Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

by Shihang

I notice the PAP has been criticising Tan Jee Say’s argument that Singapore should move totally towards services and drop our manufacturing industry. Now I disagree with Jee Say too, because I believe there is no inherent reason why manufacturing cannot exist in Singapore. But sometimes, the PAP is just lying.

1) “The services industry relies more on foreign workers than manufacturing does.”

Um. No. Note these two pie charts:

The point is, the absolute number of workers going into the services industry is larger than the number of workers going into the manufacturing industry. In fact, 56.5% of workers in manufacturing are foreign and 51.15% are WP holders. Only 25.91% in the services industry are foreign, even including all the maids in the country.

2) “United States and Britain regret letting their manufacturing sectors drop.”

Um. For one, importing hordes of foreign workers is not as easy for them. But the point neglects that these countries have better conditions for manufacturing. The US has lots of unused space (bigger than China with less than a quarter its population. Even Britain has more land area for manufacturing activity. This difficulty in achieving economies of scale is a serious impediment for Singapore’s manufacturing sector. So it’s difficult to see these cases as equivalent.

Obviously Jee Say’s proposal is a little silly as well. (what’s the beef with productive jobs -.- You’re a grown man, for god’s sake.) But Hng Kiang is equally silly.