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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs             23  July 2011

Singapore needs foreign talent

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Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said Singapore would not be able to move forward if it were to depend on talent from its own population.

He was speaking at a dialogue to wrap up the two-day South Asian Diaspora convention in Singapore on Friday.

DBS Bank's CEO Piyush Gupta posted a question to Mr. Lee, asking just how big the issue of attracting foreign talent in Singapore is, having noted that it was a hot topic during the recent General Election.

Mr. Lee felt it was an issue among Singaporeans even before the election.

Mr. Lee said: "For some time, the Singaporean has felt the competition from talented foreigners. But these are people who have come here to become our citizens and I am a firm believer that the more talent that you have in a society, the better the society will grow.

"If Singapore depends on the talent it can produce out of three million people, it's not going to punch above its weight. It's because we have been drawing talent from across the globe - South Asia, Northeast Asia, China, India and beyond that - you have a vibrant economy which is way beyond what three million Singaporeans with the talent they can produce can do.

So you've got to accept the discomfort, which the local citizens fear that they are competing unequally for jobs. (It) cannot be helped.”

"But without them, the jobs will not be there to begin with. So welcome talent and we'll continue to welcome talent."

When asked how the political problem associated with the foreign talent issue could be managed, Mr Lee said: "You just have to assuage it.

"What is the choice - slow growth with no input of talent or faster growth with input of talent and the feeling that some of the top jobs are going to the foreigners? You may get no jobs at all if there were no growth."


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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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