Economics – high returns but also high risk
For Singapore, our foreign workforce policies are geared towards precisely this – bringing in manpower based on the needs of our businesses, economy and society. Foreign manpower brings specialised skills to kick-start emerging industries, and over time we can build local talent in these areas. They also help spark new ideas and innovation, and their presence fuels a vibrant economy with job creation. The contributions of our foreign workforce are also evident in everyday life – they tend to the sick and help in caregiving for our family members; they build our houses and roads, and maintain our estates and green spaces.
On the flipside, Singapore has not always had a smooth-sailing relationship with immigration. We felt this not too long ago, when population grew too quickly, and infrastructure was not able to catch up. There have been noticeable improvements, now that foreign manpower policy has been tightened, and rapid infrastructure development (e.g. BTO flats, expansion of rail networks) has been underway and are coming on-stream. Going forward, we remain committed to invest, plan and build infrastructure ahead of demand. Concerns about job competition remain, and it is our top priority to develop local capability and skills, and ensure a level playing field for Singaporeans, even as we stay open.
Does immigration make sense for Singapore?
Immigrants will continue to be a part of Singapore society. With diversity and new points of view emerging, both within our citizen population and with newcomers to our shores, the day-to-day look and feel of Singapore will continue to evolve. Amidst differences, we’ve long been bound together as a nation by the values of multiculturalism, respect, and opportunities for success regardless of background. The task ahead is to continue cherishing and defending these values, and affirming the common things that unite us.
Immigration has its benefits and costs. Doing away with it also has serious implications. Together, we must continue to have open discussions on what immigration means for Singapore. Ultimately, the collective end result must be to build an even better home for Singaporeans and our children.