Decision to withhold names of firms on FCF watch list indefensible

Year: 2020

In response to Manpower Minister Josephine Teo’s comments on withholding the names of firms on the Fair Consideration (FCF) watch lists, FMG CEO questions how this is defensible given the Government’s track record in holding locally owned SMEs accountable.

“FMG finds the position taken and rationale provided by the Minister to be unconvincing, unclear and illogical.

We cannot identify the purpose of ‘watching’ firms already identified as bad actors or why she considers it reassuring that MOM would continue to ‘watch’ these firms even after they show signs of reform.

‘Watching’ is not enforcement, without which there is no deterrence. This prompts queries both of what is the policy purpose and the veracity of the Minister’s claim to be supporting Singaporean jobs and companies which is the stated policy objective.

We also note that, failing to make clear what exactly constitutes ‘watching’ or the mechanism MOM uses to make the ‘watchlist’ purposeful, there is a lack of accountability to the public. This is a deficit in the standard of good governance and will result in an erosion of trust between the people, industry and the MOM specifically, and the government generally.

What is inhibiting the MOM from ‘naming and shaming’ bad actors? Historically, the government has had no compunction in publicly holding locally owned SMEs to account for governance or other shortcomings.

When there is no consistency, clarity and conviction, then where there should be effectiveness, there is only incredulity. That is counter-productive.