Admit younger immigrants for better assimilation

I watched with much interest Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's recent speech at the People's Action Party's conference on YouTube.

I am glad he addressed some serious issues that are relevant to our country's current affairs.

PM Lee cited the problems America and Europe are facing over immigration.

He talked about how the people fear a loss of identity, the mainstream political party losing ground, radical extreme protest groups taking over and creating a polarised political system, and how this danger is very real and could happen in Singapore if we are not careful.

Singapore has many immigrants and we cannot expect newly minted citizens to feel the same way about our country as we do.

Take, for example, the football match between Singapore and Indonesia last week. One cannot expect an immigrant to go down to the stadium and cheer passionately for our team.

Most people acknowledge that we need immigrants to mitigate the shortfall in our birth rates and make up for the shrinking workforce.

Ingraining a sense of identity and belonging in our immigrants is tricky.

From my observation, this can be done only when they are young and after they have undergone our education system and national service.

Hence, admitting immigrants who are young or couples who are likely to give birth in our country is a better bet and will yield a better outcome in our immigration efforts.

The assimilation of their offspring into our society will be more natural.

Roy Goh Hin Soon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2018, with the headline 'Admit younger immigrants for better assimilation'. Print Edition | Subscribe