Forum: Share information on immigration with the public

Travellers at the immigration checkpoint of the Changi Airport Terminal 3 arrival hall.
Travellers at the immigration checkpoint of the Changi Airport Terminal 3 arrival hall.PHOTO: ST FILE

Once Singaporeans feel that they are losing their jobs, standard of living, social benefits and sense of worth because of an influx of foreigners, immigration will become a political hot potato (Why immigration isn't a numbers game, Oct 27).

It is natural for citizens to expect to get certain basic entitlements or benefits. But in a meritocracy, one has to work hard to get better benefits and rewards. Immigrants here can climb the social status ladder through hard work and enjoy the fruits of their contribution.

Competition between the local-born and foreign-born is unavoidable. If competition can bring out the best in us, our nation would be more competitive on the world stage.

Immigration policymakers should place national interest as the top priority and thoroughly weigh all the pros and cons.

Immigration policies are not just about numbers. The quality of immigrants, such as education level and skills, should be considered.

The authorities have information and data that they use to make policies. They should share the information with the public so that we can better understand the rationale of the policies. They should also present a breakdown of all foreigners here, including occupation, country of birth, age profile, average income and living conditions.

We should examine how well new citizens and permanent residents are integrating into our society, and enhance the social integration programme if needed.

Another very challenging issue concerns our national identity. Singapore has to boost its birth rate. National identity evolves slowly over time and we cannot stop the process. Country of birth, language, religion, and cultural and lifestyle traits all play a part in moulding our future national identity.

Politicians should not politicise the national identity issue to gain votes, for this would create serious social divides among our people. Once we have a sound immigration policy and a rigorous integration programme in place, we should leave it to future generations and new citizens to decide what kind of Singapore they want to build.

Albert Ng Ya Ken

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2019, with the headline 'Share information on immigration with the public'. Print Edition | Subscribe