I am completely baffled after reading the TODAY news (‘Singaporean core does not mean S’poreans only, says Chun Sing’, 5 Apr 2016) on what NTUC Chief Chan Chun Sing said about the Singaporean core.

He now cautioned Singaporeans against mistakenly creating a “Singaporeans only” attitude in the country’s bid to develop a Singaporean core. He said that the Singaporean core is more about creating “a diverse team of talents from cross-sector, cross-cultural backgrounds and international exposure” and that it cannot be defined as an “exclusive and inward-looking perspective”.

He seems to be hinting now that the Singaporean core does not mean being Singaporeans only! In other words, it’s ok for non-Singaporeans to be included in our Singaporean core. What is he talking about?

I recalled the term “Singaporean core” first came up in a Parliamentary debate in early 2013 when it was revealed that DPM Tharman and then Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin had met up with senior management staff in the banking industry. They were telling the bank management to make more efforts to develop a Singaporean core in their banks.

The meetings with the bank management came about because there had been unhealthy foreign enclaves emerging and job discrimination against our own Singaporeans in the banking industry.

Minister Tan Chuan-Jin was quoted speaking in Parliament: “We have heard anecdotes of how in certain cases, heads of business units or HR managers have a preference for candidates they are familiar with or of the same nationality, for reasons that are irrelevant to job performance and irrespective of whether they are more competent than other candidates.”

“We have also heard of situations where Singaporeans were retrenched or made to resign in the name of down-sizing, only to realise later that their positions were given to foreigners, who were coincidentally from the same countries as the business heads.”

“Let me be quite blunt. Would these practices not sound discriminatory? Would any respectable progressive company endorse these practices? If this hiring is indeed because they care only about choosing familiar candidatesand not about hiring the ‘best man for the job’, then such practices have no place in Singapore’s workplaces. Discrimination will not and cannot be tolerated.”

So, it’s quite clear that DPM Tharman and Minister Tan are referring to Singaporeans when they talked about developing a Singaporean core because they clearly pointed out that Singaporeans were being discriminated and displaced in those banks which they talked to. Otherwise, why would DPM Tharman and Minister Tan bothered to remind the senior managment of those banks?

But now, this Chan Chun Sing is singing a different song. Mr Chan is now saying to develop a ‘talent core’ which does not mean Singaporeans only.

Who is right?

How come NTUC Chief Chan Chun Sing is now contradicting with what DPM Tharman had said about developing a Singaporean core?

Chan Can Sing
A.S.S Contributor

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