jobs (Real life examples here)! Is this the main reason why PAP has one of the worst performances in this year SG General Election?

  1. Thank for writing Rolf.

    Sombre reality.

    Be the change we want to see. Change the environment, or perhaps change ourselves.

    It is alwaysconvenient to have someone to blame for our problems. Yet, complaining in hope of having someone else to solve our problems isn't going to be in time.

    The frog is going to be cooked alive in the boiling water before anyone comes along.

    1. Dear Kevin,

      Thanks for dropping by. Do you remember Guinness Stout HK actor George Lam advertisement in the 90s?

    2. (Un)fortunately, I'm old enough to remember that commercial haha! Yes, one particular ad that touched on changing the environment 😀

  2. Even if opposition got over 60% and formed the govt, don't expect a drastic cut to s-pass & e-pass numbers. At best it will be a gradual scale back that will take a few years. And in the meantime, many citizens will still be left jobless & retrenched.

    The ball is still in our court to have situational awareness to take early corrective actions. Sometimes if there aren't good options, this action may be to completely change industry & suck up a big pay cut to start from bottom.

    With this 61% win, just like back in 2011, many MNCs & foreign chambers of commerce will have been busy since early Sat to reach out to senior civil servants in MTI, EDB etc as well as senior figures in PAP for clarification & commitment to continuous pro-biz policies.

    1. Actually the SP and EP had already been cut, and/or MOM had toughened the laws in recent times. End last year, for some reason, we need to hire a EP foreigner from Western-HQ because of the niche knowledge, he had. My HR is required to submit many documents to prove we also opened the position to Singaporeans, but the resume of Singaporeans are unable/not suitable to do the job. Even then, it was not approved. Eventually, we have to step in to write a more detail/convincing letter, before it was finally approved. I also expect MOM to not renew another SP employee in my company once expired.

      Frankly, in my co/industry/extremely far location, we need SP employees for certain jobs. We tried to hire locals, but no one wanted to apply. Those who got into the job left after a few months.

      Yes, agree that jobs retrenchments and pay cuts are inevitable and the ball is in our own court. But I know of many companies who save EP jobs to cut locals!

  3. The government will say we can not have this company at all, then the Singaporean will have no job at all (be it low class or not). What I think the government should have done, is acknowledge that there is this problem and they will revise CECA agreement etc, but they dont dare to do that, they would rather risk angering Singaporeans than India. I think that is what made some people angry. The truth is people will continue to come to Singapore and with or without any CECA agreement adjustment.

    1. Dear Gosuikeng,

      Thanks for dropping by. This kind of company existed here for many years, especially in my industry. You cannot change them overnight by firing all the higher management. I also told my friend not much of a choice that if he choose to stay in the company and focus on other benefits his company offered, that is very lucrative such as business-class travel, and benefits if you resign (not retrench).

      But what Govt can do (which they are doing now, and fine tune it to make it stricter), is to make hiring of foreigners more difficult if there are Singaporeans who apply for the job.

      I thought CECA does not allow firms to hire Indian professionals in Singapore without valid work passes, or without adhering to fair employment guidelines! Hence it is does not really relates relevantly to this issue, in opposed to what many think.

      It is the bilateral FTA that we are interested with India.



    2. The problem here is that the mentality of the bosses and no a problem with the government.If this is a persistent problem for the whole industry then your friend then change his career path. He can not expect life to deal him a good of of cards all the time.

    3. He is mid 40s, spent his whole life in the same trade, with parents and children to take of.
      Govt is not entirely at fault but the policy allowing loosely FT to come in is still questionable?

      You need to be in that person’s shoe to understand!

      Actually, I myself are in the same industry, and I do make plans for my second career already. But everyone is different but I still empathize because I had seen and experience.

  4. In 1997/1998 AFC, there was no FTs in my company in those days; older folks near 55 were retrenched. Older and higher paid workers are seen by HR as better cost cutting tool unless our bosses can put up strong justification to retain us.

    Employees as cost cutting measures for companies to survive will always happen in the future. We will have to make hay while Sun shines and prepare for the worst Winter to hit us.

    1. Yes CW, it is inevitable and happen in everywhere even if we do not have FTs.

      But my friend lamented to me that at least it is folks near to 55 who are retrenched. Now S'poreans in their early 40s/50s are retrenched at the expense of FT.

      In 1997/98, cost of living is lower with lower HDB pricing and higher CPF. Now, imagine you are early 40s and retrenched instead of FT. The feeling is soured.

      Although it is not me, but I can empathise many of my friends.

