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ALBERT NG YA KEN

Strive for 'integration of hearts'

We have approached integration thus far with multi-racialism, where no race or culture is coerced into conforming with other identities.

But now, we have a new kind of integration to tackle - that of foreign-born citizens and residents into the Singaporean core ("S'pore must manage inflow of new immigrants carefully: PM", The Straits Times, May 28).

Immigrants understand less of our history. Their perception of and reaction to some issues and policies may not be the same as that of locals.

If we factor in the element of loyalty, the gap between the locally-born group and the foreign-born group could become an obstacle to national unity in the long term.

With an annual intake of around 20,000, new citizens could make up at least one-third of our resident population in future.

When we consider our declining birth rate and ageing population, new citizens and, to a certain extent, permanent residents, would become the "make or break" factor in upholding the systems that make Singapore great.

Integrating new arrivals into the Singaporean core requires concerted effort.

Citizens, the Government and social organisations should take a more proactive approach to draw them to interact with us and contribute to society.

More importantly, we must strive for a higher level of integration, one beyond just working and living in harmony.

We should aim to achieve "integration of the hearts" - where all citizens, new or old, regardless of the differences in views, would be loyal to Singapore.

ImmigrationRace & Religionageing