Corrections And Clarifications Regarding Falsehoods Posted By The Singapore Democratic Party

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) published two Facebook posts and an article on the SDP’s website regarding Singapore’s population policy that contain falsehoods.

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) published two Facebook posts and an article on the SDP’s website regarding Singapore’s population policy that contain falsehoods. In addition, SDP paid for both posts to be boosted as advertisements on Facebook. Both posts are linked to an article on the SDP’s website titled, “SDP Population Policy: Hire S’poreans First, Retrench S’poreans last”.

One of the Facebook posts includes a graphical illustration depicting plunging “Local PMET Employment”. In the Court of Appeal’s judgment in The Online Citizen Pte Ltd v Attorney-General and another appeal and other matters [2021] SGCA 96 (“CA Judgment”), it has been held that the reference to “Local PMET Employment” in this graphic is to Singapore Citizen PMET employment.

It is wrong that Singapore Citizen PMET employment has decreased. As reported in the Ministry of Manpower’s Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, Singapore Citizen PMET employment has risen steadily since 2015.

The article on the SDP’s website titled, “SDP Population Policy: Hire S’poreans First, Retrench S’poreans last”, contains the statement: “The SDP’s proposal comes amidst a rising proportion of Singapore PMETs getting retrenched”.

This statement is also wrong. There is no rising trend of local PMET retrenchments. As noted in the CA Judgment, the SDP has accepted that “local PMET” in the context of this article refers to Singapore Citizen PMETs and Permanent Resident PMETs. The number of local PMETs retrenched in 2018 was, in fact, the lowest since 2014. Local PMETs retrenched, as a proportion of all local PMET employees, has also declined since 2015.

POFMA has been used to place the facts alongside the falsehoods.


FALSEHOODS

The following are falsehoods in SDP’s Facebook posts, advertisements, and website.

Falsehood #1: The claim that Singapore Citizen PMET employment has been going down

SGP1
[Screenshot from SDP’s Facebook post]

As found in the CA Judgment, “Local PMET” in this graphic refers to “Singapore Citizen PMETs”. This graphic depicts the number of Singapore Citizen PMETs employed as having fallen sharply. This is false.

Fact #1:  the number of Singapore Citizen PMETs employed has increased from about 0.93 million in 2015 to about 1.05 million in 2019. 

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s Comprehensive Labour Force Survey (CLFS) shows that Singapore Citizen PMET employment has risen steadily since 2015. 


Source: Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, Manpower Research & Statistics Department, MOM

It should be noted that MOM does not usually decompose resident labour market statistics into Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents. Singapore Citizens make up a large majority of the labour force, at about 85%. The Permanent Resident population has also remained stable over time at about 0.5 million. These two facts taken together means that for the most part, resident data mirrors citizen data, and having citizen data in addition to resident data provides little additional information.

Falsehood #2 - The claim that Singaporean PMET retrenchment has been going up. 

The SDP website states that the party’s “proposal comes amidst a rising proportion of Singapore PMETs getting retrenched”. This statement is false. As found in the CA Judgment, the SDP has, by its statement, asserted that local PMET retrenchment has been increasing, in numerical terms. As noted in the CA Judgment, the SDP has accepted that “local PMETs” in relation to the SDP’s website article refers to Singapore Citizen PMETs and Permanent Resident PMETs.  

Fact #2a: There has been no rising trend of local retrenchments since 2015.

capture 2
Source: Labour Market Survey, Manpower Research & Statistics Department, MOM

Fact #2b: There has been no rising trend of local PMET retrenchment since 2015. The number of retrenched local PMETs has declined from 6,460 in 2015 to 5,360 in 2018, the lowest since 2014.

capture 3
Source: Labour Market Survey, Manpower Research & Statistics Department, MOM

Fact #2c: The number of local PMETs retrenched as a share of all local PMET employees has also declined since 2015. 

capture 4
Source: Labour Market Survey, Manpower Research & Statistics Department, MOM

CLARIFICATION ON FOREIGN PMETS

SDP’s graph above also depicts the number of foreign PMETs as having increased sharply in recent years.

The number of Employment Pass (EP) holders has historically fluctuated depending on economic conditions.  EP qualifying salaries are also regularly adjusted to safeguard employment of local PMETs.  As a result, local PMET employment has continued to grow while the number of EP holders in Singapore remained stable, ranging from 187,900 in 2015 to 185,800 in 2018. The figure as of Jun 2019 is 189,000. 

 capture 5
Source: Ministry of Manpower

SDP’s statements seek to mislead Singaporeans

The Singapore economy is continuing to create jobs despite the economic headwinds. Singapore Citizen PMET employment has increased consistently. There is no rising trend of retrenchment, whether amongst PMETs or otherwise.

Given the current uncertain economic climate, it is understandable that some Singaporeans feel anxious about employment prospects and retrenchments. This makes it all the more critical that public debate on the important issue of jobs is based on accurate facts, and not distortions or falsehoods.

These false and misleading statements by the SDP have a singular objective – to stoke fear and anxiety among local PMETs. It is important to set the facts straight so that Singaporeans are not misled.

 

Relevant links:

Local PMET Employment - Labour Force in Singapore Advance Release

Number of retrenched locals – Labour Market Report 2018

More information on POFMA