From Indians to Chinese, Singapore feels the strain of immigration

Tensions in Singapore’s carefully managed multiculturalism:
When a Singaporean man was caught on camera in October yelling vulgarities at a security guard outside his apartment building, telling the hapless worker he had paid S$1.5 million (US$1.1 million) for the place and should not have to fork out extra for guest parking, the video of the exchange soon went viral.

Singaporeans on social media quickly identified the man, assumed he was an Indian expatriate, and told him to “go home” and not bring his country’s caste system to the city state.

Internet users also soon latched on to the topic of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), a free-trade deal signed in 2005 between India and Singapore. They claimed the deal gave Indian nationals a free pass to work in the Lion City, as online vigilantes doxxed the man and called on his employer to axe him, claiming his qualifications had been falsified.

Days after the video went viral, hundreds of demonstrators turned up at a rally protesting against CECA and Singapore’s population growth. This public anger was reminiscent of that seen in 2013 when the government issued a projection that Singapore’s population could hit 6.9 million by 2030. The number currently stands at 5.7 million, roughly 1.7 million of whom are foreigners.

Over the past month, the authorities have attempted to quell the disquiet by making multiple clarifications about the case. The man, Ramesh Erramalli, was born in India but is a naturalised Singaporean with a Singaporean wife. His education certificates were real, CECA did not make it easy for Indians to gain entry to the country for work, nor would any free-trade agreement, the government said.

The display of xenophobia is not new to Singapore. “Foreigners” – from mainland Chinese to Filipinos – have been blamed for a range of problems, including overcrowding on public transport and unemployment.

Source: From Indians to Chinese, Singapore feels the strain of immigration

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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