The Straits Times
Published on Feb 23, 2013

A foreigner's appeal to Singaporeans


I AM a second-year student at a university here. I am also what many would call "foreign talent" - someone "who steals university places from your relatives and friends, and studies at the expense of your parents' tax money".

The recent uproar over the Government's policy on immigrants has been of some concern to me.

I decided to study in Singapore because it is close to and culturally similar to my country.

My education here has been, to a large extent, subsidised through a Ministry of Education tuition grant. This grant requires me to work for at least three years in Singapore after I graduate. So I would be competing with my Singaporean peers for jobs.

This raises the question: Am I making Singapore less Singaporean? Am I unknowingly making life too difficult for citizens? It was certainly not my intention to do so.

I came here to get a good education. It saddens me to see how netizens paint all immigrants in the same bad light and post racist and xenophobic comments online. Getting more immigrants from New Delhi, for example, would certainly not make Singapore the "rape capital of the world".

Immigrants have different cultural and educational backgrounds. Many of us share the aspirations of Singapore citizens. When I see the hatred for foreign workers, I sometimes wonder if it would be possible for me to work here and serve out my bond.

I urge Singaporeans not to let prejudice and stereotypes guide public policy.

I hope to graduate in a Singapore that still respects diversity, not because the law says so but because the people genuinely believe it is the right thing to do.

I hope Singapore's new citizens are treated in a way that is reflective of the educated, meritocratic and unbiased society that Singapore is.

I hope the recent uproar does not create further barriers between citizens and foreigners.

Abhinav Mishra