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Mr. Tan VIII – Protectionism? February 18, 2009

Posted by The Truth in Mr. Tan.
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Mr. Tan was reading the Straits Times when he came across this letter on protectionism (actually Mr. Tan only reads the Forum.)

And Mr. Tan said: Why must Singapore guard extremely against protectionism?  Is not a government’s first responsibility towards its citizens?  And Mr. Tan said that although Governmental steps towards helping its own people first were laudable, more could be done.  Mr. Tan said, “of course protectionism per se is bad for the people.  But does not the Government have a responsibility to help those in need?  The Government should get its own house in order before agreeing to purely help others.”

“True, we need foreign help.  But we need to set a standard to make sure that not every mother son is hired!  We need people who can help the country, not people who will leave when they see that conditions are not so good for them.  Singaporeans are already leaving, because they see that the help they need is not coming, or that people are given scholarships whereas they have to serve NS, get a huge bank loan for university, and much more.  What’s more, when we’re not wanted anymore, the Government tells us go retire in Malaysia because it’s cheaper!  Not that it doesn’t help my wallet – but i feel that the country doesn’t want me anymore since i am not economically viable anymore!”

Then, Mr. Tan came to this section:

If the Singaporean Government enacts policies that discriminate against foreign workers and PRs in the midst of an international call for continuing global free trade policies, would it not amount to the protectionist policies that Singapore must avoid?

Mr. Tan said: “So these are the protectionist policies that Singapore must avoid.  But must Singapore avoid protectionism?  The argument is not good, in that it accepts what the Government says as gospel truth.  If we avoid some kind of protectionism now, then what’s to prevent firms from hiring others who may not cost so much as a Singpaorean would expect?  Then what would happen to Singaporeans?  That the Government says that we must avoid this policy doesn’t mean that the policy is per se sound. It would be unwise to accept such a statement as it is as truth.  Protectionism must be expressed to a certain extent, because this is politics, not some textbook exercise you can use.  The opinion of the people should matter, but are we treated as if our opinions matter?”

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