Foreign talent and migrants in Singapore give the economy an extra boost, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday amid worries among locals that they are losing out to the newcomers.
With Singapore’s small population base, relying on local manpower resources alone will not be enough, Lee said in his key annual policy speech broadcast on television.
“We allow in foreign workers and new immigrants because doing so will benefit Singaporeans,” Lee said in Mandarin.
“Our economy has become more vibrant and diversified because of foreign workers.
“Without their participation, there will not be enough Singapore workers to grow the economy.”
Foreign migrants’ contributions also extend to the sporting arena, where the women’s table tennis team, made up of China-born nationals, had guaranteed Singapore would win at least a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics by reaching the final, Lee said. Singapore later took the silver after defeat to China.
“Outside of economics, foreign talent also strengthens our ranks in sports. So we cannot rely only on local talent,” he said.
Singapore’s only other Olympic medal came at the 1960 Rome Olympics when weightlifter Tan Howe Liang won silver.
Singapore had a population of 4.59 million in 2007, including more than a million foreign workers and their families.