OPPOSITION PARTIES SHOULD SPEAK UP FOR THE CONCERNS OF NEW CITIZENS

In my view, some opposition parties inflicted a lot of damage on themselves when they went on vocally against immigration. First, however, it should be noted that immigration is really of three kinds:

Low-wage work migration, to do the jobs that few Singaporeans want to do;

Mid- and higher-income work migration, generally perceived as competing against Singaporeans for limited jobs;

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Naturalisation into new citizens.

Much of the electoral campaigning by parties centred on the second. Even the Workers’ Party, often perceived as PAP-Lite, “proposes to limit foreign workforce growth by holding steady the current level of foreign workforce numbers”, in other words, a freeze (manifesto 2015).

Much stronger sentiments could be heard from the Reform Party and the Singaporeans First Party.

After the results came out, there was much blame laid on newly naturalised citizens (i.e. those who came in after the 2011 election) for the nearly 10% swing in the People’s Action Party’s favour.

At the forum, I made one suggestion which I have never heard anyone else make before. I said opposition parties should begin to speak up for the concerns of new citizens; if possible find one or two as candidates. Speaking up for their concerns shouldn’t be very difficult. In real life, their concerns are not much removed from native-born Singaporeans’ concerns: education for their children, cost of living, etc. It just takes a special effort to signal that we’re cognisant and accepting of their place within Singapore.

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