What I would however like to make a brief statement on, is the seemingly unusual language that is being used by Workers Party member and MP for Aljunied GRC, Sylvia Lim, when debating the paper in parliament.
Specifically, I would like to suggest that she, her speech writers and/or her PR team seriously consider the impact of her words.
The following extract is from Sylvia Lim's speech on the White Paper:
"Madam Speaker, instant citizens can be Singaporean in name and have all citizenship rights, but for the Singapore core to be strong, the core must be strongly Singaporean in values, worldview, culture, sense of place and history, and network of friends and family. This can only be cultivated over time, in institutional settings such as schooling, national service and community service. A strong Singaporean core should be made up of Singaporeans who grow up in and with Singapore."
Firstly, coining the phrase 'instant citizens' as opposed to 'new citizens' could actually be considered quite demeaning to those committed to Singapore, who have often moved halfway across the globe, renounced their country and birth-right and have gone through the required due diligence and process required to pledge allegiance to their new home (in many cases, having lived here for the lion-share of their lives). 'Instant'? - I think not.
If, and when, we decide to personally apply for citizenship of this wonderful country we call home, personal sacrifices would need to be made, my current citizenship and any allegiances would need to be denounced... this, along with the many years of dedicated community service and integration efforts already undertaken, would not be an 'instant' decision, nor if we were honoured enough to have the citizenship application approved, would it in any way be 'instantaneous'.
If history shows us anything, it is that providing 'labels' that potentially attempt to incite divide (in this case between 'true blue' Singaporeans and
On another related note, when I asked the question, "If an
This is quite interesting - I remember back to an integration workshop I attended a few years ago, where over half of the 300 attendees were citizens, the moderator asked everybody to stand. He then asked all those not born in SG to sit down - a lot of the crowd obliged. He then asked for anyone with at least one parent who was not born in SG to sit down - around 25% of the audience remained standing. Finally, he asked for anyone with at least one Grandparent not born in SG to sit down... one sole individual remained standing out of the entire room... the moderator then asked the 'rhetorical' question - 'What makes me a true blue Singaporean?... how many generations does it take?'.
So I pose the same 'rhetorical' question to Sylvia Lim (no need to answer) - how many generations does it take for children or grandchildren of
Anyway, don't get me wrong, I sincerely wish Sylvia Lim all the best in her efforts in parliament. I strongly believe that having the ability to bring different viewpoints to debates such as this one on the population white paper is extremely constructive and can only bring about good things for any democratic country.