SINGAPORE: Singaporeans should not create the image that immigrants are not welcomed in the country.
Speaking at a gathering for new residents in Marine Parade on Saturday, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong also urged new Singaporeans and permanent residents to play their part to make their community a better place to live in.
Residents are showing the way of how people in the community can bond. They also play games to break the ice and tear down barriers.
Within the neighbourhood, the list of activities that bring people is growing.
Among the many activities available at the Marine Parade Community Club to help integrate new Singapore citizens and permanent residents is an international cooking class. It's called the colourful chefs of Marine Parade where a group of citizens from Marine Parade have gotten together to share their cooking cultures with one another.
Senior Minister Goh said these programmes have one objective.
He said: "Whether a place is a nice place to live in or not depends on the people. And it depends on how we put in the effort to know one another and make this into a homely place."
This process has to be two-way and the onus is also on new immigrants and permanent residents to share and give.
Mr Goh said: "If they come into Singapore and convey the impression that they are a community apart, they are not part of us and they are here just to take from Singapore and not give back, then sooner or later, the pressure on them will be great. In other words, Singaporeans will say why take them in, they are not contributing."
The advice to immigrants and new citizens - move fast.
SM Goh added: "The immigrants who come in must very quickly absorb the norms and values of Singaporeans. Learn to speak English if you can't speak. You have to communicate and service Singaporeans to reach out to Singaporeans. As you become part of us, the next generation, your children, they will now study in our schools and will be very much like any other Singaporean."
This readiness to integrate was very much alive in 70 new residents and their families who were at the gathering to get to know their grassroots leaders and neighbours better.
Tun Zow Myint, New Singapore citizen from Myanmar, said: "My parents knew that Singapore is a very safe place for us to move around and very close to home as well. The education system is one of the top class in the world. That's why we stick around in Singapore and bring them up here in Singapore as well."
Mr Goh added that Singapore has to tackle the challenge of a declining population by topping up with immigrants.
But it can be selective and ensure that those who came in contributed more.
Mr Goh stressed that Singapore is not alone in attracting foreign talent to sink their roots in the country.
New Zealand has a project to attract Singaporeans to work study and live there.
Currently, some 4,500 Singaporeans had applied for different visas to the country, while statistics from Australia's Immigration Department showed that the country's now home to some 50,000 Singaporeans. - CNA/vm