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MTI responds to ST forum writer who misquoted Chee Hong Tat in his forum letter

By January 17, 2020Current

TL;DR – By misquoting Chee’s statement, the forum letter may give readers the wrong impression.

While it is nice to see fellow Singaporeans speaking up or airing their views openly, however, it seems that forum writer Mr Sin Wei Xiang might have misquoted Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat’s statements.

In his ST forum letter, Sin apparently gave readers the impression that:

  • the government did not provide stratified employment data broken down into citizens versus PRs,
  • and that Chee said that providing employment data for citizens and permanent residents would drive a wedge between different groups in society.

With the above assumptions, Sin cited various examples of how the government already publishes data based on racial classification and ethnic groups. He then argued that if providing stratified data would “drive a wedge between different groups within our society”, the Government should abolish the release of data categorised by ethnic groups.

Ministry of Trade and Industry responds

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has since published their clarification in a letter in response to the letter written by Sin.

The clarification highlighted two key points:

1. Employment data of Singaporeans and PRs has already been provided in Parliament

Contrary to Sin’s letter, in which he alluded that the stratified employment data was not provided, MTI said the data has already been provided by Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad in Parliament. A simple Google search throws up what Zaqy said on 6 January 2020 here.

MTI said:

The figures provided showed an increase in local employment of 47,900 (39,300 Singapore citizens and 8,600 permanent residents) and a decrease in employment of foreigners of 28,500.

The local employment figure of 47,900 is almost 80 per cent of the 60,000 increase in local employment in the economy from 2015 to 2018.

The government also provides other employment data that stratifies Singaporeans and PRs here, here and even further back in time here.

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2. Chee did not say that providing employment data for citizens and permanent residents would drive a wedge between different groups in society

MTI’s letter said:

Mr Chee did not say that providing employment data for citizens and permanent residents would drive a wedge between different groups in society. In his Facebook post on Jan 8, Mr Chee said the data had already been provided in Parliament on Jan 6 and asked why Mr Pritam Singh failed to acknowledge this fact in his Jan 7 Facebook post.

Even if Sin seemed to be confused, MTI also graciously agreed with Sin on the need for constructive discourse, based on arguments that are backed by accurate facts.

The ministry also urges Singaporeans to stay united and work together to grow our economy for the benefit of Singapore and Singaporeans as we carry out the debate and discussions.

You may read MTI’s full letter below:

Mr Sin Wei Xiang has misquoted Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat in his letter (Breaking down data can aid public discourse, Jan 15).

Mr Chee did not say that providing employment data for citizens and permanent residents would drive a wedge between different groups in society. In his Facebook post on Jan 8, Mr Chee said the data had already been provided in Parliament on Jan 6 and asked why Mr Pritam Singh failed to acknowledge this fact in his Jan 7 Facebook post.

In response to a parliamentary question by Mr Singh, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad provided a breakdown of the change in total employment across the 23 industry transformation maps (ITM) sectors between 2015 and 2018. The 23 ITMs cover 80 per cent of Singapore’s economy.

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The figures provided showed an increase in local employment of 47,900 (39,300 Singapore citizens and 8,600 permanent residents) and a decrease in employment of foreigners of 28,500.

The local employment figure of 47,900 is almost 80 per cent of the 60,000 increase in local employment in the economy from 2015 to 2018.

We agree with Mr Sin on the need for constructive discourse, based on arguments that are backed by accurate facts. The data that was provided contributes to this. Importantly, as we carry out the debate and discussions, we must stay united and work together to grow our economy for the benefit of Singapore and Singaporeans. As Mr Chee said, all attempts to divide and fragment our society must be firmly rejected.

Lim Weilin
Director, Corporate Communications Division
Ministry of Trade and Industry

 

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JW

Author JW

I am nice, most of the time!

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