  5. this post resonates quite well with me. i have always had foreign bosses. my colleagues are also always foreigners, and the of the rank and file workers, will mostly be the locals of that particular country or of a certain North Asian country of origin (the only reason being coz they are on local packages, and have local content to fulfill)

    you always see the ang mohs have promotion every year or so. they have extremely good PR skills, and they can upsell themself very well. how many a times have you seen them with only vocational cert or high school educational or even fast food working experience? being promoted to managerial roles? (i dont want to make a sweeping statement , but yes, i have seen the odd one or two. who completely deserves the promotion)

    wage cutting is always the first move, the results are almost immediate, and reflects very well on the books. been thru it 3x times. the cut is fast and hard, and usually to get back to status quo, will be long and ardous. (similar to our petrol price =)

    1. Dear bro FC,

      Hope you make your voice counts during the voting. I can TRULY FULLY empathise it, because I come from the environment that they always want to promote the FTs and have seen many unjust incidents myself.

      While many people argued that we have to take charge of our own career destiny, and not blame the policies for everything, I kind of agree. BUT I also disagree.

      Most of the people who commented have NOT themselves in the situation as my friend or with yourself or like myself seeing them. HENCE, it is always easier said than done when you are NOT in the situation.

      Singaporeans studied really hard to go through local UNI which are not really easy to graduate comparatively to many overseas one! Not to mention the extra 2-2.5 years of SAF! Then we were thrown into an environment where there are UNLEVEL playing grounds.

      I had travelled widely and have many foreign friends overseas. If we compared to SEA countries, of course SG is better.

      But, how about Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands etc. I have colleagues/friends from these countries. These countries like SG have limited resources and small populations. But they can produce world class companies with world class products. And I can vouch that they have VERY STRICT LABOUR LAWS to PROTECT their OWN CITIZENS.

    2. hey brolf (wow, i just made this up, while i was typing bro+rolf. haha)

      scandi countries are extremely well knnown for their pro-work/life balance, pro-citizen, pro-familay culture. where else can you find 2 on / 4 off rotation? i'm sure you know where i talking about.

      yea, i did try to make it count. but alas, he didnt win.

    3. Bro FC, haha, brolf sounds nice. 🙂

      Yes, I have many frds from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands. Aside from Norway, most of these countries have little resources except human resources, but they are very productive. These countries are also small in population and also have most local people and yet, they are doing extremely well in the world stage.

      Unfortunately, most SG are not exposed to them and always compared ourselves with South East Asian developing countries.

      Thanks for making it count, most Singaporeans are still in the blossom of Govt jobs, and SG driven companies and do not understand the pain of PMETs in foreign-owned private sectors here.

  6. I come from industry with 90% foreigner colleagues & bosses. But unlike your industry, mine didn't have business class travel (in fact no travel at all) and no big bonuses (2.5 mths bonus considered very good already).

    So I didn't take charge of my career. I took charge of my life. Conscious decision not to have children in agreement with spouse, commitment to be financially independent & break free of the system, live a modest life (low cost non-mature BTO, no car, budget airlines), maximise savings and investments.

    When the chop came when I was 45, I was more than ready. Even though the investment income is more than enough for both of us for buffets & travel lifestyle, plus helping with elderly parents, spouse is continuing her job for the moment as it is quite relaxed & colleagues/bosses are nice.

    I often wished I had gone into industry with nice personnel like my wife's, but if that were so probably there won't be push factor to make us become FI in our early 40s.

    1. Thanks for sharing.

      Biz class travel had extinct and I do not have myself irregardless of how senior position you are in our industries nowadays. But my friends’ company is one of the exception but only when travel exceeds 8 or 10 hours. And you can convert back to Economy and cash out the difference. As long as you are engineer or executive, you have this entitlement.

      As for bonuses, I cannot remember anymore ever since after 2008 for me.. hahaha..

      Hmm… while I respect your decision not to have children, it is really personal. And really to each his own. I had 4 myself and also foster another 4. If my children are all grown up, I do not mind adopting more.

      It is always a trade off. For the money you save and so called FI, the cries and joy of seeing your children grown up. But again it is something personal and we must respect and empathize different situations of each family.

      As for savings, I am frugal myself, but instead of saving, I prefer to grow my income! Again that is a personal choice.

      Because if I have higher income, my portfolio can accelerate over the years. Even if the career chop come, I can easily scale down my costs and lifestyle and yet still have a larger income, not just to sustain my lifestyle but to do many other things.

      Anyway, I had written my backup plan when chop come. In fact I plan/written that already in 2009, 2012 and blog in 2015. And also recently…


      Once again, thanks for dropping by.

  7. Agree with the author. I was a victim of the fuckup policy a few years ago. As the saying goes, once we see a cockcroach, over time we will see an army. They will bring their whole village here like in my high tech industry. Now the co has only 1 singaporean left, my senior engineer. They deserve to lose the election not just lower votes, for coming out with fanciful excuses to cover their screwup policies. And some bullshit scheme to help us find jobs. Every quarter end, you get call to ask if you have found a job but never recommend a decent job that dont cut the cut by 80%. Or ask you to be security guard. One can earn more with Grab, never mind if one has postgraduate degrees from Asia's top uni or 1st Class Honours if can lower the dignity. Can't compete with 3rd world or fake degrees. One needs to be at the dark side before one can understand the shit thats going on in the dark side. The result in the new GRC is very telling.

