The Singapore quandary

Lim Sue Goan (Translated by Soong Phui Jee)
Sin Chew Daily

A friend from China jokingly said that Singapore would be led by Chinese immigrants 50 or 100 years from now.

Such a scenario may actually be possible. Chinese immigrants can now be found everywhere in Singapore and over a third of its five million population are said to be foreigners.

Singapore is facing a population ageing problem. Its fertility rate is lower than its population replacement rate. Hence, the Singapore government has to bring in immigrants and foreign workers to support its economic development. The Singapore government has always adopted the pragmatic approach in the interest of the country.

According to Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, Singaporeans have become less hard-driving and hard-striving.

He said that if native Singaporeans are falling behind because the spurs are not stuck into the hide, that is their problem.

Chinese immigrate to Singapore to look for a better life and they will sure work hard even in a discriminated environment, so that their children can receive a better education.

Together with the low fertility rate of Singaporeans, a child of Chinese immigrants could possibily become the country’s prime minister within two or three generations.

The increasing number of Chinese immigrants has caused unhappiness among some native Singaporeans.

It was reported that when a Singaporean young woman was complaining tearfully to her daughter in a train about her husband who had a secret affair with a Chinese immigrant woman, she called her “a Chinese bitch”. But a Chinese immigrant woman sitting next to her thought she was referring to her. As a result, they had a shouting match for 30 minutes.

The serious contradictions between Singaporean citizens and foreign immigrants were a result of the country’s policies. The people have to bear the consequences of their choice to accept Chinese immigrants. Similar to its liberal economic, conservative politics system, it brings both positive and negative impact.

Although Singapore enjoys a prosperous economy, it is not a perfect country. A Singaporean who received the Malaysian Association of Chinese Newspaper Editors representatives said: “You (Malaysian Chinese Newspapers) always praise Singapore but we don’t think our country is so good.” He cited the flood in Orchard Road and the escape of a terrorist as shameful events to have happened in the country.

It is a justified view. The Singapore government is too pragmatic, causing people to think that there is too much of intervention in their life. Thus, many Singaporeans think they have everything and the country is safe, but life is boring.

Take the casinos as an example, Singapore has a good control mechanism as even small cards are placed at toilets in the casinos to remind the people to stay away from gambling.

But allowing the operation of casinos is actually a test for human nature. It may not bring any social problem in a few months time but the society will have to pay the price a few years later, or when Kuan Yew is no longer around.

Similarly, the society is very open to allow topless shows, but its politics is being tightly controlled. An overly controlled country will face difficulties in finding qualified political successors. Kuan Yew’s set of political thinking may be a disaster to the country once he is no longer around to make correct judgments.

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