BUSINESS OWNERS: WE CAN’T FIND SINGAPOREANS TO WORK FOR US

On Tuesday night (19 May), Mediacorp Channel 5 telecast a talk show, “Let’s Think About It”. One of things discussed in the show was about Singaporeans being choosy over jobs.

Five people were invited to share their views and stories with Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, with regard to their manpower concerns in Singapore. The 5 people invited were:

Michelle Saram – Restaurant owner, Dim Joy and Tiffin Club
Nachiappan R K Sinniah – Union leader of Union of Power & Gas Employees
Liak Teng Lit – Chairman of NEA and Group CEO of Alexandra Health System
Janice Wong – Pastry Chef and Restaurant owner
Loh Lik Peng – Restaurant owner
Following is the video of the talk show: http://video.toggle.sg/en/series/let-s-think-about-it/ep2/331179

All except Mr Nachiappan were complaining about the difficulties of getting Singaporeans to work and their choosiness.

Janice Wong, complained that she can’t get Singaporeans to work at weekends.

The restaurant owners, especially Loh Lik Peng, are asking the government to relax the foreign quota.

Michelle Saram said she moved her restaurant business to Japan because she can’t hire Singaporeans. She said that her Japanese staff have been working with her for the past 5 years. Singaporeans, on the other hand, tend to job-hop.

Liak Teng Lit also said it’s very hard to find Singaporeans to work as nurses. He said that the foreign nurses working at his hospital are all very good.

Background of Participants

Liak Teng Lit is the new NEA Chairman appointed on 1 April this year. He is also the Group CEO of Alexandra Health System. Mr Liak seems to have a very poor perception of Singaporeans (‘New NEA Chairman used to scold SGs for ‘poor upbringing’‘).

In a media interview last May, as Deputy Chairman of NEA, Mr Liak scolded Singaporeans for their “poor upbringing” in response to some patrons who did not want to return trays at hawker centres (‘NEA Dty Chairman scolds S’poreans for poor upbringing‘).

Mr Liak then said, “If you all eat properly and not eat until a mess, how will you dirty your hands (for returning trays)? It’s a problem of upbringing. Everyone should depend on oneself (to return trays). Don’t depend on others. Everyone should really reflect on this.”

In another media interview in 2013 [Link], he said that Singaporeans’ reliance on cleaners extends to many families with domestic help and those who eat out. “In hawker centres we eat like pigs, with food and tissue all over the tables. It’s a disgrace. We don’t eat like that at home,” he said.

As Group CEO of Alexandra Health System, he is said to have frowned upon subsidising healthcare. He also appears to have a low opinion of the British National Health Service. He has no qualms sending debt collectors to go after Singaporeans not paying their hospital bills. Last June, a reader forwarded his friend’s letter to TR Emeritus, revealing that Khoo Teck Puat Hospital – which is under the Alexandra Health System – engaged debt collector to collect an outstanding balance of $621.20 from his friend (‘KTPH sends debt collector to go after patients‘).

Janice Wong is a pastry chef with her own dessert bar at Holland Village. Other than involving herself in the restaurant business, she also gives talks and holds workshops. For example, in 2013, she was invited by YWLC and People’s Association to talk in a forum [Link]. The guest-of-honour for the event was Minister Grace Fu.

Michelle Saram was formerly a singer and actress. She is notable for being one of the very few Singaporean actresses who played leading roles in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China television serials. Her first big break came in 1997 when Aaron Kwok picked her to be in his music video.

She later married a foreign businessman and went into the restaurant business.

Loh Lik Peng is a prominent hotelier and restaurateur who is being investigated by the authorities for hiring foreigners without valid work permits [Link]. His restaurant was earlier raided by MOM officers. Three foreigners were arrested at his restaurant.

Mr Loh blamed it on “human error”. He told the media, “We’ve always had rules and there are procedures in place. The managers are not supposed to hire anyone without going through HR (human resources), but if staff on the ground don’t follow procedures, what can you do? We are an organisation of more than 300 people and sometimes there is human error.”

Last month on April 7, the Facebook pages of his restaurants announced shorter operating hours with immediate effect “due to unforeseen circumstances”. A day later, it was announced on Facebook that they were looking to hire staff, and only Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents need apply.

Perhaps to balance the talk show, MediaCorp should have invited some TRE readers to tell Minister Tan about the problems that they are facing everyday in trying to get a good job in Singapore?

What do you think?

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