    1. Hi there, thanks for dropping by. I am glad you drop by to give a more balance comments as someone who experienced the pain. Even though I am not one of the FULL victims, I felt the pain for many Singaporeans working in the private sectors, and I truly empathised, and always coerced my HR to consider S’poreans first.

      The crockroach story is well described. Hahaha.

      Many others who worked in government sectors or Singaporean or Temasek owned- companies do not know, and tend to comment base on what they think broadly that is good for SG, and neglect those who suffered.

      We S’poreans work hard to go to local universities which has high barriers of entry from JC or Poly, and male still need to go to NS and Reservist, yet, many times, I saw promotion or job opportunities fallen unfairly into the hands of FT who, you are right, with 3rd world or fake degrees, which I had seen in so many resumes. Yet, their last drawn salary is always higher than Singaporeans! I am truly saddened by this fact.

      As per my above comments, most S’poreans always compare us to developing countries in SEA or India and said we are much better. Yes, SG is good, but we can be better.

      I had travelled worldwide and seen many countries or have friends in such countries such as Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands etc. Apart from Norway, most of these countries have little natural resources but have good government policy to ensure work-life balance. And also they are very very stringent when it comes to ‘THEIR CITIZEN COMES FIRST!”

  8. Good article. The truth is that given a Singaporean or a South Asian, most will hire the South Asian. Cheaper, works harder, doesn't complain. Best defense is achieving FI as soon as possible.

    1. Hi FI35, thanks for dropping by. Hope you are staying healthy. Not sure how much you know about the private sector where there are swarm of south Asian. In fact, your comments of cheaper, work harder and doesnt complain only applies to the lower salary one.

      Most FT from S.A. are very highly paid at managerial level. Personally I seen all of them having higher salary than S'poreans and once they reach managerial level, they will start to slack and use "political skills" more than productivity or being genuine to the company as compared to SG.

      Personally I have the privilege of managing them luckily.

      It is only perspective that achieving FI is the best defense. I personally do not agree to it although I respect many of bloggers here.

      This is because if everyone in the country just think about being FI early, and most of those who FI early have lesser children or none. This will mean, SG as a country will age faster, lesser population and more younger people who are able to work, are not working, and being FI early if you are very frugal also mean less spending.

      Therefore while FI early is good for individual and or individual wife or small family, most of times, it is very bad for the country.

      I love Singapore. This is my country, where I grown up, have my education, went through NS, completed my reservist and working for close to 2 decades.

      This is also the country where my 4 children grown up. Therefore, I will like to see Singapore prosper.

      If only me or my family is good, and I do not contribute more to the nation, what good are there?

      It is just like being in a company. If employees are always thinking of self-interest more than overall company interest, eventually the company will go downhill.

      This is just my opinion, and thinking. And i am glad to see more opposition Singaporeans volunteering even when their chances of winning are slim, compared to the effort they put in. And not just that, even as an opposition MP with the 16 over K salary, you can face lawsuits and tonnes of problems managing the town council. BUT WHY DID THEY DO IT? For personal financial gains, or they love Singapore as their home?

      I am not saying that PAP is not good. I am quite neutral here and will support whoever who love and do the most for the country I love.

  9. Hi Rolf,

    Thanks for sharing. In my previous workplace (global MNC, HQ SG), the entire management team (about 10) in SG are foreigners on expat package, including my boss.

    Operational staffs are mostly SG/ PR and IT staffs are mostly Indians (facts). I (singaporean) was there for 3 years.

    During my stint, they will usually have overseas office folks coming to SG (HQ) for tour and meetings. It is clear that those folks, mostly from European countries, are more vocal and are equipped with "yes, we can do this" attitude. They are more optimistic and suggestive during meetings unlike our SG peers that are quieter and only whines after the meetings. From the meetings/day-to-day exchanges, it is clear that FT has more to provide compared to our SG peers albeit this might not be the case during the real course of work (e.g. the quality of work render etc.). But from the Bosses perspective, they have already scored high points.

    From the exchanges, I started to learn from them and always provide alternatives proposals to my bosses etc. to make myself more visible to the management team. Personally, I have grown and was also promoted within 2 years period.

    If we can't change our environment, I am sure we can change ourselves. This is by no means saying that global MNC should continue hiring FTs but if we can shine internally, I am sure we as Singaporean will be given the opportunity.


    1. Hi, I agree to you for the most part, as i told Kevin in the first post about HK actor/singer George Lam advertisement of Guiness stout. If you are late 20s, I do not think you know about the at advertisement. you can go google it.

