Transparency, please, ICA

The Straits Times Forum (6 Dec) carried this letter:

Fewer PRC nationals than reported

THE Special Report, ‘Young dragons’ (Nov 22) gave some gross overestimates of the number of PRC nationals in Singapore.

Our records show that the total number of persons from all Asian countries (excluding South-east Asia) who are in Singapore is 852,000. This includes China, India, Bangladesh and 30 other countries. Hence the number of PRC nationals is obviously only a fraction of that, and not ‘close to one million’ as cited in the report.

Likewise, the number of nationals from these same countries who have acquired permanent residence or Singapore citizenship over the past 20 years is 239,000. Again, only a fraction would have been PRC nationals, and not ‘between 300,000 and 400,000’, as estimated by the Tian Fu Club.

Ong-Kong Yong Sin (Mrs)
Senior Public & Internal Communications Executive
Immigration & Checkpoints Authority

I think it is plain to me that our immigration authorities have the figures but are unwilling to release the exact number of PRC nationals and PRs living in Singapore. This has led to the “gross overestimates” by even supposedly reputable sources like the Straits Times.

Why is it so difficult to release these nuggets of gold? Do Singaporeans not have the right to know how many foreigners from each country are in their midst?

Or is it because the ICA has something to hide — perhaps the fact that this “fraction” of 852,000 is closer to 9/10 than 1/2. I think our government owes it to Singaporeans to come clean with these figures. If it turns out that the vast majority of foreigners and PRs in Singapore originate from China, then they need to explain the reasons for this gross imbalance of immigrants. Are they trying to boost the population of a certain race, or is it just that China produces a disproportionate number of talented people?

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

4 thoughts on “Transparency, please, ICA”

  1. So far the ICA and the Authorities do not deemed it fit for them to release the actual figures to us. The question is WHY ?

    Obviously, they must have something to hide.
    What if we further demand a further breakdown in terms of race and religion.

    I’m sure they don’t know how to present the truth with the facts telling a different story from what they have been saying all along.

    The next obvious question would be will the statistics be massaged to hide certain facts.

    Only the ICA can tell.

  2. Gerald, you can try writing in to ICA for the exact figures. However, the most probable response from ICA that you’ll get is “No, the information is too sensitive for the public”. For the same reason, the department of statistics no longer states the number of citizens in its population census.

    Until we have a Freedom of Information Act like India (yes, India), USA, UK, etc, access to such information will remain restricted.

  3. Having 1-2 million additional PRC Chinese by the immediate future as Citizens and PRs can spell trouble for Singapore in time to come. It can even be a danger to PAP itself. Firstly it will upset our neighbours as their influx can make Singapore even more Chinese that it already is as seen by other countries in particular Malaysia and Indonesia. In 10-20 years time they can form a significant percentage of the electorate to influence, initially, the direction of Singapore politics and its foreign policy and subsequently take over power to run Singapore like Hong Kong subservient to PRC. These people have their antennae pointed towards China and they can democratically contest elections and win power. If floating their own political party is not an option, they can always infiltrate the PAP and take it over. This is a scenario that should not be dismissed lightly. The much lesser but significant Indian influx, on the other hand, has no political impact, other than adding numbers to population statistics in the short term. By and large they are birds of passage, here in good times to seize the opportunity, to make money and buy HDB flats at citizen’s prize and enjoy the good life Singapore provides. When the time comes or things turn bad here, they will liquidate their assets for cash and go back to where they came from unless their children, used to the life here, resist re-location. Perhaps the acknowledgment of this mentality could be one reason why the Government gives citizenship and PRs to Indians liberally.

    The reality is that Singapore needs to boost its population significantly to cope with its fast expanding economy and the larger part of the influx perforce has to be mainland Chinese as they are the one group who are most attracted and feel comfortable coming here because it is largely Chinese-dominated and it makes their assimilation here easier. The Government may have little choice other than to tab this source. For local Singaporeans, the Chinese from Malaysia and Indonesia are clearly more acceptable than those from PRC as they more attuned to the language, culture and sensitivities of the indigenous population of the Malay Archipelago that surrounds us. But keeping the door wide open for them to settle here in thousands can have serious political implications and invite the wrath of the respective governments. I think our Government is wise enough to take cognizance of all these factors in planning a viable and prosperous future for the country and yet ensure that the ultimate political control shall always remain in the hands of indigenous Singaporeans.

  4. Fox – One of the TOC writers previously tried to pry these kind of figures out from ICA but was met with a brick wall. See Yes I think we need to work towards getting a FOIA.

    K Das – I share your concern. Already, I see PRCs serving in ‘sensitive’ military units where a certain other indigenous race is excluded. What does this say about how we value our homegrown citizens? And we witness how our ministers are ingratiating themselves to the Chinese (not sure whether local PRCs or the Chinese Communist Party). Perhaps they know better than you and me, that PRCs (or former PRCs) will make up a sizeable voting bloc for the PAP in the future, given their adulation of Lee Kuan Yew and everything he is associated with.

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