No, it’s not going to protect jobs. It will hasten more job loss, says former NMP Calvin Cheng.
The logic is simple. If you can do your job from home, then anyone anywhere in the world can do the same job as long as he does it just as well.
“Better still if he does that job better and cheaper,” said Calvin.
In a digital world, the competition for jobs is not just from foreigners within your country, it is from foreigners everywhere in the world.
Cancelling free trade agreements, removing quotas and implementing protection measures will not protect local jobs. They will just hasten the loss of jobs, Calvin said.
You lose more than the jobs that can be ‘physically untied’ from their locations, you lose also the jobs that support them.
“This will be even more acute for Singapore, Calvin said, since we have a small domestic market. If jobs don’t have to be in Singapore, then we lose our relevance as a physical hub, he added.
The solution, Calvin suggested, is for Singapore to be a digital hub.
In 1819, modern Singapore was founded as a physical trading hub to connect trade routes.
200 years later, Singapore has to quickly transform ourselves into a digital trading hub to connect the world.
The location of Chinese and American internet regional HQs in Singapore is an important step towards this goal.
And Singaporeans have to re-align their mental frameworks to make themselves relevant to the entire world.
Protectionism will just make them lose their relevance even faster.
– Calvin Cheng –