S'pore and Germany experts discuss policies on integration of immigrants

Singapore could learn from Germany's approach in the integration of immigrants, for instance, in its emphasis on language education, said Mr Zainudin Nordin, chairman of racial harmony advocacy group OnePeople.sg on Tuesday.

In Germany, all immigrants must first pass a basic German-language test.

He said: "The common feedback that we get (include) 'When I go to a restaurant, people talk to me in Mandarin, they don't understand what I'm ordering'." More could be done to help people adapt and integrate into Singapore "using a common denominator like language", he said.

Mr Zainudin, who is also MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, was speaking to reporters after a panel discussion on the integration of immigrants in Germany and Singapore.

Sitting on the panel with Mr Zainudin were Prof Dr Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office in Germany, and Dr Lai Ah Eng, adjunct senior fellow at the University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore.

Dr Böhmer said migration and integration have to be seen together. The ability to speak German has been of key importance, as immigrants are not otherwise able to participate fully in the life of their country of choice

The discussion was moderated by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) senior research fellow Gillian Koh. Held at the Orchard Hotel, it was organised by IPS and German think-tank Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

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