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We will maintain racial balance among S’poreans: PM Lee

SINGAPORE — The racial balance in Singapore will not change in spite of the immigration plans as set out in the White Paper on Population, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

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SINGAPORE — The racial balance in Singapore will not change in spite of the immigration plans as set out in the White Paper on Population, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

His assurance that the Government will continue to “maintain the features and characteristics of Singapore as a society” comes after some Malay Members of Parliament expressed concerns during the five-day debate of whether the community’s proportion will shrink along with the Singaporean core.

On Monday, Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap (Aljunied GRC) said he was concerned about the racial ratios being skewed due to Malays emigrating because of a perceived lack of equal opportunities here. Ms Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio GRC) added there was “a common feeling” among the community that “a decrease in our population will affect racial stability and interracial relations in Singapore”.

In his Malay speech yesterday, Mr Lee assuaged such anxieties: “We will maintain the racial balance among Singaporeans. The percentage of Malays among Singapore citizens will continue to be stable, even into the long-term.”

Mr Lee also made it clear that the Government will continue to prioritise citizens in “all our policies”, even as it slows the inflow of immigrants to a “more manageable rate”.

“Meritocracy will ensure our citizens succeed based on their abilities. But we will continue to look after those who need assistance, so that they are able to be independent and enjoy available opportunities,” he said.

“By working together, we can create more opportunities for all Singaporeans in our multi-racial community and unite. The future will depend on our efforts to strengthen the Singapore spirit — resilience, desire for success, and commitment to improve our lives.”

He also pointed out that none of the ethnic groups’ procreation rates are at replacement levels and added that the Government’s “most important priority” is to encourage citizens to marry and have more children.

During his Mandarin speech, Mr Lee reiterated that the White Paper’s population figure of 6.9 million is not a target, but a “reference ... to make preparations” in infrastructure.

“If we don’t plan, then, if the population were to increase to 6.9 million or above, we would not be sufficiently prepared for it.”

He also reiterated that the Government is not pursuing economic growth “blindly”, but so that future generations “can continue to live happily and peacefully here in this society, in this country”.

Responding to the Workers’ Party’s position that only home-born Singaporeans can make up the core of Singapore, Mr Lee called it a “very pessimistic and very narrow-minded way”.

Citing a Chinese classical saying that says “we can all be gracious, be generous and be able to have others amongst our midst”, Mr Lee said: “So no matter which era we live in, no matter where we live, these foreign immigrants, as long as they’re determined enough, they can integrate into our society,” he said.

“Policies we need to be very careful, we need to be comprehensive but principles, we must be very clear.” Amir Hussain

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