“Being a Singaporean does not give you the right to a job. You still have to demonstrate that you deserve it.”
If you think that this is stating the obvious, then you will be shocked to see how many people think otherwise.
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to sit-in at a job interview panel. We were looking for Singaporeans with some IT and some management experience to take on a supervisory role. One of the applicants was particularly memorable.
And by memorable, I mean terribly awful. His resume looked alright (otherwise he wouldn’t have made it to the interview). And he dressed and carried himself decently, so it was not a bad first impression. But once he opened his mouth, you could tell that he was destined for rejection:
- Wasn’t clear about our company’s core business (i.e. he didn’t bother to do some basic research)
- Claimed he left his old job because he “couldn’t stand his ex-boss”.(i.e. not inherently a problem, but it does raise some doubts about who was really the problem worker.)
- Unable to give a satisfactory answer on team conflict management.
- Unable to give a satisfactory answer on time prioritisation
- Couldn’t even explain some of the stuff in his resume (this one really set the alarm bells off)
Needless to say, the interview was over in less than 10 mins.
We get applicants who perform poorly at interviews all the time. But this was the first time I had the applicant send a nasty rambling email days later complaining that we never picked him. Some of the accusations in the letter looked like a copy-and-paste from the usual Temasek Review complaints.
- Accuse us of favoring foreigners over Singaporeans. (He probably forgot that the job advertisement said “Singaporeans only”)
- Accuse us of being “un-patriotic”
- Accuse us of being discriminatory towards men over 30 years old
- Accuse us of trying to squeeze the poor Singaporean to get rich
- etc etc
I’m all for limiting foreign labor because of Singapore’s infrastructure constraints. But jokers like this make me wonder whether it is a good idea to implement a “Singaporeans First” policy when it comes to job allocation. It also makes me wonder how many of those Temasek Review complaints are actually due to complainers who are blaming foreigners and the PAP for their own incompetence.
If you want to see what a “Singaporeans First” policy looks like, just look across the causeway. The bumiputera policy there gives Malays higher priority for university places and jobs. When you deal with a Malaysian company, it can sometimes be clear that this policy results in some questionable talent residing in the firm.
A good programmer is worth about 10 times more than an average one. A bad programmer is actually worth a negative salary. A company must hire good people if it wants to survive in the market place. The government should not go out of the way to protect weak companies. A similar wake-up call is needed for some of these complacent Singaporeans. The world does not owe you a living, brother.