Foreign vs local workers?

By looking at the graphic above, it’s easily more than 50,000 jobs available for locals. I happened to come across that picture last Saturday. Surely, locals are spoilt for choice. There are more than enough jobs for all of us. So it seems that the locals are a pampered lot.

Before I attract any hate comments or public lynching, let me state from the onset, I strongly support “Singaporeans first” policy based on the principle of ceteris paribus.

Let me relate an incident which happened quite some time ago to illustrate my statement that locals are a pampered lot.

It’s my habit to drink a glass of beer after my late night shift before I call it a day. I usually enjoy my chilled beer at one corner of the coffee shop whilst I read or surf the net. Some time ago, I went to West Plaza which is the nearest 24 hr coffee shop to my place.

There were two old ladies in uniform in their early 60s at the counter of S11 24-hour coffee shop in West Plaza. It was about 1am. Not much customers.

I was the only customer standing in front of the counter. I waited a while but both pretended they didn’t see see, as if I was transparent. One of them was busy washing glasses. Only few glasses but she took an exaggerated long time to do the washing and then arranging and re-arranging other items.

The other old lady made herself busy by stocking up the drinks in the fridge. After that, she went on to check those pao or buns in the small hot cubicle. She started doing some cleaning here and there oblivious my presence.

I was still standing there observing both of them trying to keep themselves busy inside the counter. Both of them thinking one of them would entertain me but none came forward. I then raised my voice and asked in Mandarin for a beer.

One of them nearest to me reluctantly enquired what beer I would like to buy? The whole conversation in Mandarin went like this.

“What beer do you want? Are you drinking here?”

“I want a Tiger beer. Yes, I’m drinking here pls.”

“Do you want some ice?”

“Yes, I would like to have some ice.”

The glum faced old lady who appeared more fitting to be a dishwater or a cleaner since she didn’t smile, didn’t greet customers and didn’t say thank you when I paid her, started preparing for my beer by getting a glass with some ice thrown in.

Suddenly, she asked me a stupid question. “Do you want to open?” meaning to open the beer bottle cover.

I answered her “if you don’t open the bottle cover, how am I to drink?”

Instead of quietly doing what she was supposed to do by opening the beer bottle cover, she retorted in a loud voice by saying that, “how would I know? Sometimes customers want to bring back the whole bottle home to drink?”

“Well, I told you earlier that I’m drinking the beer here. It’s understood that you need to open the cap for me to drink!”

The old lady, obviously was a local still insisted that she was right by saying that some customers didn’t want to open their beer bottle cover even though they drink in the premises cuz they brought along their can or bottle opener. KNN! That made me more angry.

“Hey you talking nonsense, how many of us go around carrying a bottle opener? You think I’m a beer promoter is it?”

That ignited her CB mouth rattling away like a machine gun non-stop by saying there are all kinds of unreasonable demanding customers thinking that they got some money can abuse people like her, if got standard won’t drink at coffee shop, go to pub or lounge to drink lah yada yada … Really langgar!

“Hey old lady, you just give me that beer with a glass, some ice and open the cap. Dont talk so much ok? Why are you so unhappy? If you are not happy working here, then don’t work here.”

Let me relate another incident. This time is also S11 coffee shop at Jurong East Central. I wonder why only S11 employs inebriated locals in their 60s?

I ordered my food and was carrying my bag. If I didn’t order my food yet or didn’t carry my bag, I would usually go to the counter to order my coffee. Since the counter was quite far away and I didn’t want to leave my food and bag unattended, I had to look for a runner (waiter) for my coffee.

There are usually four runners in this large coffee shop. They wear the same uniform. I noticed three of them sitting together having their meal break taking their own time having a leisurely conversation. One of them finished her food early and started smoking.

The fourth runner was on the hand phone talking non-stop. In the meantime, I started eating my food and keeping a lookout for her to stop talking. About 10 mins later she stopped talking on her handphone. I quickly wave my hand at her. She saw me momentarily but turned around to talk to another person.

I had no choice but walked to that runner whilst keeping an eye on my food and bag. I asked her to get me a coffee and at the same time pointing out my seat to her.

After I’ve finished my food, my coffee still wasn’t here. When I was about to leave, the coffee came. I told her I didn’t want it anymore cuz I got no time. I had to go back to work. That runner – middle aged lady got angry and said that she already paid for my coffee at the counter. If I didn’t want the coffee I ordered earlier, she had to bear the cost.

“Oh earlier you were talking non-stop on the phone. When I waved at you, you pretended not to see me. In fact, I would prefer to go to the counter to get the coffee myself rather than depend on you.”

That lady was quite fierce spoiling for a fight. She challenged me to complain against her when I told her that I snapped a picture of her talking on the phone. She remarked that she could immediately land herself another job if gets an immediate dismissal.

For more than a year, I did not patronize the first coffee shop any more. Sometimes, I just buy a can of beer and sit at the void deck to enjoy my beer. As for the second coffee shop, I now order my coffee at the counter personally. Those counter runners are not relevant to me anymore. It’s a waste of money employing them.

