The Straits Times
Published on Feb 23, 2013

Not all immigrants are 'soldiers of fortune'


I AM an immigrant from Indonesia who became a Singapore citizen in my early 20s many years ago.

I call myself an "immigrant Singaporean" as opposed to a "born-and-bred Singaporean".

I refute the Workers' Party's inference during the Parliament debate on the Population White Paper that immigrants are soldiers of fortune ("WP rejects road map, offers its own"; Feb 5).

MP Sylvia Lim said new citizens, while making good economic contributions, "see Singapore through a different lens, and can equally make a decision to leave if the circumstances change".

Not all immigrants are like that. Remember that early Singapore rose on the backs of immigrants from Indonesia, Malaya, China, India and elsewhere. Most stayed here through thick and thin, and built Singapore into a thriving international trading port. This port formed the foundation for the economic success that followed.

There are many other immigrant Singaporeans like me who have made Singapore their home and do their part in nation-building.

My wife is a born-and-bred Singaporean, as are my three children and four grandchildren. When my grandchildren grow up, they will get married and have their own children, thus helping to augment the Singaporean core.

Indeed, most indigenous Singaporeans today are descendants of immigrants.

I live and talk like a true Singaporean. I fly the flag every National Day. I cheer our sports teams when they do battle against foreign opponents.

It ruffles my feathers when foreigners denigrate us and, worse, when they fabricate falsehoods about us.

Ms Lim also argued that too many immigrants will dilute the Singaporean core that will "change the character of Singapore forever".

However, if the change is for the better, why not? Our present character has evolved through the ages. We must always change with the times and be willing to accept better values and ideals. Do not regard an advance in civilisation as unnatural.

Anthony Oei