The Straits Times
Published on Feb 06, 2013

Distinguish between citizens, PRs and non-PR residents


THERE has been much debate and discussion over the Government's Population White Paper, but something is missing in all of them.

First, we do not always distinguish between these three groups - resident citizens, permanent residents (PRs) and non-PR foreign workers.

We use the terms "foreigners", "immigrants", "new citizens" and "PRs" when discussing integration. This is confusing. Let us be consistent; just whom do we expect to integrate into our society?

Immigrants and new citizens are "converted" groups - they do not need convincing of the need for integration.

But PRs may not wish to stay forever. I know some who have absolutely no intention of doing so.

Second, the forecast is for 33 to 36 per cent of the 2030 population to be made up of non-PR foreign workers. In other words, they are going to make up one in three of the people living among us.

We do not need more convincing that this is inevitable. What we need to know is just what the Government has planned and budgeted for them.

This is a non-homogenous group of people with characteristics distinctly different from the other two groups. They are transient (more so than PRs); from cultural backgrounds very different from Singapore's; fluent in languages other than English; mainly young to below-middle-aged adults; alone and without their families here; spend little money; and have hardly any places to go to during their free time.

This group will use our facilities - cycling and driving vehicles on our roads, riding on our buses and trains, eating at our food outlets, and hanging out at our shopping centres.

So the next time the Government announces plans and changes to be made, could it cater to the whole population, meaning all three groups?

Amy Loh Chee Seen (Ms)