SME Spotlight

Quite exciting (for me). This past Wednesday, May 27, we were featured on the SME Spotlight section of The Straits Times. It feels great to see the past few years of work getting recognized.

Let's hope things keep growing!

Read the article and learn more about how Standing Sushi Bar started, what some of the challenges were along the way, and what some of the future plans are.

O citizens and permanent residents, where art thou?

So now I own two restaurants. The existing branch at One Raffles Place and a brand new one at 8 Queen Street. The first restaurant is open, the other is not.

While the renovations for the new restaurant are complete, I am unable to open because I simply can not find local service staff.

The restaurant at 8 Queen Street (8QSAM) is under a new company. Singapore dictates a new company must hire only citizens and permanent residents for the first 3 months. After 3 months of paying the Central Provident Fund (CPF), a company is then able to hire foreigners based on a ratio of number of citizens / PRs employed to foreigner employed.

I read about how people are worried that foreigners will be taking jobs from Singaporeans. Maybe in some industries that’s true but in the food & beverage sector it is not.

Last week I placed an ad via CATS (the classified ads system for Singapore Press Holdings). The job ad ran in the Straits Times classifieds over the weekend and also online via

I had 95 people respond to that job ad – 95 people that wanted a service crew position.

Guess how many were Singapore citizens?


Two out of the ninety-five applicants were Singapore permanent residents. Only one showed up for an interview.

A few months ago I placed an ad with JobsDB. Similar results – out of something like 230 applicants only 4 were Singapore citizens or permanent residents.

This is crippling for a new small business.


Suggestion: Rather than require new companies to start off by hiring only citizens / permanent residents, allow them to hire foreigners also. Give a year (or two) for the company to hire enough citizens to accommodate the ratio required by the Ministry of Manpower.

CPF says what?

Every company in Singapore needs to register and pay their local employees CPF (Central Provident Fund).  CPF is basically a retirement fund, similar to 401K in the United States. The company deducts some of your salary and puts it in your CPF account, the company contributes a percentage on top of that, and the government chips in with some more funds.  Years later, you’ll either use some of that money for a down-payment on an HDB flat or you’ll die never getting to enjoy this pile of cash that is building up in an account you can’t touch.


They omitted information in the registration process. Below is my e-mail asking for clarification:



I am trying to register my company for “New Employer’s First CPF Contribution.” (Form CPF/1).  It is UEN / ACRA Registration Number: <UEN>

On form CPF/1, it mentions this: “You are strongly encouraged to sign up for CPF e-Submission to make your first CPF payment. To do so, please submit Form CPF/1 with the CPF e-Submission Registration form and the Application for Interbank GIRO form at least 7 weeks before the due date of your first CPF payment.”

In order to receive a CPF Submission Code, I need to submit form CPF/1 first, correct?  But as mentioned above it says I should submit Form CPF/1 with the CPF e-Submission Registration form and the Application for Interbank GIRO.  However both those forms require a CPF Submission code.

Can I just send in the forms without the CPF Submission code and someone will fill those in upon assignation of the code?



The answer (I ended up calling them) is: Leave the submission code blank on the GIRO form and in the e-Submission Registration form.  They will fill in the CPF Submission code for you when issued.