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Foreign-born versus local-born

That survey on Being Singaporean is one of the most interesting I’ve seen so far, so much so that I QRed the full study (or whatever was released to the media…). I wondered at a few of the markers, the 30 of them. You know that Behaving like a Singaporean and Taking part in typical Singaporean past-times are among them? And ranked poorly? I thought maybe it’s because the phrases weren’t explained to respondents. But no. Seems respndents had to give examples – Top of the pops, we’re kiasu! Next, we are polite, Third, we queue. Sharing fourth place – we speak Singlish and complain a lot! As for typical Singaporean past-times, playing mahjong actually featured in the list!

That’s by the by. What also set me thinking was how Owning a home ranks higher among the foreign-born. Maybe it’s because local-born take it for granted. Kinda like a birth-right.

I wish some more reference was made as to how the different socio-economic classes view integration. Might shed some light on the other worrisome thing about Singapore: The widening income gap. The study has such statistics but I can’t make head or tail of some of the jargon. Seems to be the less-educated, lower-income have a different view compared to the rest…

There was also a category on threats from immigration – whether they weaken social cohesion, shoulder enough social responsibilites and put the squeeze on housing, medical services and transport. It’s pretty split among those who agree/disagree. I am quite sure the authors have analysed the statistics even further, breaking them down into sub-categories….

That’s the thing about statistics. You should really get into the full set of data instead of relying on top-line findings. There was a useful “policy implications” bit from the authors – three were pretty standard fare – how National Service is a sore point, that there are some areas local-born and foreign-born don’t see eye-to-eye on and to avoid “problematising” immigration. The fourth is this: The immigration system should be made more transparent and have periodic releases of immigrant profile data. Now, that would be useful! Stops us guessing. Just last week, there was already some discussion about fewer Malay/Muslim immigrants getting in – so should we let more of them in from non-traditional countries? What’s the proportion of foreign-born among the Chinese and Indian communities here?

One of the authors was quoted saying that the integration issue is really one of “emotions” – that’s true. As Chua Mui Hoong said on Sunday, you can rationalise the need for FT all you want…but you can’t ignore the tugging at the heart.

I hope the media takes another bite at the survey. There’s still room for aspects to be discussed.

BTW, I noticed that Minister Chan replied to some bits of Prof Tommy Koh’s piece on emulating Europe published on Saturday. I don’t know why the ST’s so coy about naming Prof Koh; My Paper did. It’s good always to hear clarifications – so those Nordic countries have a higher birth-rate, cos there are plenty of babies born out of wedlock. I didn’t think of that….

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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