Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 02/21/2013 06:01 | By Channel NewsAsia

High—speed rail link may help ease labour crunch in S’pore

High—speed rail link may help ease labour crunch in S’pore

High—speed rail link may help ease labour crunch in S’pore

SINGAPORE : The high—speed rail link between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur could help ease the expected labour crunch in Singapore.

Companies have welcomed the infrastructure project that could potentially reduce travelling time between the two cities to only 90 minutes.

The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) believes the project can help attract more workers from Malaysia to work in Singapore.

Companies see the advantages of hiring workers from Malaysia, which is considered a "traditional" source of foreign workers.

The advantages include not having to post a S$5,000 security bond to employ them in Singapore. There are also minimal cultural and language problems.

Companies said Malaysians living beyond Johor may want to work in Singapore if commuting is enhanced.

Chan Chong Beng, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, said: "We should be able to attract a lot of these PMEs (professionals, managers and executives) from Malaysia to come to Singapore to work, and also the workers who want to tap on the higher salaries in Singapore.

"If they can cut off the cost of accommodation in Singapore, it will be very attractive for them to come to Singapore to work, because they can either go back daily or they can go back weekly and continue to be with their families."

ASME also believes the rail project could spur more Singapore companies to venture further into Malaysia.

However, industry players said there are challenges which authorities need to address.

Mark Hall, vice—president of Kelly Services, said: "Can we ease the border crossing between Malaysia and Singapore? I read the argument in Europe. In Europe, there is the high—speed rail link that connects London and Paris, London and Germany, London and Spain.

"The difference there is that the border crossing there is easier. Passports in UK...there is no problem crossing over. Singapore and Malaysia in the next seven years have to figure out what they can do with the border control passing."

The high—speed train between Singapore and Malaysia will change how Singaporeans commute to Kuala Lumpur. However, whether or not it will entice more Singaporeans to find a job in Kuala Lumpur will depend on several factors.

One Singaporean said: "(The) price of the train fare...must be good value because it is a day—to—day basis travelling to and from work, so it must be a good price."

Another noted: "If Kuala Lumpur can bring more (and) better opportunities, let’s say higher salaries, of course who (wouldn’t) want to do that; as long as there is money available, maybe people will try..."

In addition, workers have pointed out that for daily commuting to happen, the rail system needs to be reliable.

— CNA/ms

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