Compared to those Fillipino runners at the air-conditioned food court above Sheng Siong in Elias Mall, their working attitude is second to none. Before I could begin eating, one of the two Fillipino runners would quickly approach me. “Sir, do you want any drink?” Excellent customer service, efficient and courteous. The Filipinos scan around the food court like hawks and swoop down on customers once they settle down to take drink orders. It used to employ Malaysian girls. Not anymore. Go to Elias Mall second level food court to see for yourself.

As a customer and an employer, which type of workers would you prefer? Does it matter whether they are locals or foreigners? The end service delivery is the deciding factor.

Ceteris paribus, employers, customers and even the government would prefer locals for own different reasons. Customers find it easier to communicate with locals, employers need not pay levy or maintain quota if they hire locals and the government is happy that locals are fully employed. Unfortunately, the real situation as in the above cases quoted do not reflect the ideal scenario.

Most of our locals have lost some of our forefathers’ discipline, work ethics and pride in their jobs. They are pampared and spoilt with the abundance of jobs and the tightening of foreigners seeking employment. They do not appreciate or value their jobs like in those days when jobs were scarce and you needed connections to land a full time work. Those foreigners appreciated and valued their jobs here cuz they had no jobs back home even if they were willing to work for less.

Just go to the few coffee shops around Blk 58 New Upper Changi and check for yourself. The runners working inside or outside the counter are all PRCs. The odd ones are due to quota where bosses have no choice but to keep them on their payroll. Those PRCs are working very long hours doing everything including mopping the floor when customers are few. They are young, energetic and efficient.

At any time, tens of hundreds are always waiting outside a factory in China or India ready for any job offer. In such a scenario, will those working inside that factory exhibit similar negative work attitudes in my earlier two quoted cases?

What I am trying to say here is that why should we give the bosses any excuse to get foreigners to replace us? We need to work better than those foreigners since they are also here fighting for jobs on our own turf. Do we need bosses like that “Fool” to go on national TV and declare that $3,000 still can’t get dishwashers?

The above observations are all around us if only you care to look around with eyes wide open. Sometimes, we just can’t accept the truth. Some of us just can’t handle the truth. What do you think? Remember this: Nobody owes you a living. There is no free lunch.

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About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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26 Responses to Foreign vs local workers?

  1. Sgcynic says:

    From the middle of your article onwards, I thought you were writing about the MIW.

  2. Layla says:

    Ya, I came to this observation at my work coffee shop. ( it’s the only one I frequent so don’t really observe the rest )
    There are 2 locals are 1 prc runner that I remember.
    1 local is an unpleasant man. Perhaps he’s not 100% normal.
    Another one is a lady , she’s quite ok but sometimes she grouses to us.
    The PRC man is perfectly fine-
    If they didn’t approach us to ask what we wanted to drink , I would avoid calling over the unpleasant local man, preferring to call over the rest.
    Probably the low pay attracts the otherwise unemployable and they probably feel they are justified in behaving as such since the pay is so low.

  3. S11 says:

    Since it does not matter whether the workers are locals or foreigners as the end service delivery is the deciding factor, I think we should let all foreigners such as PRCs and Fillipinos to replace all locals from smrt, hospitals, the government etcs from the ceo all the way down to the cleaners since they are more hardworking and provide better customer services.

  4. Hey, I got the same impression of S11 people. So rude. That’s why I never patronise them.

  5. theonion says:

    Interesting that there is no support of such shops considering they mainly hire locals due to poor service/attitude.
    Would have thought since screaming blue murder that such shops should be supported come rain and shine.
    Have a good day.

  6. ape@kinjioleaf says:

    When you in debt for a job, with family waiting to be fed with your paychecks, will you work harder? Knowing that should you lose your job, you won’t find another without incurring another debt, will you work even harder?

    I used to patronize either coffeeshops that is located at either ends of a block. On the left was male PRC runners. On the right was female PRC runners. All were very hardworking in the first year. Attitude changed by the second. That’s my experience.

  7. This is Anfield says:

    What the rude woman said (about easily getting another job) is true to some extent if she is a Singaporean. Walk around the shopping malls and food courts, and you’ll see lots of job vacancies specifying ‘Singaporean or PR’ because of the tightening of foreign worker employment. Don’t complain when your cup of coffee at the local coffeeshop goes past $1.

  8. patriot says:

    For good service by locals,
    please visit the coffeeshop at
    Blk 138 Tampines St 11.

    All staff by local ah sohs and
    ah cheks.

    So, i gather the manager or
    management maybe responsible
    for the quality of the staff.


    • Scary says:

      You are correct. It is how the top train and treat the worker. The same goes down stream…

  9. Anonymous says:

    Did you also get very good service from that Singaporean in the ministry?

  10. Fred Lester says:

    Anonymous, please clarify what you mean when you said “Did you also get very good service from that Singaporean in the ministry?”

    • Scary says:

      the way you question is very scary. Maybe the person got bad experience lor…

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  12. Dumbdumb says:

    actually it does not matter what nationality they are. there are good service from local aunties as well as good service from people from elsewhere and vice versa. To make such a comments is like no difference from MIW past comments. Just my 2cents, peace to all.

