SINGAPORE: Most Singaporeans accept that immigration is important, but many also feel that immigrants can do more to integrate into Singapore.
This is according to an Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) survey of about 4,000 Singapore citizens and permanent residents last year. The findings were released at the National Integration Council (NIC) Convention on Saturday (Aug 3).
About nine in 10 of those surveyed felt that it was good to have people of different nationalities living in the same neighbourhood. They also said they can learn a lot from the immigrants’ cultures.
But more than six in 10 said immigrants are not doing enough to integrate into Singapore.
Dr Mathew Mathews, senior research fellow at IPS, said this could be a matter of perception.
“Few people see some of the community kind of activities, some of the attempts of the neighbourhood, in the workplace to do that. Also, sometimes it also points out the fact that there might be issues that immigrants may need to be more informed. Maybe there are cultural practices, local norms which they may not be so familiar with,” he said.
SINGAPORE NEEDS TO REMAIN OPEN TO NEWCOMERS: GRACE FU
Speaking at the convention, Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu said that being open and integrating immigrants in Singapore is a part of the country’s evolution.
And while there are challenges to integration, Singapore must remain open to newcomers, especially given its ageing population, increasing numbers of transnational families and a low replacement rate.
“In fact, our openness and ability to work with people from different backgrounds has become our competitive advantage and a strength to our economy. These qualities will help us as we strive to be a hub in areas such as technology, infrastructure development, and research and innovation. We also benefit when people with resources and ideas continue to invest in Singapore, injecting vibrancy in our economy, and creating more opportunities for Singaporeans and our businesses,” she said.
NEW WORKGROUP TO LOOK AT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE SINGAPOREAN
Ms Fu announced that a new workgroup will be formed with Singaporeans to refresh the content of the Singapore Citizenship Journey. The programme helps new citizens deepen their knowledge of Singapore’s history and culture, and also gives them opportunities for meaningful interaction with the community.
“The workgroup will develop content that explains our values and obligations as Singaporeans, the norms of our society, and create a common understanding of our culture and national history. Citizens will have a say in what it means to be a Singaporean,” she said.
Ms Fu noted a series of dialogues were held from March to June to seek ideas on what more the NIC should do.
“For instance, we picked up that one of the major stumbling blocks is the limiting beliefs and perceptions about each other due to stereotypes, fear of rejection and lack of trust. To overcome this, many of our participants agreed that daily interactions at the personal level is the best place to start from, but we need to first overcome our initial inertia,” she said.
She called on individuals and organisations to do their part in their respective spheres to help improve integration.
16 RECOGNISED FOR PROMOTING SOCIAL INTEGRATION
More than 200 participants from organisations such as community groups, immigrant associations and businesses attended the convention.
Sixteen organisations and individuals were recognised for their efforts to promote social integration between Singaporeans and foreigners. They include Republic Polytechnic, PwC Singapore and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
A commemorative book was also launched to mark the 10th anniversary of the NIC. Titled Notes of Gratitude, it chronicles the council’s efforts and celebrates contributions from the people, public and private sectors to social integration.