24 November 2006

Singapore is World No. 3! Another Achievement.

From Aftenposten, a Norwegian newspaper:
    40 percent feel discrimination

    A new survey found that 40 percent of Norwegians feel that they have experienced discrimination when seeking work, one of the best results in the 28 nation study.

    The survey by manpower company Kelly Services rated Sweden as the worst in terms of job discrimination, with nearly 100 percent of respondents saying they felt they had been unfairly treated in the past five years because of either race, age, gender or disability.

    After Sweden came Thailand, Singapore, Hungary, India and Italy.

    The countries where the least job discrimination was felt ranked Luxembourg as best, followed by Denmark, Hong Kong and Great Britain.

    Norway did rather well, finishing 24th out of the 28 nations studied, despite having about 40 percent of 1,400 polled saying they had experienced employment discrimination in the past five years.

    The most commonly given reason for job discrimination in Norway was age (22 percent), followed by gender (8 percent), race (4 percent) and disability (2 percent). Men felt more victimized than women, by 43 percent to 37 percent.
Well, life is unfair. But try to stay positive. If life is unfair, it means that sometimes very good things might happen in your life that you've done absolutely nothing to deserve.

It's interesting to note that there seems to be no correlation between the level of unfair discrimination in a country, and its level of democracy. The above study shows that where jobs are concerned, Sweden and Singapore are the world's most unfairly discriminatory countries. This other study says that Sweden is the world's most democratic nation, while Singapore is ranked dismally (84th place).

Thus like Sweden, you can be very democratic, yet very discriminatory. Or you can be like Singapore - very undemocratic, and very discriminatory.

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The Human Battery said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Human Battery said...

Everything we do, we do to attract the MNCs. We have no minimum wage, we allow employers to discriminate in hiring and on the job and in deciding who to fire! And so on...

Everybody has, more or less heard of the rationale behind such policies. But we really should ask:

A. Are we sure these are not myth? I mean, apart from some leader's constant exhortation, we have no empirical proof at all that if we have *some* basic min wage, and *some* basic anti-discrimination law, we would not be able to attract those MNCs.

B. Why the !@#$ are we still relying on MNCs after 40 years? Why hadn't anything *significant* been done to nurture local companies to become our version of Samsung, Nokia etc?

Both points originated from some leader's style of governance: make a decision, be extreme, go all out and put all eggs in one basket (only to regret it some 30-40 years later)!!!

We see this same style repeated again and again... the extreme stop at 2 policy being a prominent example - it's not the policy per se, but how it was carried out: discrimination in pri 1 admission, "forced" vasectomy, "coerced" abortion, the teaching of the advantages of having small families to pri sch children during moral ed class, even before these children reached puberty!!

It's always the same theme (be it MNC or population policy or in fact, any policy): extremism leading to short-term success and long-term failure. Sigh, sometimes, I wonder who really is the pain in the neck!

Anonymous said...

yea I agree with "the human battery". In Singapore, many things were done to attract foreign MNCs because we do not have that many local companies to support our workforce. And if there is anti-discrimination law, then We might lose out alot of foreign investors, causing more unemployment and loss of income, foreign companies will move to countries like china or vietnam where labours are cheaper. It's already happening.

The Human Battery said...

Girl with paper journal, you are not agreeing with me lah. Read my Pt A and B, esp point B - we should have stopped relying on MNCs long ago.

We should have competed based on brain-power and not on cheap labour, long ago, where long ago = 20 years ago. Many people (even within PAP) already voiced these concerns abt india, china, vietnam in the 1980s, but no, in the end, the view of "the great one" prevailed and so we continued for another 20 years till now when we have structural unemployment. Finally, now we are talking abt knowledge-based economy when we should have done that 20 yrs ago! If we had nurtured our own industry since 1980s, by now, we would not have had to endure those discrimination mentioned in this blog post, just to attract MNCs!

Anonymous said...

The human battery, then you have kind of answered your own question. Singapore needs brain power to nurture local companies to become like Samsung , Nokia, etc. But Do we have such talent?

(i will not talk about Flextronics, Creative technology and Government owned companies like SIA or Singtel)

Actually, regarding your point that we should have competed on brain power. In the 80s, the Singapore government already embark on the "Second Industrial Revolution", a move into knowledge-intensive activities such as R&D, engineering design, and computer software services.

Nowadays, since we cannot create a breakthrough technology or unique products/services which our economy can rely on, we have no choice but to network with global companies, do business with them untill we could one day. Getting rid of the MNCs will be a big mistake because they not only provide jobs but they also pay taxes to support the economy.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

This is going off topic ...

My post has little to do with MNCs. On criteria like race, language, age etc, local employers are much more discriminatory than MNCs anyway.

