SINGAPORE: The debate on the White Paper on Population continued with one key issue resonating in the speeches of many MPs.
The concern many had was the possible dilution of the Singaporean identity, with the plan to bring more foreigners into Singapore.
Questions were asked about how to maintain a strong Singaporean core.
Member of Parliament for Holland—Bukit Timah GRC Liang Eng Hwa submitted a proposal to amend the White Paper to further reinforce the point on encouraging more Singaporeans to get married and have children in order to maintain a strong Singaporean core.
It was a point several others also agreed with.
Mr Liang said: "I am more concerned about the higher proportion of foreigners relative to citizens residing in this island come 2030. I cannot imagine what kind of Singapore it would be like.
"We still have time to prevent this from happening. Besides, stronger incentives to improve citizen fertility rate and increase productivity to reduce dependence on foreign workers, we should test—bed new business models and technology where foreigners can work for us and yet remain in their home country, for example, by offshoring."
Dr Amy Khor, mayor of South West CDC said: "As much as any new citizen could pack up and leave Singapore, so could any other Singaporean. Instead, we should continue to enhance our integration efforts to help new citizens adapt to our Singaporean way of life and sink deep roots, while adding to Singapore’s rich diversity.
"It will take time, perhaps one generation, for the children of these new citizens to undergo the same rites of passage as our home—grown children — schooling and national service to develop a stronger Singapore identity."
In addition, David Ong, MP for Jurong GRC said: "We have handled several appeals at our Meet—the—People sessions, requesting for their family nucleus to stay together as citizens in Singapore. The government should consider these citizens as lower hanging fruits to build our Singapore core. This way there is greater possibility of a foreign immigrant being more rooted and integrated to Singapore through marriage."
He also suggested: "It is an interesting fact that the number of additional births this nation needs to replace itself is nearly the same number of babies or pregnancies that we see aborted each year. One solution to boost our low birth rate is to improve our support to unwed mothers or even mothers in families caught in a difficult situation. The government can do more to encourage and support the married women who account for more than 50 per cent of the abortions in Singapore to keep and raise their children.
"For unwed mothers and those who for one reason or another, cannot raise their child, we must help provide a viable and worthy option of placing the child for adoption. From feedback gathered from voluntary welfare organisations, many couples want to parent a child but are unable to have one of their own."
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