The Temasek Policy Review

A critical review of Singapore's policies from the ground

Time to face the hard truth: Why immigration is no longer possible with the present wave of immigrants

Posted by temasektimes on May 6, 2012

During a televised debate with his Socialist opponent Francois Hollande on May 1, French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged for a rethink of France’s immigration policies:

“I will never argue for zero immigration, but the reality is that when you invite more people than you can handle, you no longer integrate them.”

His statement encapsulated what we have been promulgating all along: We strongly believe Singapore must remain OPEN to immigrants, but we have to be extremely selective of who we take in and we may have now reached the stage where integration is no longer possible.

Though most of our forefathers were immigrants themselves, the present generation of Singaporeans are fully integrated as one people after three generations or more – we no longer see ourselves as being from China, India or Malaysia. Singapore is our home where we all belong.

Similarly, the American Chinese did not become Americans overnight. They are only fully assimilated after three generations.  And neither did the French immigrants in Canada’s province of Quebec became Canadians overnight.

Integration is a natural process and cannot be fast-tracked by simply throwing money to hold a few carnivals and festivals to promote it and pray that it will happen automatically somehow.

Human beings are not mere economic digits or emotionless robots. There is more to integration than simply reciting the National Pledge and changing the color of one’s identity card.

Before integration is possible, three conditions must exist:

1. The desire of the immigrants to settle in Singapore permanently.

2. The proportion of immigrants in the population.

3. The rate of intake of immigrants.

It is time for both Singaporeans and the government to face the hard truth that integration is no longer possible simply because we have got it all wrong right from the very beginning.

Singapore has always been open to only selected group of immigrants – we welcomed the Malaysians in the 1970s, the Taiwanese in the 1980s and Hong Kongers in the 1990s and they manage to integrate well with the locals with few problems as they share similar cultures, values and language as Singaporeans and they come in small numbers which make it easier for them to assimilate into society.

The present wave of immigration is different from the past. Without any proper planning, we open our doors to foreigners from all over the world without any careful screening and vetting leading to many incompatible immigrants some of whom who cannot speak a word of English being given Singapore citizenship.

As too many immigrants are accepted within too short a period of them, they tend to mix around with their own kind instead of taking their own effort to reach out to Singaporeans thereby leading to ethnic enclaves emerging from the HDB heartlands.

Some of these newcomers also do not regard Singapore as their new homes as they see it only as a stepping stone for greener pastures abroad and indeed, about 25 percent of immigrants renounced their citizenship yearly as revealed by the government lately.

It is a fallacy to hope that the children of these newcomers will become naturalized Singaporeans after being brought up in the Singapore’s education system.

While some may stay on eventually, many others may leave Singapore after taking advantage of its education either to evade National Service or to continue their lives elsewhere like in the case of one new citizen from China Mr Hu who sent his son to study in the United States as reported by Lianhe Zaobao two months ago.

The present immigration policy which calls for the continued intake of 30,000 new citizens a year appears not to realize that we have reached a point of no return – it is impossible to integrate fully those immigrants who have arrived in the last decade or so and we urgently need a serious rethink and review of the direction we are heading.

In a posting on his Twitter last night, Young PAP member and MediaCorp actor Tay Ping Hui warned of the dangers of an uncontrolled influx of immigrants:

“Unabated, imported population growth is akin to using steroids. Great muscle gains, but the internal system overloads & damage is irreversible.”

The continued intake of immigrants may bring us tangible economic benefits in the short-term but will bring about disastrous social problems in the future as it is already unfolding before our very eyes.

Crumbling public infrastructure like our public rail system, rising social tensions between Singaporeans and foreigners and an obvious decline in the standards of living especially felt by the increasingly squeezed middle class are the result of ten years of uncontrolled immigration.

Given the potential repercussions, should we not pause for a second and think carefully whether continuing on the path ahead will take us to a better Singapore or lead us down to a slippery slope of no return?

 © Copyright 2012 The Temasek Policy Review. No part of the above article may be published without permission from The Temasek Policy Review. 

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3 Responses to “Time to face the hard truth: Why immigration is no longer possible with the present wave of immigrants”

  1. The best way to integrate these new citizens is for them to join us in NS, BMT and reservist training to defend our beloved country. Sweating side by side in the jungle with fellow Singaporeans to defend this place will make them much more acceptable and if they don’t love this place enough to defend it, then why be a citizen? You can have virtually all the rights of a citizen by being a PR.
    As for the hundreds of thousands of fresh citizens already in, if there is a war, how come they don’t have to learn how to defend their homeland?

  2. Aberdyn said

    I think we had enough with the foreign workers problem already. Its time for Singapore to do away with imports of these aliens. It had caused a disastrous social shift to the populace demographic landscape of the so compact small island of the so-called small red- dot Singapore. The government should realize the implication of its obsolete policy of letting influx of aliens to the country that Singaporean have to pay a very high price if this trend to continue. We have to put a stop to this unhealthy activities. So much has been said about the good, the bad and the ugly about the foreign workers flocking here, as a result, many local workers were displace from their jobs of which employers deliberately evicted them from employment and replaced with the more cheaper labour from these third world countries.

    Where is the rational to say that we want better workers with value-added quality in order to increase the level of productivity when you are actually employing very cheap labour with inferior value which are far different from the local workers who are better educated and more so skillful than these cheap foreign workers. From my understanding, most of these foreign labours who came from these third countries are invalids in their own country and could not find a job for themselves hence they scramble to other places for survival. I believe most of them do not have even a basic formal education thus their capability to the job given are more vulnerable hence would compromise on skills and competency in our workforce.

    With this scenario, one would imagine how the government can so amply allowed these trash of people into the country and issued them with work permit and S-passes and let them absorb into the Singapore labour market. It seems the SMEs and MNCs enterprises were the most benefited to these cheap labours because there are so many advantages that these companies can gain in the sense like saving cost for the company. Examples, employing this cheap foreign workers is not subject to CPF contribution and other perks enjoy by the local Singaporean workers.

    The Government should wake-up now and realize that these immigrant foreign workers policy should be done away. We cannot prolong this any longer because the longer you let it to continue it is going to have a very bad repercussion on the entire economic and social infrastructure of the country especially to the local lower income earners of Singaporean. Even the PMETs had felt the pinch on the socio-economic front because of the PAP government sickly policy.

  3. Amusing that you should post this shortly before Sarkozy loses his re-election battle as the most unpopular incumbent in French history

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