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Old 18-06-2011, 08:37 PM
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Globalisation has reared its ugly head in Singapore for the past few years and many PMETs increasingly find themselves being replaced by cheaper workers from abroad.

I am just an ordinary true blue Singaporean who started work in the private sector in 1998 after having completed my Navy contract of six and a half years.

I wished to share my painful experience of globalization in the financial sector – an industry that I have worked in for the past ten years.

I started as a contract IT engineer working in the local bank for almost 5 years since year 2000. They name this contract job as “Fixed Time Hirer” meaning that the contract would only be renewed yearly based on your service and performance. Talked about a lack of job security here…

I have given my utmost best to the clients I served and also taken a lot of projects from time to time to allow the employers to know that I am a good employee.

During this period, I was hoping to join them as a permanent staff after working with them for so many years but regardless of how much effort I have put into my work, they would not consider me for a permanent role.

After 2 years, another IT company bade for the contract and was successfully awarded the IT servicing agreement. We have to transit to this new company after negotiating the hiring agreement.

It has been a rough transition as there were many parties involved in amending the changes and processes eg IT policies , risks, services and charges.

After a while, I resigned from the company as I knew that the vicious cycle of politicking will never end even though I love the job scope over there.

Fortunately, I have already found an permanent IT job in one of the Swiss Investment Bank. It was fine during the first and second year and due to the career “mobility program” that the company has implemented across all departments and also based on my good performance – eventually I moved over to a permanent role called London Trade Support which required night shift duties.

Everything went smooth sailing until the year 2009 when Lehman went down which led to Asian financial crisis but there is minimal impact on my firm as they do not need any bailout from the government.

Surprisingly, they made an announcement in May 2009 that the whole operation department - which consisted of 200 plus mostly-local headcount – will be deployed by departmental level to India,

By Oct 2009, many cheaper faster Indian foreigners were sitting side by side with us for hands-on training conducted by soon-to-be-jobless local Singaporeans. The feeling is sickening to say the least.

Next, the management informed us to do a mobility interview so that we could be re deployed to India.

Many of us were also unsure how the mobility interview will turn out as it is perceived as a political game played to smoothen the attrition process. Ultimately, I believe, that most of us will be retrenched in due time.

There is another minority group of people who really struggled to stay afloat by going through the rounds of mobility interviews due to family commitments as they did not want to be jobless during this tough economic period.

Eventually, they also got depressed during this period as they faced competition from fellow colleagues fighting for the few roles which might eventually be also deployed to India. Friends sadly became enemies and I saw the ugly side of humanity here.

As for me, after going through 12 rounds of interviews for 6 different roles and was not eventually selected for even one though I have been working with the firm for 5 years – I felt totally lost and disappointed.

In fact, I am really ashamed of myself for not being able to hold on to a job all this while or tell anyone about my plight – I have totally lost confidence in whatever I do now.

I have been trying to understand the problem in a fair, rational and objective way but nothing could make me feel that anyone here in Singapore has benefited from such an open-door globalization system.

I agreed that we should not be closed up and that globalization is the necessary by product to an increased GDP but our government should not over look the basic needs of local Singaporeans from gaining access to equal employment rights.

I have tactfully raised the issue on the hiring of the Indian foreigners during the deployment exercise and asked the management whether are they really cheaper, faster and better?

Do they work more productively in the workplace or are they simply just cheaper?

Do they really possessed special skill sets and creativity that local home-grown Singaporeans lack?

The only lone answer we got from the management was: “They are cheaper.”

The Indian foreigners have nothing better to offer as they started with zero knowledge in the financial sector – I have to train them from scratch literally.

Not only do they displace our local Singaporeans from basic livelihood but we are also offered little protection from such massive re deployment exercise from our government. It was like you were been sent to the slaughter houses as sheep waiting to be axed and your guard dogs were not anywhere in sight.

I feel that the slew of work permits easily available to employers have effectively enslave Singapore to foreign investors. Its like selling our country away to foreigners out here to make a quick buck from our business-friendly environment.

More can be done to ensure that the basic needs of local Singaporeans are well taken care of first before we open up the flood gates of jobs to foreigners.

If we have to fight with our foreign friends for basic survival rights in our own country, how can I really conscientiously defend my own country when there is a war-like situation?

I don’t even feel belonged in my own country anymore…

Painful experience of a local PMET working in financial sector Life Stories Opinion TEMASEK REVIEW EMERITUS

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