Throwing door wide open to foreigners is un-Singaporean too

I refer to the 18 Feb 2013 Straits Times letter “Closing door to foreigners is un-Singaporean” by Mr Simon Huang Minghui [1].

Mr Huang describes Singapore’s achievements with the over-used phrase “punch above its weight”. Singapore has been punching above its weight even during colonial days, yet there was never a conscious need to celebrate that fact because punching above our weight was never our overarching goal and should never be. Our goal is not to glorify but to better the lives of all. Glorification is for despots seeking to satisfy over-sized egos.

Mr Huang lists having overseas born parents and grandparents as part of his Singapore identity while rejecting attendance of local schools and national service as part of his Singapore identity. In that case, anyone in this world can have the Singapore identity. They just need to have non-Singapore born parents and grandparents. That means potentially 7 billion people in this world bear the Singapore identity. Mr Huang has magically solved our low birth rate conundrum. We have no birth rate problems, the world is our population. Mr Huang should have been there to receive the Rohingya refugees and to embrace them as fellow Singaporeans for sharing the same Singapore identity of having parents or grandparents not born in Singapore.

While women don’t serve NS, they often have brothers, fathers, sons or husbands who do and have to carry the burden of looking after the family alone while dearly missing their loved ones serving NS away from home. So it’s not just the men but the women too who are affected by NS which is the common thread that permeates and binds all Singaporean households.

Mr Huang shouldn’t feel sad but should sincerely understand the situation instead. The situation isn’t about foreigners and immigration per say but their excessive numbers. Foreigners and immigration have been with us since day one with no problems. Our problems are recent and correspond to the recent mass influx.

Since when has immigration restriction gone against our values? Singapore has been restricting immigration since independence [2], [3], [4], [5]. Closing the door to foreigners isn’t the only thing that goes against our values, throwing our doors wide open goes against our values too.

Mr Huang urges us not to turn our country into a place we do not recognise. It is Mr Huang who should learn to recognise the true fabric of our nation in order to recognise what not to turn our nation into.

[1] Straits Times, 18 Feb 2013, Closing door to foreigners is un-Singaporean

[2] Singapore Year Book 1965, Ministry of Culture, Page 286
Strict immigration control continued to be maintained after the separation.

[3] The City As A Centre Of Change In Asia, D. J. Dwyer, Page 97
Since 1965, internal migration between the States of Malaya and Singapore has become increasingly subject to controls which have been partly restrictive and partly procedural.

[4] The Population of Singapore (Third Edition), Saw Swee-Hock, Page 16
The rigid control of immigration from Peninsular Malaysia since August 1965 and from other countries after the Japanese Occupation resulted in a net migration surplus of only 33,000. Migration has become a negligible factor of population growth.

[5] The Global Family Planning Revolution: Three Decades of Population Policies and Programs, Warren C. Robinson, John A. Ross, Page 204
Control of immigration was easily achieved, as both Malaysia and Singapore introduced border controls soon after their separation, although low levels of selective immigration continued.


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