On 01 October 2021, TSMP Law Corporation joint managing partner Stefanie Yuen Thio was quoted in a Business Times article on how FICA could affect Singapore as a global business hub.
Stefanie said “I don’t think corporates will worry about business being disrupted or curtailed, except Internet service providers and social media platforms, who could be the recipient of a directive under FICA.”
While there are good reasons to be worried about hostile foreign interference, the concern “for the business world and Singapore’s position as an international hub is the perception that the Act could be used to stamp out dissent”, she said.
She also said “Even as we try to encourage more MNCs and foreign corporates to base their overseas headquarters here, they will want to feel that they can be good corporate citizens in such an important business hub.”
Yet FICA may nonetheless erode Singapore’s standing. “The bigger issue is whether foreign companies feel that Singapore continues to be an open and welcoming place to do business,” she added.
She said strict border curbs amid Covid-19 and discourse about foreigners “taking jobs from locals” have already led to expatriates feeling less welcome. “If FICA is seen as another line drawn in the sand, where foreigners’ views and collaborations are less welcome, that may affect the business world’s perception of whether Singapore is an open and global city”, she added.
She said it “would be extremely helpful for the Minister to share in Parliament about the types of scenarios and behaviours that FICA, if passed, is intended to catch”.