Surbana terminated 50 staff

Temasek Holding’s Surbana Jurong terminated about 50 staff who were deemed as “poor performers”. The layoffs occurred a couple of weeks ago, just before the Chinese New Year.

Surbana has stressed that the terminations were not retrenchment exercise. The staff were let go simply because of their poor performances.

It is indeed a sad day for Singapore. Some people may argue that many of the affected staff are foreigners and hence there is no need to feel sorry for them. But the issue is not whether local Singaporeans or foreign talents are being laid off. The issue is whether Singapore employers are beginning to lose their moral compass.

Make no mistake, bottom-line is of course important for every enterprise. Obviously companies are entitled to sack staff who cannot perform. But surely there should be ample time or few month’s grace period for the affected staff to improve? And surely there should be more sensible or even humane time to fire them? Would it even hurt their financial positions to postpone the firing after the Chinese New Year period?

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Losing your job is a very terrible feeling. It not only hurts your ego but also damages your wealth. To lose a job right before the festive season is even worse.

Furthermore, by announcing to the whole world that these ex-staff performed badly, Surbana inadvertently deterred potential employers from hiring them. After all, which company would want to take in people who cannot perform?

Some readers may even call for the authorities to intervene but the matter of fact is that the government is also powerless. Surbana has not violated any labor laws in this case because they have cited a legitimate reason for terminating the staff. Legally, they are not wrong but morally, in my point of view, they have crossed the line.

A few months ago, I wrote an article on retrenchment insurance. Some readers were cynical and felt that such scheme would only open room for Singapore employees to abuse. But the matter of fact is that employees are often not protected from unfair dismissals. If employers plotted to avoid paying retrenchment benefits, what can you do? With retrenchment insurance, at least affected workers can still collect some money to tide them over before landing the next job.

I am not pointing out that having a retrenchment insurance policy will resolve all problems. Due to the rapid economy restructuring, there will be more and more of such tragic stories. But the lesson learned is that you must start to pledge alliance to your craft and not to your employer. By that, I don’t mean you go about stealing your company proprietary data, betray your bosses or conduct act of sabotages. Instead, start asking yourself what are your achievements over the years and the types of transferable skills you possessed.

It is important that you start making back-up plans for yourself because if you don’t, nobody would. We need to keep honing our competencies and build niche skills. At the end of the day, if you are a master of a trade but unable to find a job, you can still be your own master by becoming a consultant. The worst thing in life is to be complacent and assume that retrenchment won’t happen to you.

Recently I met up with Dave, founder of trading membership site – Trade With The Whale. I was surprised that he resigned from his well-paying job to become a full-time trader and investment blogger. I have great respect for him because he has found his passion in life and has mastered a life skill in the form of trading. Unlike many people, including me, he is empowered to make such a career move because he has built a niche skill.

I wish I can just sack my boss and tell him I determine my own pay, set my own vacation leave and annual bonuses. But alas, I am unable to do so. My financial destiny still rest in the hands of my bosses. Do I want to attain success like Dave? Of course I do but it is not going to be easy I know. Trading is not for everyone and is considered risky. But I want to learn and start empowering myself.

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Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder


2 thoughts on “Surbana terminated 50 staff

  • January 18, 2017 at 3:16 am

    Using the retrenched workers as part of your advertisement for a trading course is just as bad….

  • January 19, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Hi Chun Kiat,

    It is not so much of promoting a trading course but more of encouraging Singapore workers to upgrade their skills.
    Disappointed that you didn’t get the point.


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