Anti-foreigner vitriol can damage Singapore's reputation: PM Lee

The nasty anti-foreigner views that are expressed anonymously online can reflect badly on Singaporeans, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday.

He said that while it fair to express concern or disagree with immigration policies, he is worried about some of the views put up online. He noted that bad behaviour from foreigners provoke an overwhelming response while bad Singaporean behaviour goes uncriticised. Similarly, when a foreigner does a good deed, it goes unrecognised.

He cited, among others, the contrast between two recent incidents on buses. One was a video of a Singaporean and a non-Singaporean quarrelling over a bus seat. The other was a letter to The Straits Times Forum Page of a foreign nurse on a bus who was the only one who helped a woman who became sick and threw up. The video of the quarrel went viral but there was no online response to the story of the nurse.

He also pointed to articles in newspapers oversees that might give the impression that Singapore is anti-foreigner and xenophobic. He said it doesn't just damage the country's reputation but it also speaks poorly of the sort of people Singaporeans are.

PM Lee reiterated the need for both Singaporeans and foreigners to meet each other in the middle. Singaporeans need to show a generosity of spirit while newcomers must embrace Singaporean values, commit themselves to the country and make an effort to integrate, he said.