Immigration, Population, and Foreign Workforce in Singapore: An Overview of Trends, Policies, and Issues, pp. 9 of 13

The Singapore state’s response: tighten up immigration; strengthen the “Singaporean Core”; promote integration

To address the recent local dissidence against immigration, the government has adopted mainly three strategies: tightening up immigration, strengthening the “Singaporean Core”, and promoting social integration.

Since late 2009, the government has evidently tightened its immigration framework (The National Population and Talent Division, 2010). Figure 7 shows the total numbers of Permanent Residence (PR) and Citizenship granted between 2007 and 2015. A significant decline in the number of PRs granted was witnessed between 2008 and 2010. Besides, the qualifying salary for Employment Pass has been gradually raised from S$2,500 in the first decade of the 2000s, to the current level of S$3,600 (Kok, 2011; Lin, 2011; The Straits Times, 2016 ). As the Minister of State for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin noted, “the Government is taking steps at the national level to moderate the demand for foreign labour, by raising levies, qualifying salaries, and qualifications for work permits” (Cited in Kor, 2011). Measures have been taken to curb the number of international students as well. In a parliamentary reply in 2011, the Ministry of Education said it would cap the international student undergraduate intake at the present level while increasing university places for Singaporeans (The Ministry of Education, 2011; Yeoh and Lam, 2016).

Alongside downsizing immigration, the government is also trying to strengthen the “Singaporean Core.” In his Chinese New Year Message in 2011, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (2011) said:

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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