Saturday, August 16, 2008

Foreigners: Boon or bane?

“I feel foreign in my own country.”

This sentence has been lamented by many Singaporeans recently. If you were to look at coffeeshop helpers, waitresses, students, teachers, bus drivers, sports athletes and neighbours around you, foreigners are everywhere.

Schooling pupils are feeling the heat of academic pressures from more competent foreign students.

University students often have to settle for 2nd class results as Asian scholars from China, Vietnam, India bagged all the As.

A friend who is working as a cook complained about low pay and long hours as his Malaysian colleagues work harder and longer hours for even lower pay. Employers prefer to employ them as they do not have to go for reservist as well!

A drive along Geylang showed that many steamboat shops have sprouted recently, majority being owned by China nationals.

Even Malaysian bus drivers from SBS face increasing competition from China bus drivers brought over to mitigate the shortage of bus drivers in Singapore.

I went to Ang Mo Kio S11 for dinner and I saw pretty China babes selling beer. It did occur to us (I was with friends) to buy beer and chat up with them, though we didn’t!

I have many new neighbours and colleagues from China as well. Many eventually gave up their China citizenship and become Singaporeans.

A friend from the education sector also confirmed that PRC teachers are employed from Primary school to university levels to teach Chinese. I believe this is true also, considering the small number of Singaporeans competent enough to teach Chinese when majority cannot even string a Chinese sentence properly without the aid of English.

So does this mean we should hate them?

I do understand the frustration of many Singaporeans who view foreigners, particularly PRCs in negative light because of their intrusion to our space, culture, jobs and perhaps even families. Many speak in their dialects in public areas in which though sounds familiar but even more irritating.

If you feel that way, I guess you are not alone.

However, from an investment perspective, the influx of migrants into Singapore is necessary for local businesses to increase revenue.
For instance, the Straits Times claims that it has been able to retain daily readership of 1.3m, comparable 10 years ago. Well, the percentage of readership has dropped at least by 30%, if they had indicated that our population was 3m in 1998, compared to 4m today.

I believe foreigners helped to sustain their readership numbers, together with their advertising revenue and share prices.

Our telcos also benefited from foreigners’ dollars. Starhub cable TV is likely to attract most PRCs, Hongkongers and Malaysians to subscribe to its service.

Pre paid cards, will go well with foreign students, maids and contract workers.

Overseas calls revenue has increased tremendously over the years for the same reasons.

Singpost has also benefited from the increased population. More mail volume has been generated from businesses to consumers over the years due to our trend of increasing foreigners’ population.

The rental market for property has been buoyant due to foreign students and workers too. This translates to better returns in the property counters for the past few years.

The list can go on, but really, a higher population should translate to higher revenue to businesses.

Take note that inflation will have to go up too. Should our “China-Singaporean” athletes win a gold medal in table-tennis tomorrow, they will have one million dollars to spend. All things remaining equal, it will create more demand for fewer goods, thus fuelling inflation here. If they decide to send their money back, selling Sing dollars for RMB, it will theoretically hasten depreciation of Sing dollars, again fuelling inflation of imported goods. The effects will of course be negligible, but if we are talking about all the foreigners in Singapore doing the same thing, I cannot say for sure if the effects will not considerable.

No, I am not against foreigners or anything. I know I don't sound convincing, but I am speaking from a neutral stand on foreigners. Honestly, the financial gains they bring to our personal investments are immeasurable. Since nothing can be done no matter how much we dislike them, might as well enjoy the financial returns they provide us?

I do hope they spend more here, buy more stocks here and improve our economy and pockets.

It does not make financial sense to be jealous that they can be one of us without going through NS or reservist; neither will it do any good to ostracize them as many are really capable.

I rather find it more worthwhile to face them, learn from them and if possible, make money from
them! Hence, do look out for businesses that will be benefiting from these migrants!


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Anonymous said...

msIt will be difficult to make money from them as their sole purpose is to make money from us when they come here. Also, they are hungry enough to argue with you over a dollar for hours so chances are you would not have the time to haggle with them.