For Pete’s sake, “Instant citizens” is not demeaning

I refer to the 6 Feb 2013 TR Emeritus posting “Instant citizens? I think not!” by Pete.

Pete may be genuinely mistaken in thinking that the phrase “instant citizens” is demeaning. It is not. It is an accurate portrayal of the current situation where in some cases, citizenship forms are completed before hand and handed over at the airport to the arriving foreign talent for his endorsement. You can’t get more instant than that. Foreign talents like Feng Tianwei are given citizenship in less than a year after stepping onto our shores. You can’t get more instant than that.

Perhaps to Pete, giving up his former citizenship requires much consideration, not an instant decision. Not so for many others running away from the oppression or poverty of Third World countries. For them, citizenship is never instant enough.

Which history shows that division is caused by labeling and not by fundamental differences of different peoples forced to come together?

Pete’s experience at an integration workshop could be due to statistical bias. 25% who has at least one parent not born in Singapore out of 50% born in Singapore means that every other person born in Singapore (50%) has at least one parent not born in Singapore. That’s not quite representative of the statistical truth amongst Singapore born adults. The table below shows the percentage of Singapore-foreign marriages from 1990 to 2002 [1]:

Year Total Number of Marriages in Singapore Singapore-Foreign Marriages Percentage of Singapore-Foreign Marriages
1990 24339 3936 16
1991 25192 3757 15
1992 25876 5029 20
1993 25306 5022 20
1994 24662 4959 20
1995 24974 5087 20
1996 24111 5149 21
1997 25672 4447 17
1998 23114 5102 22
1999 25653 5173 20
2000 22566 4823 21
2001 22280 5059 23
2002 23198 4928 21

Assuming little difference in birth rates between Singapore-Singapore and Singapore-Foreign marriages, we should see about 15% to 23% of any cohort born out of marriages between 1990 and 2002 having one parent not born in Singapore. That is quite far from the 50% experienced by Pete. Pete’s experience could be due to the unique audience assembled by the government for his integration experience. The answer to Pete’s rhetorical question to Sylvia Lim of how many generations it takes to make a true blue Singaporean out of new / instant immigrants is that it depends on the degree of immigration pursued by the country. If the country keeps immigration low, the process will be speeded up. If the country opens the immigration flood gate, the process may go on and on forever without ever reaching an end point.

[1] Ministry of Social and Family Development, State of Families in Singapore, Annex, Page 7, Table 2.10

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One Response to “For Pete’s sake, “Instant citizens” is not demeaning”

  1. ;Annonymous Says:

    Congratulations for a well thought out piece. Since the powers that be are so fond of special pleading why don`t we loook at the European experience?. France had an “immigration problem” for half a century despite their avoved policy of assimilation. Today the problem is still with them even though the pecentage of immigrants is only a few percent. In the UK, the most open country of all, the immigrants are still not integrated in the face of a huge government effort and support from large sections of the local population. You can see the almost daily protests in France and Greece against immigrants. What makes the government believe that with the impending dilution of the “core Singaporean population ” to 50% or less (because emigration was not taken into account in their projection) integration can be achieved? They have not even set a time -frame for that to happen. It is a fantasy and wishful thinking.The result will be disastrous.

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