  13. SG Girl says:

    Gintai, perhaps you have yet to frequent other coffee shops served by hardworking locals. My experience with them are good (not S11). They will come to you for orders if they see you have not ordered. Here are some of my experience with other retails:

    The Watson I frequented has lately employed many Filipinos. They like to talk among themselves while servicing customers to the extend that one even passed me the receipt while her head was turned to her left, talking and laughing to her colleague (who’s also serving customers). All like to hide in their tiny office and let the poor lone PRC guy handle the counter (and the queue was long). When the PRC guy hit the bell (indicating help needed at the counter), one Filipino took 10mins to come out and complained why the guy was so impatient.

    At Mcdonald’s, two staff were clearing and cleaning tables. An old lady in her 70s was diligently clearing and cleaning the tables while another Filipino was chatting with her friend for at least 20mins. During this while, the old lady had been walking around the premise to spot uncleared tables and took action right away.

    My best experience would be at Soup Restaurant. They hired locals, Malaysians and PRCs. All are friendly and courteous to customers. The plus for local and Malaysians is they could speak dialects which I like when ordering Chinese food. I guess the company trains the staff well or maybe they give rewards to motivate their staff. Would like to know how they train and motivate their staff to provide good service.

    To say that locals have bad working attitude is unfair. Likewise, I have also experienced acceptable services from PRCs and Filipinos in other areas.

  14. Warrior says:

    Remember this – The fish stinks from the head downwards!! It is not right to overgeneralise your 2 encounters and the human mind tends to work with confirmation bias.

    • No generalization at all. Two encounters do not really reflect the entire local workers is a truth that every retard knows. It’s just two examples I quote to highlight my points I’m deliberating not to give an excuse for foreigners to replace us. Most of us, I notice do not read beyond the lines let alone thoroughly. Sigh!

  15. georgewong says:

    I think this is an insightful article. It poses important questions. I don’t want to pay more and get worse service. I don’t see why we have to discriminate against immigrants – we should hire people who want to work and do a good job, regardless of where they come from.

  16. Remy says:

    We have good attitude Singaporean workers and we have bad attitude Singaporean workers. Being better educated Singaporeans that hold management level should be able to influence and educate Singaporeans who have bad working attitude. Employer should adopt “Singaporeans first” because the sons of all SIngaporeans has a stake here. The management should be hold responsible.
    I am not sure the purpose of this testimonial and will not change my opinion towards the empolyers and policies that lead to massive exploitation of Singaporeans workers given a mass pool of cheap labours from oversea, commonly known as Foreign Talent.

    • Exactly, we can’t change the mindset of our rulers. They already said that they will be bringing in more to hit 6 million! Our low fertility rate will never hit the target of 6 million. The only way is to bring in more to reach that 6 million target from our existing 5.2 million!
      In the face of this relentless onslaught, all of us need to fight back to claim our livelihood by being better and more efficient than those FTs. Businesses do not discriminate locals or foreigners. They base on bottom line only. Remember there are retards – representatives of businesses, going around claiming that $3,000 can’t get local dishwater. If you are observant enough, you will know what I’m saying. Bear in mind, no one owes us a living nor is there any free lunch. This is the grime reality in life.
      Do you want to dig your grave given the fact there are lots of cheap labour around? Do you want them to replace you? Do you still want to keep your rice bowl? These are questions we need to ask in the meantime until the next time you are given the option to decide your rulers or who will rule over you? Got it?

      • “Businesses do not discriminate locals or foreigners. They base on bottom line only. ” Very very true. Who cheapest, do most, does not take MC, gets the job, keeps the job.

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  18. Max says:

    Did you see an old man serving a younger woman when you look into her eyes? Did you see yourself working in a beer shop until this old age?

    When I see old people working I’m so extremely sad one day this person would be me next. Use the power of your pen to motivate and energize the masses for higher purposes.

  19. agongkia says:

    On that west coast kopitiam,if I am the customer ,maybe I will say that there is a possibility that the 2 elderly attendants are actually hard working ,dedicated ,could be the best and most loyal employee because who knows,maybe they want to take care of their employer’s rice bowl .
    Maybe their license to sell beer ended at 2359 hour and when I approach them ,they have difficulty to sell me at 0100 hour.If they sell ,their towkay may got fine or lost the license.If they dun sell,worry I may scold them.So to protect their towkay’s interest and not to offend customers,the best is to ignore and hope that customer that look like chew kwee like me to go away.
    Maybe I look like a Pretty Authoritative Person or Sar Kar and could be a cheng hoo larng or informer testing whether they comply by not selling beer after certain hour.
    I do not blame them if they dun sell me beer at this hour to me.Maybe they oso worry I blog on those selling beer after certain hour.I may say they are doing their job.As a Singaporean ,I must be considerate.

    But I can ask for Liang Teh.Sure they will not ask me whether I want to open the can or not.
    Sorry,my brain a bit different,maybe I am wrong.

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