Ex-SPH Staff: It Is Wrong To Say That CECA Indians Are “Foreign Talents”, they are not “Talents”

There is a message circulating on WhatsApp from an alleged ex-SPH staff who reflects on the influx of CECA Indians in the early 2000s. The ex-SPH staff wrote that any skills transfer was amongst the CECA Indians, and some fresh graduates from India with zero work experience was also labelled as “foreign talent”.


_My Personal Experience_

I worked roughly 40 years in IT sector, mostly on IBM Mainframe and later on IBM AIX (Unix) machines, till retirement in 2012.

Around end-1999 and early 2000 the first batch of Indians from India started to join our IT division. At that time *95%* were all *Singaporeans*.

None of us knew that the first wave of CECA had already started or even that there was such a _secret_ agreement signed with India called CECA.

A few of the CECA Indians who joined SPH were not even IT graduates. They had Commerce, Agriculture or other unrelated degrees.

Once these CECA Indians joined us, they were encouraged to ask their friends back home, either from same village or same Uni, to come over.

_We did not realise that Robert Walters Recruitment Agency had special arrangements with HR departments in civil service, stat boards and large organisations such as SPH to welcome in more Indians here_ .

For more than half of these CECA Indians, this was their first job after graduation. That is, they had *zero work experience*. If they have zero work experience, then how can you label them as “talent”. Because of this backdoor agreement and special label “Foreign Talent”, fresh grads from India were given preference over fresh grads who graduated from our local unis.

Majority of these CECA Indians were just average programmers and some even very weak, but they were a very cooperative bunch who helped each other by often staying late at work to help their friends who were weak in programming. In fact the skills transfer was amongst themselves.

They did not help Singaporeans who struggled in assignments, so there were no skills transfer to locals at all.

Robert Walters offered SPH HR & IT, a one-on-one immediate exchange, if any of the CECA Indians were not up to standard workwise. _Those found unsuitable were not sent home_ by Robert Walters but were instead re-deployed to other organizations.

From renting a room at the beginning, many CECA Indians managed to rent a whole HDB flat esp.., since shared the same culinary and cultural practices with their colleagues from the same bvillages or provinces back in India.

When I left SPH HR, about *60-70% of IT staff were CECA Indians*, mostly in programming.

To say that the CECA Indians from India here are _Foreign Talent_ is wrong. It is just a government label and narrative to open the floodgate to all foreigners by abusing this label of theirs.

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