Singapore's Minister Mentor Advises Singaporeans To Welcome And Accept Migrants
Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew advised that Singapore would need overseas talent to drive its economy, and that Singapore must not shy away from embracing new, highly educated migrants, who will contribute in Singapore's pursuit of sustaining Singapore's growth as an attractive hub for international trade, investment and talent.
Speaking at the first Singapore Indian New Year Celebrations at Serangoon Road on 17 April 2010, Mr Lee elaborated on how Singapore grew from a fishing village to a trading post under the British, and now a vibrant metropolis, benefiting from being open to immigrants from around the world, especially China, India and the region. He described that even though the first generation migrants might find it difficult to take on local habits and accents, but with "their children, attending our schools, will grow up totally as Singaporeans", he added.
Mr Lee then attributed that new citizens and permanent residents, who are mostly skilled professionals in finance, IT and research and development, have helped raise Singapore's profile and have helped made the country more competitive and dynamic. He advised that with Singapore's declining population, Singapore would need more educated immigrants, including those who have studied or worked in the US and Europe.
The challenge, he admitted, was in integrating newcomers. This would be the task of the National Integration Council, People's Association and Community Groups. He cited the Singapore Indian New Year Celebrations, where he was addressing, as an example - that it was such an event that brought together Singaporeans of 10 different Indian ethnic groups (Tamils, Telugus, Ceylon Tamils, Malayalees, Gujaratis, Kannadigas, Maharashtrians, Sikhs, Bengalis and Sindhis - Together, they represent 95 per cent of the Indians here). He cited that although the first wave of migrants was labourers, merchants and policemen, but the current generation are "better-educated and wealthy", contributing to Singapore's economy. He identified that even Indian temples in Singapore receiving elegant makeovers are seen as part of Singapore's transformation through the years.
President of the Maharashtra Mandal Singapore (representing the Maharashtrian community - one of the Indian ethnic groups in Singapore), Mr Akhil Kulkarni, was also present at the event. He estimated that some 30 per cent of Maharashtrians arrived in Singapore in the past five years, and he felt that Mr Lee's speech on integration was very encouraging.