Amid widespread fury from Singaporeans after the release of the government's population white paper, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean stood up again Monday to publicly endorse it in Parliament.
Speaking to Members of the House on Monday, Teo said that he understood the concerns Singaporeans had over an increase in the migrant population and fears of "Singaporeans feeling like strangers" in their own country.
He went on to emphasise the importance of integration.
"Most of these migrants come from similar ethnic backgrounds. They will adapt to our lives, become more like us over time," said Teo as he sought to assuage a wave of negativity about Singapore's projected population of 6.9 million by 2030, of which little more than half would be Singaporean.
Speaking specifically on the issue of an increase in the number of foreigners with work passes, the deputy prime minister said that these migrant workers would be here to support, rather than join the population.
"Let us be clear. These foreigners with work passes are here to support Singaporeans' needs in the areas of healthcare, domestic workers and supporting our ageing population and families."
The jobs these work pass holders would be doing, he said were "jobs and services Singaporeans need but do not want to do ourselves."
Teo also said that criteria for the awarding of these passes would be made more stringent in terms of salary requirements.
"Work pass holders are only here during their productive years. They help boost the ratio of working people to retirees but do not add to the retiree population. With them, the dependency ratio will fall," he argued.
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