Many MNCs in fact have a global HR policy of embracing diversity. And they go beyond race, gender and nationality. Stanchart for example is prepared to hire HIV-positive employees. Citibank has an employee network for gay staff. UBS makes all kinds of special arrangements for working mothers.

The Human Battery said...

Erm, Mr. Wang, but isn't it true that the govt refused to have any anti-discrimination law on "criteria like race, language, age etc", so as to attract MNCs, all of which would not like to face the same multi-million dollars anti-discrimiination law suits - Once you have such law in place, punitive law suits follow, for otherwise, how would such law be enforceable? - that they faced back in their home country? (though u are of course correct that MNCs discriminate less than local companies).

Girl with paper journal, of course we have such talent and brain-power, but in the 1980s, only <7% are allowed to develop to their full potential in universities, because "the great one" thought we need to train more technicians and production workers. Now that we decide to go to "knowledge-based industry", suddenly 25% are "qualified" for uni and 40% suddenly have their IQ doubled overnight that they can enter poly. There is really nothing worth arguing about: just look at hard-core objective worldwide statistics and you can verify for yourself that back then we had less people going for tertiary education per capita, compared to other developed countries. (HK for eg has 7-8 uni in 1980s, we had only 1 back then). Hence the truth is: we had underdeveloped our talent back then and therefore has to lower wage, endure discrimination etc so as to attract foreign investment. You should have more faith in fellow citizens than to dismiss them - without evidence - as lacking in brain power (and therefore by inference, only fit to play second fiddle as technicians and production worker, competing at the same level and hence subject to the same discrimination of age, gender etc as Indian and Chinese labourers). Anyway, our govt has already realised its mistake, and as I said, is sending more people to tertiary ed. If only they had done that 20 yrs ago, we could have put into place those anti-discrimination law by now!

The Human Battery said...

> (i will not talk about Flextronics, Creative technology and Government owned companies like SIA or Singtel)

And why won't you talk about them? Maybe it's because these are precisely examples of the great brain-power and talent our locals have! There would have been many more such companies if only much more of each educational cohort was allowed to proceed to higher ed, instead of being sent to become "human batteries" in the manufacturing industry, after O-level, N-level, PSLE monolingual stream...

The Human Battery said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Human Battery said...

The relevance of my comment to this blog post is this:

1. anti-discrimination law is the most effective way to reduce our "World no. 3 ranking".

2. Such law can only be put into place if we are not basing our economy on MNC/manufacturing, because when investing overseas, these foreign companies would - other factors equal - pick the country with the least anti-dicrimination legislation, to avoid punitive law suits that will raise business cost.

3. Now, If we had not (a) artificially suppressed tertiary ed opportunity in the 1980s (which is not an allegation, but something that can be verified independly via world-wide stats of education level per 1000 population, as mentioned earlier), (b) suppressed entrepreneurship in favour of training people to become engineering technicians (c) supressed SME in favour of MNC via tax concesssion and other measures, and (d) a host of other policies that I have no mood to talk abt here, we would have many successful locally owned businesses (such as Korean's Samsung, Finland's Nokia etc).

4. This would allow us to put into place those anti-discrimiination law, since we need not compete on the low level mentioned in pt 2.

5. Hence we would not have ranked number 3, hence this blog post won't even have come into being :)

Anonymous said...

hmm I didn't say that the locals lack brain power. I think you said it yourself on "We should have competed based on brain-power and not on cheap labour".

anyways, you have the right to your opinion and I am not here to argue with you or anything. :) I just think that higher education mean that a person will be intelligent and be able to do great things. There are people without education that become entrepreneur. :) Even though the world is very realistic nowadays.. Nowadays higher education doesnt even guarantee a good job.

I think Mr. Wang is right, some of the local companies can be more discriminatory than the MNCs.

Sorry, we're off topic. :)

Anonymous said...

oops typo there, higher education does not mean that

Anonymous said...

how does this discrimination thing work if 100% of Swedes feel they are discriminated against, who can be positively discriminated in favour of? Porco is confused ...

Anonymous said...

Speaking of discriminatory recruitment practices, I do have one story to share. A friend of mine used to work at this local 'MNC' which is overrun by retired army officials. One of the CEOs heading a subsidiary division used to consider candidates' zodiac signs during the recruitment process. It naturally follows then only people borne under zodiac signs that are compatible with that of the CEO is hired.

Some would reckon this is entirely unscientific way of recruiting staff. But likewise, I would argue the many practices of say institutionalised personality tests at recruitment drives are no less discriminatory.

Singapore is often said to be run very much like a large corporation. It ain't any surprise we see some parallels here as to why Singapore is ranked amongst the Top 3 in this recent study.

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