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The subtle erosion of equality

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Postby AngMoG » Thu, 05 Dec 2013 11:00 am

Addadude wrote:Trying to look at this thing from a neutral perspective, I personally know of MNC's that are really taking the p!ss when it comes to their preferences in hiring policies.

One major recruitment company has over the past couple of years almost completely replaced its local staff with caucasians - preferably from the UK.

Another MNC I'm very familiar with has been pretty much been forced by its biggest client (a really huge MNC we've all heard of) to replace its local staff dealing with that particular client with people from a certain sub-continent.

I suspect both companies will have huge problems next year when it comes to renewing EPs.

And it serves them right.


Indeed it does. Such hiring practices are not just discriminatory to SCs, they are just plain racist and should be discouraged in the strongest way possible.

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Postby Strong Eagle » Thu, 05 Dec 2013 12:51 pm

Addadude wrote:Trying to look at this thing from a neutral perspective, I personally know of MNC's that are really taking the p!ss when it comes to their preferences in hiring policies.

One major recruitment company has over the past couple of years almost completely replaced its local staff with caucasians - preferably from the UK.

Another MNC I'm very familiar with has been pretty much been forced by its biggest client (a really huge MNC we've all heard of) to replace its local staff dealing with that particular client with people from a certain sub-continent.

I suspect both companies will have huge problems next year when it comes to renewing EPs.

And it serves them right.


Do you really think it is race based? I don't. You've seen the many posts here about a poor educational system that allows people to pass tests but doesn't teach them to think critically. You've seen the many entitlement posts wherein new SG graduates want a management position that doesn't actually do anything except insert a new layer of nothing between problem and solution.

The companies bring in expat talent because they cannot get what they need in Singapore. It's the same in Malaysia. Bright people, but expectations of being "owed" a job, and no problem solving skills, no view of the big picture, and no real value to a company.

Why otherwise would companies pay for expats with packages if there were so many qualified locals to fill the same positions? Singapore's continued mollycoddling of its population, coupled with this notion that violating the "Asian" way of doing things is not permitted means that the local population simply produces less than an imported expat. Not always, but far too often.

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Postby PrimroseHill » Thu, 05 Dec 2013 1:44 pm

There an entire dept whereby it is all staffed by caucasions; other than one token. I didn't count the secretaries/executive assistants/personal assistant. I am talking the doers :o

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Postby Addadude » Thu, 05 Dec 2013 1:51 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:Do you really think it is race based? .


In a word, yes.

In the case of the recruitment consultancy, the MD, an English lady, had a particular preference for English staff - and a complete dislike of Americans funnily enough. Over the space of 18 months she gradually replaced all her senior staff with caucasians. Far from 'improving the quality' of the services they offered, the new people had great difficulty adapting to the local market or even understanding what their local clients were saying to them. There was a resultant major drop off in business and the MD was replaced. With another English MD. From what I understand, things have not improved.

In the other case I mentioned, the large MNC client had, shall we say, a distinct preference for dealing with people from that certain sub-continent because they themselves were from the sub-continent. (And people say the Japanese are stubborn about adapting to other cultures!)

In both examples, some seriously capable and talented local people lost their jobs as a result of these racial policies. Happily, in the case of the recruitment consultancy, the displaced local staff went on to join other recruitment companies and the original company's clients promptly followed them over.

As I've mentioned before in other posts, I sometimes wonder whether I am living in the same country as other forum members. I have had the pleasure of working and interacting with many, many talented, creative and insightful Singaporeans who have proven themselves to be very capable to say the least. Now, it could be because the profession I'm in happens to attract the kinds of people who are creative, independent thinkers by nature or it could simply be that I am not prepared to make sweeping statements about an entire nation not being able to produce people who can think critically or creatively.

Is Singapore lacking talent in certain areas? Certainly. That's why so many of us are here after all. So it's probably something we should be grateful for.

