At a 23 Aug 2020 virtual event organised by East Coast grassroots advisers, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat responded to criticisms that free trade agreements (FTAs) or Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements (CECA) had caused Singaporeans to lose out in job opportunities. He warned that such statements about Singapore signing away jobs protection for Singaporeans were "totally false."
Heng Swee Keat defended bilateral agreements saying such opportunities created jobs. At the same time he emphasised that bilateral agreements do not mean Singapore was giving up its sovereign rights to determine who becomes a citizen or Singapore PR, or who gets an Employment Pass (EP). Strangely enough the Ministry of Manpower still managed to detect 47 firms suspected of having discriminatory hiring practices where a "high concentration" of PMETs from the same nationality.
At this same session, Heng Swee Keat finally acknowledged there are Singaporeans who feel there are too many foreigners in Singapore. He shared East Coast residents' had voiced concerns about the "arge number of expatriates at Changi Business Park." But he seemed to suggested that this may be linked a "shortage of manpower in technology and in risk management areas." Perhaps Singaporeans lack talents or expertise in these areas.
Despite his attempt to convince naysayers, many netizens were in disbelief and some even wanted concrete proof for his statements:
Do you agree with these netizens on these motherhood statements?