SDP’s leader, Dr Chee Soon Juan posted this on his Facebook recently:
In case it doesn’t load, it is a picture that shows two quotes. One of the quotes is from Minister Khaw Boon Wan in 2013, where he told 160 youths at one of the “Our Singapore Conversation” dialogues: “If they cannot find jobs, what is the point? You own a degree, but so what? That you can’t eat it. If that cannot give you a good life, a good job, it is meaningless”. Another quote is from Dr Vivian Balakrishnan when he visited Indonesia on 12 Jan 2016. The quote shown in the picture reads: “We believe Indonesian universities and technical institutes will produce many graduates which… Singapore companies – which are looking for talent – will be able to recruit…”
Dr Chee then asked in his caption to the post: “Don’t they discuss these things during cabinet meetings before speaking in public?” Dr Chee’s caption suggests that he thinks Dr Vivian’s comment in 2016 and Minister Khaw’s in 2013 are contradictory.
It appears that a number of people, after seeing this post, share Dr Chee’s sentiments. For example, one comment reads: “Some time I really don’t know what the government is saying ,one say not point having so many SG U graduate because can’t find job but the other one say need more graduate from Indonesia to fill up job , who r they voted to serve Singaporean or foreign ???”
Some people used this as another indication that Singapore has a liberal immigration policy at the expense of Singaporeans. For example, one comment reads: “Vivian bala (sic) wants singaporeans to be hawker while they recruit foreign grads.”
However, the way Dr Chee presented these two quotes is actually rather deceitful. Firstly, while he did quote Dr Vivian, he took the quote completely out of context and deliberately left out some very relevant parts of what Dr Vivian said. This is the entirety of what Dr Vivian said: “We believe Indonesian universities and technical institutes will produce many graduates with digital skills and we are thinking of launching a scheme, in which Singapore companies – which are looking for talent – will be able to recruit talent here, deploy them here, and provide services for the rest of the world”
Given that Dr Vivian was in Indonesia when he made that comment, it is clear that the “here” in Dr Vivian’s comment referred to Indonesia. It is obvious then that what Dr Vivian meant was that Singapore is thinking of launching a scheme where Singapore companies who want set up operations in Indonesia, and want to recruit and deploy staff in Indonesia can recruit Indonesian graduates with digital skills. What’s wrong with that? Most companies that set up operations in other countries will recruit staff who are citizens of that country. Surely we don’t expect a Singaporean company which wants to set up operations in Indonesia to strictly use Singaporeans, right? Surely they would have to recruit some Indonesians, right? So Dr Vivian’s comment in no way meant that we are recruiting foreigners to displace Singaporeans from jobs in Singapore. Thus there is absolutely no contradiction with what Minister Khaw said in 2013.
Why did Dr Chee choose to quote Dr Vivian out of context and deliberately leave out such important parts of Dr Vivian’s comments? It surely cannot be an honest mistake, right? I personally think that this is a very deceitful act. If you want to criticise the government, sure. By all means. But be factual, have rigorous analysis. Don’t do it by misleading the public. What Dr Chee did calls his integrity into question. If Dr Chee can deliberately quote Dr Vivian out of context and also leave out important parts of the comments, has he done similar things to mislead Singaporeans in the past? What else would he do in the future to mislead Singaporeans?
I think (I hope) that those who aren’t diehard anti-PAP Singaporeans would come out to express their condemnation for such acts. Some people already have done so in the comments to Dr Chee’s post. I hope more would. Such misleading posts should not be allowed to go uncorrected. We are better than this sort of gutter politics.