Our government is trying to bring in at least 20,000 new citizens each year in the hope of arresting the low birth rate here.
Transitioning is carrying out a qualitative survey on the views of local Singaporeans towards this contentious move and will post the survey response periodically on this blog.
Transitioning(T): First of all, thanks Jason for helping us with this online interview, can you state your age, marital status, educational qualifications and work experience?
Jason (J): 41 years old, married, tertiary educated, 20 years of work experience.
T: Do you agree with the government’s stand to bring in 20,000 new citizens each year to stem the current low birth rate here? Why so?
J: I disagree with the need to fix a quota as to how many foreigners the government can or would bring in to Singapore. However, I felt the government can impose more legislation to create better or compulsory work life balances thus in the long run increase the marriage or birth rates.
T: What do you think the government can do alternatively instead of bringing in fresh foreign citizens to beef up the population?
J: Create more legislation for work life balances and more incentives for parents to give more flexibilities and conveniences in bringing up a child despite both parents having to juggle a career. More child care facilities and also promote more pro-family corporate practices e.g. making 5-day work week mandatory for executive positions or even as much for blue-collared positions too.
T: Many Singaporeans have cry foul with the ease foreigners has in attaining permanent resident status and then citizenship later on, what are some of the measures you hope to see so that the immigration processing can be further tightened up?
J: Foreigners should only be given PR status if they have work in Singapore for X number of years and have been given a good testimonial by their employers or peers. As for citizenship, they must clock certain hours of volunteering in helping needy Singaporeans or at least justified with their notable contributions to fellow Singaporeans or the nation in order to be seriously considered for citizenship. These criteria should be non-monetary in nature.
T: Many netizens have also commented that bringing in large numbers of foreign citizens is one of the sinister plot of the government to convert them into loyal voters for the next general election in 2016, do you agree with this statement? Why so?
J: I disagree as there is no substantial proof to this saying and these foreigners turned Singapore citizens are dumb. So if Singaporeans felt being oppressed by the incumbent government, sooner or later these new citizens will feel the same way as in their home countries they are also potentially more politically liberal or verbal.
T: Our government has being asking Singaporeans to accept and help foreigners assimilate into our culture, do you think this is happening now? What are some of the things you hope to see plan out with regard to social integration programmes?
J: It’s the natural thing to do as Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, religions, races, beliefs, nationalities etc etc. So just like our old kampong days where we welcome anyone that chose to reside there, now in the bigger landscape, it should also be the same. As long as everyone gives each other their mutual respect as human beings.
T: On a personal level, how are you affected by the influx of foreigners into our midst and what is the maximum number of foreigners you want to see living in our country at any one time?
J: Just like any other Singaporean, I’m also not spared by the influx of foreigners however we must take such changes in our strides. In terms of the workforce, the government can and should implement better legislation to level the competition and eliminate discrimination by employers that are out to reduce manpower costs to improve their bottomline. It needs not be a full-fledged employment protectionism policy but a sufficient safeguard. Singaporeans on the other hand should asked themselves if they have been too sheltered since the 1990’s so much so that they have forgotten how to be competitive despite the home ground advantage?
T: Many people have commented that our government should do more to help our young couples give birth given the chronic work stress and high cost of living here, do you agree with this? Why so?
J: Yes, I certainly agree. But young workers have also themselves to blame as they aspire for the 4 or 5 Cs in life thus they go all out to win the hearts and minds of their bosses by working long hours therefore it soon became a societal norm or practice. Young workers should learn to say no to their bosses and also bite only the amount that they can chew comfortably and not sacrifice their family time or work life balances. Many are over confident of keeping in touch with family and friends through social media or technology. I don’t see my staff as productive or efficient if they work OT daily rather I find them lack time management skills. Also I frown on people who practices reply to every single emails on the go through their smartphones, anytime, anywhere. The biggest excuse on everybody’s mind is “I don’t have enough time” which is very lame.
T: What are some of the other areas you want our government to look into in the area of birth issue?
J: More incentives to give birth can be in terms of infrastructures like child care centres, paternity leaves, compulsory 5 day work week, greater health care subsidies, etc.
T: lastly, do you believe that our country is in one of the worse post-war period now and that the next few years will be tough for Singaporeans given the intense competition for employment due to the huge foreign influx and fight for physical space?
J: I agree as even if the government were to implement new measures to alleviate the problem, it will still take at least 5 – 10 years for things to normalise or be accepted by all. In fact, it’s not just about the government taking action to arrest the deteriorating current birth situation but rather also fellow Singaporeans taking ownership and stepping up to chip in and putting in their effort to contribute as one nation.
Thank you and end of interview.