As to your point about new SG graduates with entitlement issues - well let's be fair. It's hardly a uniquely Singapore problem. The challenges of dealing with "Millennials" seem to be pretty much global!
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Postby Wd40 » Thu, 05 Dec 2013 2:00 pm

PrimroseHill wrote:There an entire dept whereby it is all staffed by caucasions; other than one token. I didn't count the secretaries/executive assistants/personal assistant. I am talking the doers :o


Have a look at the banking recruitment sector. Almost all recruiters in my linked contacts especially from the likes of Robert walters is a caucasian.
My guess is these big firms want to hire the best and the best are often the caucasians. Not saying that Singaporeans are not good, but when you can hire a star recruiter from the UK who will definitely do better business than a local, then why not. The hiring managers or directors in banks of the likes of Barclays are also often caucasians and these caucasian recruiters are better at building relationships with the hiring managers.

There are also lots of Indian recruiters who speak with a western accent mind you. Locals are squeezed out. Thats the peril of having a open market based economy.

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Postby x9200 » Thu, 05 Dec 2013 2:58 pm

Addadude wrote:[..]it could simply be that I am not prepared to make sweeping statements about an entire nation not being able to produce people who can think critically or creatively.

It is surely a gross generalization but getting to the point I think it is more about discouragement or lack of habit and not the capability.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 05 Dec 2013 3:13 pm

Within the recruitment industry, I would have to say it depends on both your industry and your clients, whether primarily Western MNCs or local SME/RMNCs. In the firm I used to work for, I was the token Ang Mo (all the rest S'porean Chinese including the owner - and he was lgbt to boot!) I was his ticket. Being the only Caucasian in the company, I was his way past the local receptionist to the western PM/CEO/MD as the case may be. He wanted to penetrate the O&G and Major International Construction companies but being Chinese educated, found his English wanting. While not British, my background in Offshore Construction and the O&G industries in general more than made up for my Yank English, which most spoke anyway. It was a good gig for me as I had no competition within the company and I had a lot more than a cursory idea of the industry.

But here is where I have to part company with addadude re locals (and I know some good ones - don't get me wrong) the majority aren't worth a spit. At least in those industries that I'm familiar with. Useless Unless! They had an overseas education (not Ivy league or Oxford/Cambridge but anywhere in a western country AND worked overseas for a period of around 2 years. Better still, a Polytechnic diploma holder who went overseas for three years and got the full degree. These guys are good. Better in fact than the average 4 year Uni graduate with 2 or 3 years experience locally (I can only speak on hard engineering - I know nuts about the financial or IT industries). The majority of local engineers, with local degrees, all expect to be nothing but project engineers and wear a white shirt and tie and spend the day in a air conditioned office. Go on site? :o Heaven forbid. But as I've said, there are some good Singaporeans in these industries, but one needs to go through sooo many to find one. Therefore, it's much easier to bring in a foreigner with experience and who doesn't mind slogging it out in the heat/cold/wet/dry weather (all on the same day if necessary). It got so bad it was one of the reasons I got out of headhunting completely. The local companies didn't help much either. You get a call asking for an engineer and you bust your hump finding 3 suitable engineers (I never send more than 3, if I sent that many). The client calls back saying they are all asking too much money and they only need to be diploma holders. D'oh! So, you have to learn to ask them if they want engineers or technicians. They'll say, I want engineers. So you have to ask, "Must they be able to sign off on changes and completions?" If they say no, then you know they are looking for technicians and not really Engineers. They call them Engineers so they get face if not more money (the Position title in the contract and on their business card is worth more than the money), so you get an education (6th sense) when reading engineering CVs from locals as well, learning to read between the lines so you don't get burned.

But, I do think that in certain industries it does lend itself to race-centric departments, and I have to say that it can be both a good thing and a bad thing depending on who's controlling the strings. When all of a single race are in a closed department, it does make a meeting of the minds much easier but also can have disadvantages as well, especially if all foreign. I don't see HR as being to blame and all like to postulate, but I do blame it on the end users and they may be using HR to get their way.

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Postby AndrewV » Fri, 06 Dec 2013 10:18 am

Strong Eagle wrote:
Addadude wrote:Trying to look at this thing from a neutral perspective, I personally know of MNC's that are really taking the p!ss when it comes to their preferences in hiring policies.

One major recruitment company has over the past couple of years almost completely replaced its local staff with caucasians - preferably from the UK.

