Needs of SME owners to be considered in addition to those of workers

Year: 2020

This post is written as a brief comment to an article published on Today Online titled: S’pore must remain open to investments, foreigners to create opportunities for locals: Tharman (15 September 2020).

“FMG notes the points eloquently made by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. We make the following observations.

First, these remarks were made at the invitation-only Singapore Summit. Few, if any, SME leaders were invited. It would seem that COVID aside, if it were true that “SMEs are part of our society”, then it is time for the Government to treat them and MNCs equally and this should be reflected in their representation at signature events which discuss their future.

Second, his remarks on diversity in the workplace are well taken but sit oddly with tightened controls on the flow of foreign talent. We note that his remarks were in relation to avoiding an overconcentration of one nationality in any firm but should that not apply to Singaporeans as well? Singapore cannot succeed and stay relevant with just Singaporeans. That is an inescapable fact. Thus there is cognitive dissonance in his observation and actual policy in practice.

Third, 70% of Singapore workers are employed by SMEs. In a “wipeout”, what is the Government’s plan to support these workers and also the SME owners who would likely have lost everything, fighting to save their firms and the jobs of their workers?

We will emerge from COVID a different Singapore. What will that future look like?”

– Devadas Krishnadas