29 August 2006

Selling immigration

The government proposes to open the door even wider to immigration, but their lack of political skills makes this an uphill task. The Straits Times' obtuseness in running stories about "new Singaporeans" using the angle that they took doesn't help at all. Full essay.


yuen said...

we already know SPH is the PR dept of Singapore Inc; no need to rub it in and add pain to the journalists who have to make a living like a rest of us

PR can be annoying to read if the reader can see he/she is being manipulated; why isnt it being done better? maybe because the writers, and their superiors, do not get enough feedback, so that they think they are doing fine, or they do not take feedback seriously because it is negatively motivated

Anonymous said...

as a true s'porean i feel betrayed by those traitors.they get immigrants and give citizenship so that they will elect p.a.p. not in the intrest of true s'poreans but in the intrest of p.a.p. idiots are screwing up our lives!SINGAPORE NOT BELONG TO HIS FATHER,TO DO AS HE WISH!

thor666 said...

I think one interesting comment by my mother who works in the hotel industry, is that when the Caucasians come in, the PRC workers curse and swear at them in Chinese.

So what gives? You can get Singaporeans to smile at immigrants and foreigners, but you might not be able to get immigrants and foreigners to smile at each other.

in any case, I see the declaration of the immigration/citizenship policy as a opportune time for the PAP to exact its actions. It is right after the elections, and if the IMF meetings go well, Singaporeans might be inclined to welcome foreigners after all.

ColdZero said...

To anonymous 29 August, 2006 01:48,

I'd just like to say that actually attracting immigrants might have the opposite effect. Most of the time these immigrants come from more liberal societies. Thus in order to attract them in the first place, the govt has to show itself as becoming more and more liberal. And second, once these immigrants are here and they acquire voting rights, they will inevitably put pressure on the govt to liberalize. In this way Singapore as a whole stands to benefit.

I know I'm not expressing this well but when I read Mr. Au's second point abt the the skilled chemists, it reminded me of a sort of a Lockean Proviso where an equality can be justified if without it everyone is made worse off. Thus we can justify importing those foreign chemists bcos without them, the foreign company wouldnt come and the Singaporeans who would have stood to benefit from this wouldnt have.

ColdZero said...

I want to say something else as well.

In Singapore, among immigrant communities, especially among the white immigrant communities, there is a tendency to cloister themselves off from the rest of society. By this I mean that they tend to socialize within their own nationality clubs and their kids frequently attend international schools. Like so, there is a very strong segmentation btw immigrant and local communities.

If the govt wants immigrants to be accepted, it has got to find a way to integrate them with the locals otherwise there will have been a class divide between the locals who predominantly reside in the 'heartlands' and the foreigners who come to Singapore and immediately move into the areas around Orchard Rd. And this will foster resentment among the locals. The govt can get arnd this by emphasizing the fact that Singapore is a nation of immigrants anyway.

Of course its not entirely inconceivable that the govt might want to keep foreigners and locals more or less separated lest the locals start picking up 'bad liberal habits' and this gets transplanted onto the political sphere. So what it comes down to is that the govt cannot perpetuate its political monopoly and while promoting a policy of foreign talents at the same time - there will be unintended consequences that will be irreconciliable to the original intentions.

aliene said...

I agree on the turn-off effect that the articles in the newspaper has. One primary concern in any country that has an open immigration policy is for the locals to perceive the immigrants as job/wealth robbers. "They" take "our" jobs and become rich and successful. Highlighting success stories makes locals look at ourselves and think, "they've come here and become successful, but I am still as poor/unsuccessful as before". It just helps to build jealousy and unhappiness more than anything else.

Jenny said...

I have to say that I am against immigration in that it reflects the failure of the government to address the needs and aspirations of it's citizens first. It was not too long ago that 2 million in Singapore already made it a very crowded place. Perhaps you could enlighten us by presenting your case for immigration, and try to change the xenophobic views of similar minded.