Another MNC I'm very familiar with has been pretty much been forced by its biggest client (a really huge MNC we've all heard of) to replace its local staff dealing with that particular client with people from a certain sub-continent.

I suspect both companies will have huge problems next year when it comes to renewing EPs.

And it serves them right.


Do you really think it is race based? I don't. You've seen the many posts here about a poor educational system that allows people to pass tests but doesn't teach them to think critically. You've seen the many entitlement posts wherein new SG graduates want a management position that doesn't actually do anything except insert a new layer of nothing between problem and solution.

The companies bring in expat talent because they cannot get what they need in Singapore. It's the same in Malaysia. Bright people, but expectations of being "owed" a job, and no problem solving skills, no view of the big picture, and no real value to a company.

Why otherwise would companies pay for expats with packages if there were so many qualified locals to fill the same positions? Singapore's continued mollycoddling of its population, coupled with this notion that violating the "Asian" way of doing things is not permitted means that the local population simply produces less than an imported expat. Not always, but far too often.


you are generalizing based on what you see in HWZ TRS and other such keyboard-warrior filled xenophbic websites, there are a lot of smart people who can actually get the job done pretty well (i have met such people during the course of my work). The issue is of making the playing field such that capability takes precedence. By all means if there is no one suited for the role the FCF allows for bringing someone in, but all things being equal (capability too), then it is not unreasonable for singaporeans to be given precedence (as is practiced in a lot of developed countries).

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Postby AndrewV » Fri, 06 Dec 2013 10:19 am

Addadude wrote:
Strong Eagle wrote:Do you really think it is race based? .


In a word, yes.

In the case of the recruitment consultancy, the MD, an English lady, had a particular preference for English staff - and a complete dislike of Americans funnily enough. Over the space of 18 months she gradually replaced all her senior staff with caucasians. Far from 'improving the quality' of the services they offered, the new people had great difficulty adapting to the local market or even understanding what their local clients were saying to them. There was a resultant major drop off in business and the MD was replaced. With another English MD. From what I understand, things have not improved.

In the other case I mentioned, the large MNC client had, shall we say, a distinct preference for dealing with people from that certain sub-continent because they themselves were from the sub-continent. (And people say the Japanese are stubborn about adapting to other cultures!)

In both examples, some seriously capable and talented local people lost their jobs as a result of these racial policies. Happily, in the case of the recruitment consultancy, the displaced local staff went on to join other recruitment companies and the original company's clients promptly followed them over.

As I've mentioned before in other posts, I sometimes wonder whether I am living in the same country as other forum members. I have had the pleasure of working and interacting with many, many talented, creative and insightful Singaporeans who have proven themselves to be very capable to say the least. Now, it could be because the profession I'm in happens to attract the kinds of people who are creative, independent thinkers by nature or it could simply be that I am not prepared to make sweeping statements about an entire nation not being able to produce people who can think critically or creatively.

Is Singapore lacking talent in certain areas? Certainly. That's why so many of us are here after all. So it's probably something we should be grateful for.

As to your point about new SG graduates with entitlement issues - well let's be fair. It's hardly a uniquely Singapore problem. The challenges of dealing with "Millennials" seem to be pretty much global!


i fully agree with this. well said

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Postby Wd40 » Fri, 06 Dec 2013 11:19 am

AndrewV wrote: The issue is of making the playing field such that capability takes precedence. By all means if there is no one suited for the role the FCF allows for bringing someone in, but all things being equal (capability too), then it is not unreasonable for singaporeans to be given precedence (as is practiced in a lot of developed countries).


AndrewV, unfortunately, what works in developed countries cannot work in Singapore. In developed countries, its their own companies and these countries are self reliant. For example, Barclays in the UK is British bank and the UK gahmen can impose strict rules for Barclays to hire British only even if they are more expensive than foreigners. Barclays being a British bank cant do much, it can move some job abroad but not all.

Now come bank to Singapore. What companies are really your own companies, except for an odd Singtel, Starhub, OCBC, DBS, Keppel, Sembccorp. To these companies you can force them to hire SIngaporeans and take a hit on their cost and profit. But if they tell this to Barclays, Barclays will just show middle finger and move all jobs out of the city.


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