Good HR Practices Ought To Be Recognised: SMS Chee Hong Tat

Chee Hong Tat

Foreign HR Manager to Interviewee: “You spent two years with SAF, what is SAF?”

In his Keynote Address at a virtual masterclass event by Human Capital Singapore on the key trends impacting Singapore’s economy, Senior Minister of State and Deputy Secretary-General of NTUC, Mr Chee Hong Tat shared an anecdote from a Parliamentary colleague. An interviewee attended a job interview with an MNC, and was asked “You wrote in your CV that you spent two years with the SAF, what is SAF?” SMS Chee also spoke of how the interviewee was almost in tears when he related this story.

This clearly showed that the foreign HR manager was unfamiliar with Singapore and our culture. “What is SAF?” One can only imagine the hurt this interviewee felt.

Does the company not have a local HR manager who could do the interviewing and hiring?

“I am puzzled how this HR manager can be responsible for interviewing and hiring Singaporean workers when he is not even familiar with our country and culture.” SMS Chee shared. More than 80% of our HR professionals in Singapore are locals, does the company not have a local HR manager who could do the interviewing and hiring? Or if it is a foreign HR manager, could it not be someone who has been in Singapore for some time, and understands our country’s culture and social norms? The points brought up by SMS Chee were valid. Despite multiple assurances from the Government and their statistics on our workforce, these “lived experiences” of Singaporean workers and the people around them have proven to be more powerful.

Over the years, NTUC’s Labour MPs have relentlessly advocated for anti-discrimination legislation in Singapore. In a Facebook post earlier this month, SMS Chee, who is also NTUC Deputy Secretary-General promised that NTUC will continue to push for Government and employers alike to do more to ensure fair consideration for Singaporeans when it comes to hiring and career progression; as well as to look closely at all the various options to strengthen support for Singaporeans in the workforce – including but not limited to anti-discrimination legislation.

Three Suggestions Put Forth by SMS Chee Hong Tat

In his Keynote Address at the virtual masterclass, SMS Chee also made three suggestions on building a strong Singaporean Core.


The Foreigner versus Singaporean conversation will continue, and ground concerns are valid. Meanwhile, the tripartite partners will make sure that firm action will be taken against the black sheep – employers with poor HR records, and do not put in effort to develop their local workforce! SMS Chee also added that good HR practices – including working closely with unions – ought to be recognised.

Come Parliament sitting on 26th July,  Labour MP Patrick Tay, who has been lobbying for a stronger Singaporean Core for the past 10 years, will speak at the adjournment motion, and will be bringing up for discussion how existing laws, regulations and policies can be strengthened.

Labour MP Patrick Tay has spent 10 years of lobbying and advocating for a stronger Singaporean Core.


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