Anonymous said...

It is the 'same old same old storyline from PAP'. What is the benefit for the average Singaporean? And why doesn't the ST reveal how much money Temasek, which comes under the control of the Ministry of Finance, headed by Lee Hsien Loong tell the people of Singapore?
Having said that, what is the bottom line of survival for the average Singaporean. Everything they own, as far as I can see and read, is 'locked in with PAP'. And what about the CPF money? How old will the average Singaporean be able to get their hands on their very own 'hard earned money'?

Anonymous said...

I think there's a big confusion over the terms attached to this highly emotive issue, no thanks to the simplistic arguments used by PM Lee at his National Day rally.

First, let's define the types of foreigners (used here in a broad sense) who comes to live or work or do both in Singapore.

There are the expatriates or expats. By definition, these are people (usually senior managers) who are sent by their companies to work in their S'pore operations, usually for a fixed term assignment (which could last many years).

We know these types. Living in landed properties or high-end condos with club memberships. Keep very much to themselves. The locals don't really like them but at the same time envy them. By the way, expats are not just ang-mohs, they can be Japanese, Koreans and very likely in the future mainland Chinese. We can't do much about this group because they ARE SENT by their companies. They usually return to their home country after their Singapore 'sojourn'.

The 2nd group is what I call the foreign labour group, people who come to Singapore on their own volition to look for work, whether low-skilled ot high-skilled. In this group are the employment pass and work permit holders, domestic workers and yes peidu mamas as well. Their motivation is to make money and their intention is not to live in Singapore long term.

Then there are the true-blue immigrants. People who come with the aim of settling in Singapore and making the best of their life here. Throughout our short S'pore history, we've always had immigrants: our great-grandparents who came from China or India to escape poverty back home, our Malaysian Chinese colleague who took up PR to escape discriminatory bumiputra policies. This group is usually very hardworking, starting at the bottom of the economic ladder and working their way up.

Singapore's history is the story of the 3rd group (that's why we're Singaporeans), followed by the emergence of the 1st group in the 70s. The 2nd group is a more recent phenomenon, starting with low-skilled construction workers, to maids, and then under the foreign talent policy, to IT and other white-collar workers.

This 2nd group is tolerated by us when the economy is strong, like in the halycon days of the early 90s. But not so when the economy is less strong.

Our government is making the basic mistake of grouping the three groups together and treating them the same. Its real focus is the second group, thinking that they can be easily 'upgraded' to the 3rd group. But it's not, as the motivations of the 2 groups are very different. It's also a fact that when the economy is slowing down and undergoing structural changes, increasing the 2nd group worsens structural unemployment among the locals.

I, like Yawning Bread, am pro-immigration. But we must make sure it is the 3rd group we are after.

Anonymous said...

SPH through the Straits Times and Newpaper seem confused. On one hand, they offer fairytale stories about PRs, towing the official position. On the other hand, they do not hesitate to demonise foreigners as they do with gays through recent stories on china brides and foreign doctors.

I am for immigration not merely because of quantitative reasons ie population or economy,but i believe human migration is a natural process. Having a more xenopobic attitude will just make us a poorer lot, both economically and morally.

Singapore is not the domain of the male hetrosexual middle class ethnic Chinese alone. KK

Anonymous said...

Singapore PR has some limitations.
The common situation is for PR to be granted because of employment. To travel overseas and return without losing PR statuts, one need to obtain a re-entry permit. Applying for a permit requires evidence of employment (though not necessarily with the same employer), and a retired person would not be able to obtain a permit in this way. It might come as a surprise to the retiree to find out that, the next time he/she travels, he/she will no longer be a PR.

Any dependent child granted PR with the parent can obtain a re-entry permit with the parent until adulthood, after which he/she has to apply for re-entry permit in his/her own right with evidence of employment.

Family reunion provisions of US and some other countries allow settled immigrants to bring in parents/parents in law, who then bring in their other children, who then ... This would probably be considered undesirable for Singapore, and people should be aware of the differences.

