Saturday, April 30, 2011

Election Issues: Immigration

Immigration is the hottest election issue.

It is the crux of the multitude of  grievances the pervade Singapore:  high housing cost, low wages, unemployment and job insecurity, road and train congestion,  preferential treatment of foreigners (without National Service obligation), university places, scholarships, prostitution, family breakdown caused by PRC women, alien cultural practices.

The following post (source) reflects the widespread anxiety concerning the future of Singapore.

Revisited: PRC teacher obtained Singapore citizenships within TWO months

While real foreign talents like Mr Peter Kriz who graduated with a major in economics from Stanford University and a doctorate from Harvard University are denied Singapore PR (here), unskilled foreigners with NO special qualifications or expertise are given Singapore PR and citizenships within months.

Let us revisit the Zhang Yuanyuan fiasco (here) last year:

Singapore PR Zhang Yuanyuan was lambasted by Singapore netizens for “renouncing” her PR on China’s National TV. Ms Zhang had earlier returned to China to participate in its 60th National Day Parade in Beijing.

In the CCTV Channel 7 news clip which was circulated widely on the internet, a beaming Ms Zhang showed her blue Singapore NRIC on the screen and proclaimed her desire to serve China, her motherland.

When interviewed by the Singapore media, Ms Zhang was nonchalant about the storm she stirred:

It’s nothing much. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. They can say anything they like on the Internet,” she said in Mandarin.

Ms Zhang graduated from an unknown institution in China with a diploma and came to Singapore on a student pass. For two years, she studied English at the Cambridge Institute here.

Later, she became a Chinese language teacher at Julia Gabriel Centre for Learning for three years. At that time, she was also taking a degree course in business management at the Asia Pacific Management Institute.

Ms Zhang said she applied for permanent residency in 2006. It took only about TWO MONTHS to get approval.

At that time, I thought it might be easier if I wanted to travel between the two countries,” she added.

A Chinese teacher is NOT a foreign “talent”. We have so many Chinese teachers in Singapore. Zhang would not be able to work in any other countries like Australia, Canada or New Zealand, let alone obtain PRs there.

Unlike in the past when only skilled workers are offered PRs, semi-skilled workers like Ms Zhang can now obtain PRs in a short span of time. In fact, some of them are even “actively” courted by the government to take up Singapore citizenship.

The Singapore government has eased restrictions for China nationals to study and work in Singapore in recent years.

It has become very easy for students in China to obtain a study pass to study in private English schools in Singapore. However, not all of them are here purely for academic purposes.

Some Chinese girls end up working part-time in karaoke lounges or as mistresses of rich Singapore businessmen. A few even ply their trade along the alleys of Geylang over the weekend.

The relentless influx of foreigners to Singapore had sparked massive unhappiness and disgruntlement on the ground.

Despite concerns from citizens that they are facing stiff competition from the newcomers, the government is adamant that its immigration policy will continue though it will “slow” the inflow of foreigners.

To make foreigners feel more welcomed in Singapore, the government has unveiled a series of measures to help them “integrate” into Singapore society including a $10 million Community Integration Fund to organize activities and events for them.

While some Singaporeans scoffed at the government’s attempts to “import” more foreigners as “cheapening” our citizenship, there is nothing they can do about it as long the incumbent remains in power.

During his recent National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong used the example of  PRC BUS DRIVER as a “model” immigrant who has contributed to Singapore.

With due respect to bus drivers, how they can be considered as “foreign talents” is beyond one’s comprehension. Does Singapore lack bus drivers that we have to import them from China and, furthermore, give them PR and citizenship?

Singapore must be the ONLY country in the world which gives PRs and citizenships to bus drivers, cleaners, construction workers, masseurs and even freelance prostitutes.

Even in Hong Kong, which is only a stone-throw away from China, it is nearly impossible for the mainland Chinese to obtain Hong Kong PR after working there for a number of years.

South Korea, which is the two most popular immigration destination for Chinese college students also impose stringent controls on the intake of Chinese workers though it has a low fertility rate comparable to ours as well.

Are we getting real foreign talents to complement our workforce and make us more competitive or are we getting economic migrants to add to the electoral registry as voters for them to vote for the PAP?

[On the likely impact of new citizens on the current election: here]

It is only natural that peasants from China, India and elsewhere will be eternally grateful to the PAP regime for offering them a second chance and better life in Singapore and thereby “repay” its kindness with their votes in the coming elections. However, are they adding to our fertility as well?

The population in 1999 was 3,958,700 – with the citizens and PRs numbering 3,229,700. By 2009 it was 4,987,600 – and a resident population of 3,733,900.

Over the ten year period, while the total population had exploded by 1,028,900 – the number of citizens and PRs had grown only 504,200. [See Ref #1 below]

Resident Live Births in 1998 was 41,636 – and in 2008, it was 37,277  [See Ref #2 below]

Resident Total Fertility Rate in 1998 was 1.48 – and in 2008, it was 1.28 [See Ref #2 below]

After ten years, our total fertility rate dropped from 1.48 in 1998 to 1.22 in 2009. Our population increase for the last ten years is fueled largely by immigration with no consequent increase in total fertility at all.

To put it bluntly, the new immigrants are not having two or more children and they are contributing to our aging population instead thereby imposing a greater burden on our limited public healthcare resources in the next few decades or so.

There is an urgent need to discuss and debate on our present immigration policies so that we will be getting real foreign talents like Mr Kriz rather than foreign “trash” like Zhang Yuanyuan who use Singapore only as a stepping board for greener pastures elsewhere.

Reference 1
Table A5 – Population 1871-2009,
Pg 27 or PDF Pg 37/72

Reference 2
Table A12 – Live Births and Birth Rates, 1980 – 2008,
Pg 44 or PDF Pg 54 / 72

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