Tharman the Joker/ Disconnect/ Not Uniquely S’porean

In Economy on 08/07/2016 at 5:36 am

Must be joking

Singapore must respond quickly and take advantage of technologies so as to create better jobs for Singaporeans, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Monday (May 30)*.

Looks like he’s trying to tell jokes again.

So long as there is a flood of cheap FT labour for PMET tasks, why should employers bother? It’s only when labour is expensive that capital-intensive technology and processes are used: A -levels econs.

Worse, FTs can get jobs as drivers and barbers. So what’s this talk of slowing the flood of FTs?


Tharman is the Joker

Isn’t his comments on govt acting quickly on property prices, bit like his jokes on inflation, wages?

Disconnect on FT numbers

Like other S’poreans, I feel that the govt’s claims of ever decreasing FT inflows doesn’t chime with reality: there is a disconnect.

I came across this report from CNA that may help to partially bridge the gap:

Another factor that may affect older workers is that their compensation packages may be higher than for younger workers with less experience, which may play a role when companies are trying to cut costs,” he added.

In particular, older Professionals, Managers, Executives, and Technicians (PMETs) have borne the brunt in terms of job losses and re-entry into employment as businesses restructure amid a slowing economy.

“It is a reflection of the economic structuring,” Credit Suisse economist Michael Wan told Channel NewsAsia. “As companies continue to cut headcount amid the economic headwinds, older PMETs continue to be retrenched.”

About 46 per cent of residents made redundant in the fourth quarter of 2015 found jobs by March, down from 50 per cent in the previous quarter – marking the lowest since June 2009.

“Amid softer economic conditions and as the economy restructures, redundancies are expected to rise in sectors affected by weak external demand,” MOM said, adding that it will continue to work closely with tripartite partners to help those laid off find jobs.

FT PMET numbers may be down, but when FT PMETs come in, they replace older S’porean PMETs.

Not Uniquely S’porean

But falling productivity is an uniquely S’porean issue . It’s a global problem. Even if there are no FTs, there’d still be a productivity problem.


*At the annual Pre-University Seminar, DPM Tharman said in most advanced countries, there is a “real fear” that in 10 to 20 years from now, jobs losses will exceed the number of jobs created, resulting in higher unemployment.

“We can avoid that. First, because we have an advantage of being a small society but with a global market. And secondly, we can avoid that by responding in advance to what is coming – respond quickly to technologies, take advantage of technologies and make sure that we create better jobs for everyone,” he said. 

He added that there is a need to “use technology rather than be used by technology” – and this means using technology “to enhance human abilities in every job and to create satisfying jobs.

And limiting civil servants access to the internet is using technology


  1. Well, it takes more technology to maintain a small group of PCs with internet access while ensuring they can’t compromise the internal network, while at the same time maintaining the rest of the devices such that there is still nationwide connectivity i.e. inter-ministry & still maintaining firewalls, encryption, secured logins (including use of thumbdrives and other mobile devices), physical strongrooms & lockdowns etc in case there is a breach.

  2. […] Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Tharman the Joker/ Disconnect/ Not Uniquely S’porean – Mostly Economics: Human Development in MP: the role of fiscal policy and governance (and […]

  3. What many, including the fellas who commissioned the Panama Cana and the lot who sent train carriages on a break to China , don’t seem to realise is that there is a cost to saving costs. This can be quite high.

    So you hire a younger, cheaper, less experienced person, or a foreigner whose background can be iffy. Things take longer to do. Things dun go right. Liitle but important things are overlooked. So things have to be done again. They still may not work. So they’re done yet again. Well, there go your productivity figs.

    It does not help that management today sucks. Bosses don’t plan. In fact, too many don’t seem to think about things at all. They can’t see the big picture. Their instructions, if any, are vague, garbled, becos they’re clueless. Everything is reqd yesterday. In such situations, you’re lucky if things work out at all. Bosses are also totally clueless about how to motivate people, deal with different personalities. It’s all cookie cutter thinking, approaches. Success??
    Lucky if you see it.

    Will technology make things easier? The human robots now on payrolls certainly aren’t.

    But what if technology does help? Goodo. You need fewer people on the job then. Seeing as how we’re trying to go thataway, why then are we also growing this island’s population?

    As for Tharman, it’s hard to believe things he says. He’s the one who claims you can buy a flat with a $1,000 salary. He’s the one who promised a gentlemanly fight in the last by-election. We all know all this is not true. So how to believe him on jobs and technology?!?

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