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Bertha HarianBertha Harian


An unproductive time

What’s the job of the news media? It’s to make sense of what people are saying, put stuff in perspective and tell me what’s important. I read and re-read ST’s piece today on MOM Minister Tan Chuan Jin’s blog and kept wondering what’s the point he’s trying to make…After all, did he already say most of these things in Parliament before? Or is there some new nugget somewhere? All that mass of numbers – all to show that the G is on “the right track’’? I was having a very unproductive morning. I was wondering if I should whip out my calculator and see if there was more to the figures on WP, S passes etc and decided, in my laziness, that I should just see if Today did a better job. It did. And it also helpfully provided me with what Tan Chuan Jin said in his blog in its comment pages. ST didn’t do the minister any justice, I thought. What I found intriguing is the higher absolute numbers of Spass holders.
From January to June, the number of work permits for low-skilled workers increased by 20,600 – largely due to foreign construction workers – and S Passes for mid-skilled workers grew by 14,200. Employment Passes for managerial or executive-level foreigners contracted slightly by 700 – the first half-yearly reduction since 2009 when a recession hit.

The “strong growth” in S Passes is likely due to companies using them to bring in more junior-level professionals, managers and executives now that Employment Pass requirements have been tightened, said Mr Tan. “We are taking a close look at this group,” he wrote.
In Parliament, he had talked about the higher rejection rate. Seems this rate isn’t translating into lower absolute numbers, which is what people want to see. Makes you think there’s a loophole somewhere. Can’t get EP so see how to smuggle them under SPass?
Then of course, there is all this talk about raising productivity. When I hear about our productivity being so low, I keep wondering if we’re lazy or stupid. We’re not right? Anyway, MOM’s Tan went on in his blog about some Hotel scheme to allow workers to train to straddle different jobs. I wonder if this is one of the 160 schemes offered by the G to help firms raise productivity. I mean, 160???? So if there are so many schemes and we still so unproductive, what does it mean? The whole thing is too confusing for SMEs? If I were an SME boss, I’d apply for as many as possible – like a welfare shopper. Or maybe I will find myself strangled by red tape. As a taxpayer though, I wonder if agencies are duplicating each other in their efforts. Time to prune the tangle, as is now being done for welfare cases, so that the agencies will be more productive in their productivity efforts?

I had two other “unproductive” moments:
a. Having to read PM on page 1 of ST. It’s exhortation and dragged out to make a story. Seems a better news story is further inside, on how retail investors can now have a better shot at subscribing to a company’s IPO.
b. Having to read TNP’s Cecilia Sue story. Yesterday, it rehashed the whole court case albeit with a nice concept of Victim/Vixen and a piece on the court gawkers. There’s another piece on the gawkers today….Enuff already. Just tell me who those burly guys around her are!!!!

Written By

An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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