To be accused of being out of touch is a serious charge for politicians. But you can brush this off if you are the Prime Minister of an authoritarian nation like Singapore.
Speaking at a forum in Paris (29 Oct) he said that immigration had to be sustainable for Singapore. “Sustainable means we can handle the numbers, we can integrate them into our society – meaning our people are able to adapt to the inflow and the new immigrants are not so overwhelming that they dilute our core and our values, our ethos of society.”
Can handle the numbers? The government has lost control of the numbers in fact. Fault lines have developed with simmering tensions over jobs, housing and transport. In short, the government has been sleeping on the job and only woken due to the outcry on the internet.
The fundamental character of the Singapore society has been diluted. Often friends tell me they feel as if they are in a foreign country.
Humans will go to the ends of the world to seek a better life for themselves and their families. And once in a foreign land, they tend to stick with their own kind if their numbers are large enough. This is human nature.
We don’t blame them. We blame the government for opening the flood-gates to immigration, and then promptly fell asleep.
Migrant workers have been flocking to Singapore for the past 20 years. Their numbers have gradually increased exponentially.
So large are their numbers means they can easily form a HDB town if you put them altogether.
Has PM Lee seen how the Pinoy, PRC and Indians lead separate existence, each community in their own bubble? Now that their numbers are enormous, they laugh behind your backs about any talk of integration.
A German told me foreign workers in Germany are also not interested in integration. A Briton said immigrants have caused many social problems. I met these people on backpacking trips.
PM Lee continues to irritate people, and make himself a laughing stock with his out of touch declarations.
In contrast, PM David Cameron the other day said that massive immigration had robbed locals of their jobs.
Now before you go berserk with “Who is going to clear your garbage?” let me assure you that Singaporeans are not pleading for zero immigration.
Construction work, garbage disposal and road works are not jobs Singaporeans want to do. These labourers don’t rob Singaporeans of jobs. It’s the white collar jobs that we target.
Singaporeans are a pragmatic people. There are areas needing real skills or specialised knowledge, and people possessing these are welcome.
There’s nothing like first-hand experience. Talk is easy. Preaching even easier if done from ivory towers.
Why doesn’t PM Lee take the MRT to work to see things for himself?
Authoritarian governments dont give up power or even share power. They will hang on and on, prepared even to see their country torn apart. Assad of Syria comes to mind.
More and more, Singaporeans are beginning to sense that PM Lee is taking us down that dangerous path.
The writing is on the wall.
Public protest against massive immigration: government bent on ignoring widespread public opinion.