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Singapore has come a long way from the racial riots in 1964 and 1969.
I believe the government’s ethnic quota ratio in HDB estates has been instrumental to the racially tolerant and harmonious society we have today. As we live in the same HDB blocks with various races, we learn to understand and respect each other’s race and religion.
Today, we have more new citizens and PRs from different countries. I notice there is a high concentration of people from the same country staying in the same private condos. They mingle among themselves and the place has become a "home away from home". This runs against our government’s policy to encourage them to integrate and bond with others.
Having large pockets of residents of a particular culture, race or nationality can also be risky. I fear that a “time bomb” leading to racial riots in the future is in the making. Hence, I am appealing to the government to consider introducing an 'ethnic quota ratio' for private condos.
It is also important to have a rigorous process to screen foreigners before deciding whether to offer them PR or citizenship.
-- PR must be granted to eligible foreigners as a family unit. PR should be granted selectively only to those who are genuinely keen to become Singapore citizens. To better assess each candidate’s motivation for applying for PR, I suggest that PR applicants be required to attend an interview with a panel. The panel could highlight the importance of integrating with the locals as well as key national policies such compulsory national service for Singapore male citizens.
-- When the PR applies for a PR extension or citizenship, I suggest that he attends another interview with a panel. PR extension or Singapore citizenship should be granted only if there is evidence that the PR had made efforts to integrate with the locals. Specifically, the PR should have sent his or her children to local schools. The panel could also consider if the PR had been involved in community projects that benefit Singaporeans.
Tan Teck Kwong, 72, retiree