SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Wednesday (September 15) that he was pleased that MEPs took a “firm and unequivocal stance against racism and xenophobia” during a 10-hour debate in Parliament.
The MP “firmly rejected attempts to use Singaporeans’ fears and anxieties to divide and weaken us,” Lee said in a Facebook post, adding that it “bodes well” for Singapore’s future.
Early on Wednesday morning, Parliament adopted a motion by Finance Minister Lawrence Wong secure the jobs and livelihoods of Singaporeans, after a 10-hour debate that began on Tuesday afternoon and continued after midnight.
Parliament also rejected a rival motion by NCMP Leong Mun Wai (PSP), which called on the government to “take urgent and concrete action to address widespread concerns among Singaporeans about jobs and livelihoods caused by foreign talent policy”.
The motions were debated together but voted on separately.
Mr Lee said that 10-hour debate was important.
“At stake was not only our policy on foreigners, but the values of our society, our trust and determination to face an insecure world and move forward together,” he said.
“Foreigners who live and work here contribute to our economy and society. They are very much a part of our local community,” the Prime Minister added.
Wong’s motion acknowledged Singaporeans’ concerns about jobs and competition in a “globalized and rapidly changing economy”, while reaffirming Singapore’s need to be open to the world.
It also called on Parliament to support the government’s action to deal with the foreign workforce and to update its policies to ensure the well-being and livelihood of Singaporeans.
The motion also deplores “attempts to spread misinformation about free trade agreements such as the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), arouse racism and xenophobia and cause fear and anxiety among Singaporeans”.
Mr Leong denied that it existed “Racist and xenophobic undertones” to his arguments against foreign professionals and free trade agreements, including CECA.