Anonymous said...

Hi anonymous (30-Aug-2006 08:01), Think your description is not quite the full facts lah! E.g. China PR can bring mother, father, mother-in-law, father-in-law, etc... just need to... (you guess it!) Pay-And-Pay deposite lor! ;)

joe angmoh blog said...

The straits times is not a newspaper. It is instead the most irritating propaganda paper in the world. They think they know it all, writing endless boring article, pontificating on every subjects with an arrogance that is at time baffling. Their ignorance is spelled in every articles.
So to expect the straits times to be original, independent, and write good articles is like asking the PAP to have a sense of humour.
Mission Impossible....
Even their food critique is an ignorant of monumental proportions.... How can you criticise food from a country when you haven't even been to that country?
Singapore is a country run by colourless nerds with not an ounce of humour nor character. Clones. Petrified to even take one tiny risk.
Anyway...The straits times....Only good to clean up dog crap.

Anonymous said...

parents can come on long term social visit passes, not as PR

Anonymous said...

newspapers are supposed to comment on all kinds of issues; the question is whether comments cover different angles or just one group of people's ideas

recruit ong said...

coldzero, dont be naive.

of the 12,900 new citizens last yr, how many are from so-called more liberalised societies? and how many are from 3rd world or 4th world countries? I sure would like to see the breakdown, provided the humji PAP gahmen dun classify it as "national secret" and keep it under wraps.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous (30-Aug-2006 17:45), O I C... u considering only those on the PR paper, not those physically here on whatever papers :P OK, my misunderstanding. My tot is does not matter what paper they come under, once they arrive there will be impact on Singapore society one way or another. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

The Singapore Government's aim of inflating the population via immigrants, mainly Chinese, is a political aim to show that Singapore's economic growth is 'doing well'. More workers, more jobs. However, this is short-termed, as with the increase of immigrants, there will also be a backlash of less jobs for Singaporeans. The fact is Singapore is a tiny city state, and how many people can it really sustain? I hope that I have been able to contribute the reasoning behind 'the political scene'.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the gahment has race as a criteria. If you look at those new citizens featured by the papers, they took pain to feature a mix of those from china, india, and others. In fact India is targeted in a big way because supposedly it is an emerging economic power.

Anonymous said...

>only those on the PR paper, not those physically here

the point I was making was: if you can bring in parents/parents in law, they can bring in their other children, who can bring in their parents in law, who can... so the family spreads; this cannot be done here

teck soon said...

The writer thor666 (above) mentions "when the Caucasians come in, the PRC workers curse and swear at them in Chinese". I have heard Singaporeans do this too. People do not feel at all uncomfortable about making racist comments in their mother tongue. There is also a palpable undercurrent of anti-white racism running through Singapore society, and I suspect it stems partly from anti-Western (Asian value-promoting) sloganeering from the government.

As an example, the anonymous commenter above used the word "ang-mohs" to refer to Caucasians: "...expats are not just ang-mohs, they can be Japanese, Koreans and very likely in the future mainland Chinese". In other words, this writer groups Asians by country using standard English terms, but lumps all Westerners into one derogatory category with no regard to how Caucasian readers may feel. I don't think it was intentional, but this lack of racial sensitivity is also a turnoff for immigration.

The reason I say this is because there are different types of immigrants. Some immigrants are uneducated, or come from the third world with even worse governments than Singapore's (like the PRC, where education does not include human rights). Some immigrants are educated and come from the first world (and most of the first world is in the West). Which group of people is more likely to tolerate restrictions on free speech, gay rights, press freedom, and freedom of assembly? Which group will be more likely to vote PAP? Which group is more likely to notice the problems in Singapore by reading online blogs by Singaporeans, written largely in English? I suspect, like Recruit Ong, that the 3rd world group is Singapore's current primary source.

