Saturday, April 07, 2007

From the ST Forum: 'It's very hard to find good talent in Singapore nowadays,' said HR professional

From the online ST Forum (7 April 2007):

'It's very hard to find good talent in Singapore nowadays,' said HR professional

I ATTENDED a career talk organised by Contact Singapore in Sydney two weeks ago. This event boasted many respectable companies from the banking and financial sector, aiming to give new graduates job opportunities. Overall, the event was informative and encouraging. However, it was marred by an incident that sent shock waves through the conference room.

During the question and answer session, a representative from Morgan Stanley said, 'It is very hard to find good talent in Singapore nowadays' while explaining the need for more 'talent' from overseas. This remark was an insult to every Singaporean attending the event - a verbal slap in the face. It might not have been so offensive had it been a one-to-one talk, but this was an address to an audience of a majority of Singaporeans studying and working in Sydney. The looks on the faces of the Singaporeans present were clear to see. They were of shock, dismay and displeasure.

What is ironic about this incident is that the representative who made the remark happened to be in a senior position in the human resource department of the company. Remind me again what their job scope encompasses? So if this is coming from this part of the company, what does it say about the company as a whole?

I find it ridiculous how local talent is neglected and foreign talent is idolised. Sure, they may have experience from overseas, but are they capable? What can they do that a locally educated person cannot? Surely, they are not worth a quadruple salary compared to a local, simply because they are from overseas. There are some who merit that no doubt, but it is often hastily generalised that employees from overseas are 'foreign talent'. They are foreign but they are not always talent.

Local talent should be recognised and companies that discriminate against the local pool should not be welcome in Singapore. We do not have to take sitting down such disregard for our people. We should never discriminate against our own and we should never allow ourselves to be victimised in any way.

Julian Sng Yeung Liang

Sydney, Australia

Previously, I alluded to the discrimination faced by locals in Singapore here, here and here. You see, unfortunately, Morgan Stanley isn't alone in its view that better talents are to be found overseas. When Singaporeans are viewed as chaff in their homeland, it is no wonder that droves of Singaporeans head overseas to study, work and settle. Being treated as second-class overseas sure beats being viewed as second-rate in Singapore.

It is nice to know that there are those in Sydney who have left Singapore but still remember the discrimination faced by their countrymen in their very own homeland. They may be trying to make or have made it elsewhere but they will never forget.



kwayteowman said...

Personally, the KTM thinks that your previous statement about local students discriminated against viz overseas statement isn't taking into account the big picture.

When companies and PSC wants to do recruitment, they of course want to do more targetted recruitment. Two points: (i) the average quality of the Singaporean students at the top schools abroad are quite certainly higher that that for the local schools; and (ii) the locals are already "captive" mah.

It isn't new to you that "branding" also matters is it? Even if you talk about the US, if you have a fella from Harvard competing with another fella from a lesser known place, the Harvard dude will have an advantage, regardless. NUS/NTU may be a higher ranking than whatever school you are comparing against, but how many people believe those rankings?

Fox said...

The ST Forum letter was about a Contact Singapore event aimed at fresh undergraduates in Sydney.

kwayteowman said...


Apologies. Didn't make clear that the KTM was responding to one of your links and not the cited Forum Letter.

Point is that if you want to cite evidence to support a point, then all the evidence cited should really be good evidence. Simply highlighting that it is not clear that all your evidence cited supports you claim of discrimination, even even if there is so-called discrimination, there might perhaps be a logical explanation for why it's happening.

The world does not this fella from Morgan Stanley make. Actually dun understand why people have to be so upset over this remark. The KTM thinks that people can say what they like.

If we're good, we're good; if we're lousy, we're lousy. Do we need validation from Morgan Stanley? The KTM actually thinks that Singaporeans are seriously insecure and in need of affirmation. :-P

Warmest Regards.

Anonymous said...

fox, if you're overseas, stay there and luo di sheng geng. don't come back to this hole.

actually, i think there might be a valid point in what the hr exec said. bearing in mind, the spore education system is all about grades and mugging, whereas the overseas ones emphasise on skill development in crucial areas, e.g. presentation, thinking-out-of-box, pushing boundaries etc etc.

a lot of our local grads are simply too "conventional" to be considered "talented".

Fox said...


Actually dun understand why people have to be so upset over this remark.

If I had been at the seminar, I might have thought about my family and friends who were still working in Singapore. The Morgan Stanley representative's remark could be taken to mean that my family and friends are not talents.

It could have been taken to mean that I am a talent simply because I left Singapore to go to Sydney to attend university and that my friends who did not leave Singapore are probably not talents.

It also means that if I had not taken the decision or had the means to go study in Sydney, I would have not been one of the talents the Morgan Stanley representative referred to.

And so on.

No wonder people felt upset. I'm also sure that there were some people who thanked the heavens that they left Singapore and were in Sydney.

Anonymous said...

foreign problems. indians swamp and camp and live in hdb residential areas meant for hdb residents. yet nothing is done. it is a hidden problem.