per Henry Tan
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECSC) entered into force on 1 August 2005 and a second protocol amending some parts entered into force on 14 September 2018. .
The second protocol did not amend Chapter 9 on the movement of natural persons related to the Indian national entering Singapore.
ECSC came into the spotlight after an incident in 2019 involving an Indian man who later met with Singapore citizens.
The incident prompted activists to hold an event in Hong Lim Park in November of the same year, which caused general unhappiness over the government’s plan to raise Singapore’s population to 6.9 million and the deterioration of employment for certain strata of society despite a growing economy.
CECA then went into slow fire until some short video clips appeared on social media during COVID-19 restrictions, showing Indian-looking people receiving racial observations.
The Minister of Law and Home Affairs believed that rumors about the ECSC had something to do with racial samples and challenged a MP to present a debate on the ECSC, which he did. The debate has been reported.
Unfortunately, this whole saga is an obfuscation.
If Chapter 9 of the ECSC was already enshrined in 2005, why didn’t the government explain it in 2019, when it became a problem? In fact, it should have been explained earlier in 2005.
Ignorance of this and retention of data have given rise to the reasonable deduction that the large influx of Indian citizens may be associated with the ECSC.
Deputies who raised this issue outside or inside parliament give voice to their electorate because of their unhappiness as they increasingly encounter large groups of Indian nationalities.
Senior lawmakers tried to confuse the issue by claiming that these acts were only causing rumors and causing problems.
The saga became even more muddy by implying that not supporting the ECSC by itself is tantamount to not supporting the NAFTA in general, or being xenophobic or nationalist, none of which is really true.
The same unhappiness would have developed if ECSC had occurred with another nation.