How then will potential immigrants from the West, those entrepreneurial, foreign-investment types, view the litany of complaints and internet ranting about "ang-mohs" stealing all their jobs? I can think of words to call people of other races too. But as nice people, we don't use other words like that here. We only use "ang-moh". Why?

The Singapore government regularly says that Singapore is a welcoming, inclusive society with racial harmony. How quaint. If people were free to speak their minds without fear of arrest, would the "harmony" remain? Singapore likes to portray the U.S., for example, as what Singapore should NOT be (because the U.S. has some racists WITH the freedom of speech), but at least in the U.S. one can see exactly how much racism there is because people are free to voice their racist views. In Singapore, it is hidden through the use of second languages, strict speech laws, and subtleties like the word "ang moh".

The word "ang moh" is no longer a dialect equivalent for Caucasian. It has become, when used in English, an insidious term which means a job-stealing, woman-stealing (or man-stealing), rich, colonialist pig who wants to put his/her big white nose in our business and tell us how we should run our country, always complaining about human rights and poor service.

Right or not?

Re-think using racial slurs in blogs!

Anonymous said...

〉it stems partly from anti-Western (Asian value-promoting) sloganeering from the government

I doubt that; if japanese/koreans/hongkees/taiwanese
guys have money, SPGs, etc, but dont provide benefit to society in return, they too would be hated

teck soon said...

The above anonymous commenter implied that caucasians are generally well-off "but dont provide benefit to society in return". I sincerely think that grouping an entire race into a category like this is very sad and dangerous thinking. This same type of thinking is one reason why innocent Jewish families were slaughtered without mercy in the Holocaust.

With people under the impression that immigrants (especially Westerners) are coming here to steal jobs, not create jobs; to take money, not spend money; to cause problems and complain - then Singapore will likely fail in its drive to attract many worthy immigrants. Whether Singapore wants to be open to immigrants is not as big an issue for me as whether racism plays any role in it.

Rather than an inclusive, open, harmonious society, Singapore is gaining a reputation as a xenophobic, non-democratic, racist country. You will notice that instead of joining me in condeming racial hatred against a certain group, the above commenter merely confirmed that it exists and gave his reason for condoning it.

Anonymous said...

Today is fund raising for the "Yellow Ribbon" project. According to the intro behind the yellow ribbon pack, "each year, there are 11,000 ex-offenders release from their 1st physical prison. ... Most ex-offenders enter a '2nd prison' where they are stigmatised for having a criminal background. Your ACCEPTANCE is the key to unlocking this psychological and social imprisonment..."

Any idea how the govt and GLCs (being the biggest employer in Singapore) is showing by example on unlocking this 2nd prison, esp in terms of employment of ex-offenders? Surely there are some talents amongst the 11K released yearly that can be of use to govt service? Since Singapore face sortage of talent, how abt giving this people a 2nd chance before looking into foreign imports? Seems like it is NATO (no action talk only) by govt in appealing to public/private sector. Even if govt supposedly had tighter selection process, how abt the MPs who own pte companies? Any MP dare stand up to show that they are model employers on this front?

It is the same tune (or maybe even the same note - based on LHL?) from the ruling party time and again. Some time ago, a PM (I forgot if it was GCT or LHL) urged Singaporeans to donate 5% of their pay to charity. How many of the MPs are doing it? Even by conservative calculations of 5% of their million$ pay package (remember their pay is from public funds), each would only sacrifice $50K/year, but with 80 MPs it would raise a whooping total of $4million/year! Perhaps Mr "elected" President (who, btw, is not voted-in by Singaporeans) should consider canvassing for funds from his ministrial supporters for this year's President Star charity instead of looking askance from the public who are already smarting from the various fee hikes?

Mr President, MPs, a gentle reminder of an old saying applies "ACTION speaks louder than words".

Anonymous said...

i have lived in HK now for 6 years, and whenever i head back, i always get a bittersweet feeling. On the SQ plane, in the Customs lines, smiles are offered to foreigners rather than me. Taxi drivers are grumpy towards me but smiles for foreigners.