      I had the privilege myself of several experiences in the executive level of global MNC located in SG from few hundreds employees here to less than 50 to just me (start up for them).

      Your example of Westerner Expat management and Indian IT staff are examples of many co. But not all!

      With my friends or my experience, or the post above, it is with South Asian holding Top management position. Ok, this is fine, since they climb their way up there. But once they are up there with very high salary. Trust me…. definitely higher than many Singaporeans, since I know their salary, then they will unfairly only promote and hire the people of their same country of origins.

      I am afraid even if you learn to be more vocal or offer alternative good proposals or solution, you will not get your promotion.

      I hope that you will not encounter such companies one day, then you will know what I mean.

      But frankly, because of my job with diversified industry experiences, I really meet many Singaporeans who told me their frustrations.

      Hence, I doubted your last paragraph, because maybe you have only experience one or two companies.

      I had the privilege/experiences of managing HOD who are south asians with high salary. They are younger in age, and have lousier degree, but very very much higher than Singaporeans who are even holding masters.

      When it comes to hiring, all the resumes I received are all from their country of origin. I rejected and forced them to hire local Singaporeans.

      Then within less than few months time, the local Singaporean will leave, and the HOD will use all the reasoning to tell me how lazy and bad the local Singaporeans are.

      Hmmmm….. I know it is not true because I grown up here. Imagine I am Ang Moh westerners, I will definitely trust my HOD and hence have a hating towards local Singaporeans.

      Lastly, once again, I hope you do not encounter such company in your 30s when you are setting up your family. It will be dreadful….

      All the best to your career or FI plan. Cheers.

  10. Browsed the stories shared above… from 8 yr of working in financial services i don't think i've seen such overt "bullying" of singaporeans in the workforce… although I gotta say it's true that most singaporeans (and maybe asians in general?) are less vocal vs ang moh/banana counterparts.

    I myself have been passed on for promotion likely because of lacking showmanship vs some colleagues, but somewhat considered as valuable by management due to my technical knowledge (as the case with most quiet Asians in my coy) and in the face of high staff turnover.

    Something I've learnt in my short career thus far is to try not to being insular (letting expertise in niche/field get to one's head) & having measured/tempered responses to even the most ridiculous things.

  11. Hi, the incident above is not from Financial services.

    And to be honest, sometimes it’s not fair to use our one experience to justify. After it just happen to be the company we are in and based on our yrs of experience.

    unless you have wide scope of friends in different industries or your job allows you to travel widely in Singapore visiting many companies and knowing many people, and even so, it’s not easy unless the people have good relationships with u and is willing to share troubles w u, otherwise u will not know.

    And the problem is if u do not know, it does not mean it does not exist.

    For eg if I work 30 yrs as a teacher, how I am suppose to know. Or if I worked in a financial service which are local boss dominated, or ang moh boss dominated u may not know this as well.

    I personally also rec email citing this truth.

    That said, personally I have worked in a foreign MNC companies for more than 15 yrs, I have not encounter that myself, but one thing I know maybe many of my Singaporeans colleagues do not know in companies I worked for, is that many foreign PR or foreigners turned Sg has higher salary than them.

    But the Singaporeans does not know because they do not know the salary or cannot have access to the salary like I do.

    Of course, I will not tell them either due to professionalism. So sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.

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  16. I m Sporean in my 50s, a PMET retrenched last year, had worked in local SMEs, GLC, MNCs & currently Self-Employed in my 33+ years of working life. Some truths in many comments from people from all walks of working life, & many boomers like myself have experienced many global crisis & changes in Spore growth story throughout the years. None had more adverse wide-ranging impact than now on working youngsters, mid-lifers & boomers. To put context into current situation, Spore growth story is Different from Korea, Taiwan, HK & China, as a Tiny city-state was/is built almost entirely from FDIs with PAP govt policies, given that Spore is a tiny red-dot, no hinter-land, population or domestic market. So, here we are today feeling the max. effects of unprecedented global pandemic being the world most open economy, most dependent on FDIs, best airport, most connected,….list goes on but its a double-edge sword. Shouldn't be a surprise that Spore hiring culture & employment practises for past 6 decades are more skewed towards foreigners than any other Asian dragons/tigers, given it's growth history. Because of past glory, PAP govt has NOT paid much attention to grow our own SMEs, instead focus on GLCs which are often run by book-smart scholars with cushy seats at the top, no market experience, hired FTs hence the results of what we have today. Times change & what was successful in the past starting to look more like liabilities in today's bad situation. No point to compare with developed Europe/USA/Japan or even emerging Korea/China as Spore still a tiny-red dot, city-state, need to re-evaluate & find the next growth story that's more inclusive of local developments, more like Israel as we now already have a good foundation to reduce dependence on FDIs, FTs.

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