Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Immigration in Singapore

Immigration in Singapore

Norman Vasu
Yeap Su Yin
Chan Wen Ling
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 217
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Immigration in Singapore
    Book Description:

    This study traces the sociopolitical effects of immigration on Singapore and its population, a topic that has been the subject of intense debate in the nation as its population grows increasingly diverse. Beyond the logic of economic imperatives, the book aims to explore the larger consequences of taking in large numbers of immigrants, and its analysis should appeal to scholars of migration, social change, and public policy.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2342-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    (pp. 7-24)
    Norman Vasu, Yeap Su Yin and Chan Wen Ling

    The above excerpt from an interview with Singapore’s former Minister for Trade and Industry George Yeo raises interesting questions concerning the issue of immigration for the city-state.¹ In the decade since then, Singapore’s population increased from 4,027,900 to 5,076,700. Of this total, the number of Singaporean citizens went up by 244,800 (to 3,230,700 as at 2010) and the number of permanent residents by 253,500 (to 541,000 as at 2010), while nonresidents went up by 550,500 (to 1,305,000 as at 2010).² In 2011, 39.4 percent of Singaporeans married non-citizens.³ It appears then that more than ten years on, Singapore has continued...

  2. 1 Immigration in Singapore An Overview
    (pp. 25-36)
    Yap Mui Teng

    Debates on immigration and foreigners have become highly topical and controversial in Singapore in recent years. Both have been “blamed” for a variety of woes that Singaporeans currently face, including a widening income gap and wage stagnation among the lower income groups; rising competition (for jobs, housing, communal space, and the like); and a rising cost of living. Immigration and foreigners also featured prominently in the debates leading up to the general election in May 2011, and they are also said to have contributed to the decline in the ruling People’s Action Party’s share of parliamentary seats and popular votes.¹...

  3. 2 Angst, Anxieties, and Anger in a Global City Coping with and Rightsizing the Immigration Imperative in Singapore
    (pp. 37-66)
    Eugene K.B. Tan

    Singapore was, and remains, an immigrant society. Its immigration policy is heavily inflected by a pervasive sense of insecurity and economic vulnerability. Immigration in Singapore reflects two competing, perhaps even conflicting, anxieties. One is the state’s anxiety that if the population is not topped up adequately, quantitatively and qualitatively, then Singapore will go down the path of economic malaise, social vulnerability, and political irrelevance. Thus, the policy imperative to keep the immigration doors open must be abidingly strong and not waver. As former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew put it recently: “Our choice must be the other one – taking in...

  4. 3 The Politics of Immigration Unpacking the Policies of the PAP Government and Opposition in Singapore
    (pp. 67-92)
    Bilveer Singh

    In today’s Singapore, immigration has become a highly politicized issue. This can be seen through a number of political “pathways”: the politics of depravation, the politics of race, the politics of authoritarianism and illiberal democracy, and – somewhat unforeseen – the politics of nation-building and national identity. These pathways came about primarily through the government’s stance of adopting an open-door policy towards immigration. This was initiated without much fanfare – with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) leaders announcing that the country needed and would benefit from an influx of “foreign talent.” Foreign talent became a euphemism for the trickle and eventual flood...

  5. 4 Social Integration of Immigrants into Multiracial Singapore
    (pp. 93-114)
    Mathew Mathews and Danielle Hong

    While most modern nation-states are multicultural to some degree in that they are composed of people with distinct ethno-racial, linguistic, or religious cultures, the level of interaction and exposure of those who are culturally different is sometimes limited based on geographical boundaries and group segregation practices. Globalization and its concomitant immigration has, however, increased population diversity particularly in economically developed societies. This has led a number of societies to adopt multicultural policies to deal with immigration. Essentially such policies are meant to ensure the inclusion of immigrant populations into mainstream society, improve their social and economic position, and accord them...

  6. 5 Reconstructing Singapore as a Cosmopolitan Landscape The Geographies of Migration and its Social Divisions that Extend into the Heartlands
    (pp. 115-128)
    Elaine Lynn-Ee Ho

    Almost a decade ago, Kong and Yeoh argued, in the context of Singapore, that “landscapes play an integral role in the (re)construction of ‘nation’ [and] national identity … Particular ideological constructions of ‘nation’ are made to appear natural when concretised in the landscape.”¹ In the book, they address this with respect to landscapes of death, religion, housing, toponymic inscriptions, heritage, and the arts. However, in the last ten years Singapore’s cultural landscape has metamorphosed significantly as a result of the twin pressures of globalization and new immigration, prompted by state-led exhortations to transform Singapore into a global cosmopolitan city. This...

  7. 6 “Family, Worker or Outsider” Employer-Domestic Helper Relations in Singapore
    (pp. 129-146)
    Theresa W. Devasahayam

    Since 1960, Singapore’s aim in its national development agenda was to create conditions in which multinational corporations (MNCs) could be wooed to the country’s shores to invest in its fledgling labour-intensive manufacturing industries. Soon there was a burgeoning of job opportunities especially for cheap low-skilled labour that came to be filled mostly by women. While in the 1960s, one out of five women was working,¹ the female labour force participation rate (FLFPR) continued to rise steadily to reach 44 percent by 1980.² Since then, the female labour force participation rate has only gradually increased: in 1990, it was 50.7 percent,...

  8. 7 Whither Integration? Managing the Politics of Identity and Social Inclusion
    (pp. 147-174)
    Leong Chan-Hoong

    Singapore, like many other modern developed economies, faces a rapidly ageing society and a low fertility rate. In 2011, the total fertility rate (TFR), or average number of newborn to each female resident hit an all-time low of 1.15. At the same time, the old-age support ratio or number of working adults supporting a Singaporean aged 65 years old and above stands at 7.0.¹ If there is no increase in the birth rate or immigration, by 2030 this support ratio is projected to fall to below 3.0.² Without sufficient labour replacement, future generations of Singaporeans will be saddled with escalating...

  9. 8 Permanent Residents Serving National Service Round Pegs in a Square Hole?
    (pp. 175-198)
    Ho Shu Huang and Yolanda Chin

    National Service (NS) was introduced in post-independence Singapore in 1967 to provide an enduring source of trained manpower for Singapore’s defence needs. Presently, all medically fit male citizens and second-generation Permanent Residents (PR) are required to serve NS.¹ Aside from this latter group, foreigners do not need to serve NS. The sizeable increase in the number of foreigners in Singapore in recent years has drawn sharp attention to this fact. In a ministerial forum with then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong held in 2010, university student and Operationally Ready National Serviceman Lim Zi Rui² rued, “With all the changes in...

  10. Biographies of Contributors
    (pp. 215-218)