I just read this off asia1.com and found it so ironic, and relevant to the conversation here...


The government is also not prepared to waive rules to which the nation's 4.4 million residents are subject or create the impression that "foreigners have more rights than Singaporeans," added Mr Goh.

"We have very strict rules for our own locals and we can't have two standards, otherwise we would be in deep political trouble with our own citizens. The same rules which have applied to Singaporeans, which have always been applied to Singaporeans, cannot be changed for the benefit of foreign protesters."

Anonymous said...

I'll say something in the most delicate way I know how.

It should be quite obvious that the govt's immigration policy is to maintain the racial balance in this country. In putting it so delicately, I run the risk that it's not fully understood. So I'll further add that what I just said is not 100% correct, it's to mitigate the continuing imbalance in the growth of the racial mix. The govt will strenuously deny this and I wont fault them for doing so.

Perhaps, seen in this light, when one component race of the population is growing, and there is no legal means to curb it's growth, it then becomes cold, calculative solution that the rest of the population must grow at the same pace. All other considerations such as depriving local Singaporeans of jobs have to take second place. [Note to Yawning Bread: do scrutinise this carefully and I will not hold any objections if you decide not to allow this whole commentary to be posted.]

If in carrying out what we need to do, we are able to enrich the talent pool at the same time, then it's pure bonus.

And in regard to the many comments on the matter of Caucasian foreign talents (or even non-talents, hey I'm not taking sides), my gut feeling is that the numbers will be small and not worth diverting our attention.

Robert L

Anonymous said...

I personnal met the "real" foreign talent (not what the gahmen define, anyway, they are not able to judge by themselves). They are really good in their area of expertise. It is not because they do not want to stay here but its the traditional, unopen working culture that piss them off.

I am quite ashame of the working culture here (*maybe I am wrong)

Anonymous said...

poaching invites all kinds of problem. poaching should be stopped at all cost( with the exception of some cases where friendly foreign expertise maybe warranted). if each contain their greed/pride, each will be able to solve its own domestic problems. otherwise, this global selling and buying of men and women to protect one's interests will eventually lead to more "world wars".

the outcome of such a scenerio will be very ugly. and the biggest losers will be the commoners.

and all those who fraternize with this idea or cavort with wickedness ought to be ashamed and shot!

Anonymous said...

"poaching”allows the market to correct poor match between talent and employment; people not valued in one place might be bigshots in another

Anonymous said...

we need a true singaporean to be our leader and not a mathematician!

problem definition: Not enough young able people to contribute $$$ to economy.

mathematician: Overseas got plenty of young talents, give them incentives to come to SG and boost my economy. This is the most logical solution! Problem solved, locals hack care.

leader: Singaporean first, must invest on my own people. Have some backbone, don't sell backside!

Anonymous said...

Have the Goverment really sit down and thinK?
The relaxation rule to get foreign talents in and "citizenize"
to boost birth rate here? is this a knee jerk response?
What kind of talents we are talkin about here? A close look at the offices here show some expatriates working here lack work ethics or knowledge skills that made the locals snigger at this development .I rather have the Goverment just get Top minds like Professors, REsearchers Industrialists , Entrepreneurs from overseas to creat job oppurtunites for the masses here.

I can say the so call new PR or Citizen from overseas will be laughing all the way to the bank years down the road.

All they do is quit and renouced PR or
the Citizenship and take that CPF pot
of Gold back to their homeland .

I rather the Goverment focus on RETRAINING
RETRAINING RETRAINING the current the local citizens here so they can share the economical pie . With good pay and newly
designed jobs they may be happy enough to
breed like rabbits .

Anonymous said...

the government's long term interest is to maintain and strengthen the current order, and its short term efforts are designed to show some measurable results that testify to its competence and impact; while long term efforts are also recognized as important, they are regarded as maintenance rather than achievement