Immigration Policies in South-East Asia
Oct 5, 2014 Other 1946 Views
Immigration has always posed a serious challenge for countries to deal with conflicts arising when infrastructure and facilities have to be shared between local residents ethnic to countries and immigrants from others who arrive to make a living.
Singapore has always had liberal policies concerning immigration; policies designed to support its growth and economy as an emerging power in South-East Asia and to offset its declining population and birth rate. In recent years, due to growing resentment against inflation, rising inequality and the strain exerted on infrastructure like accommodation and public spaces etc., the government has been forced to bring in new regulations to curb the flow of immigrants into Singapore.
Many thousands from other Asian as well as European countries choose Singapore as a destination to emigrate for many reasons; chief among them are 'because it a country extremely well run', 'personal hygiene and safety are of very high standards', and 'the economy is booming'.
An example can be taken out of Hong Kong where mainland Chinese who have lived for many years are unwilling to let more people in, because the country has virtually no space to create buildings for more residences. Cramped living quarters at exorbitant rates have forced some to move elsewhere while others holding good job positions or with young children going to local schools are forced to deal with expensive living.
Many new settlers, even the world's rich and famous who have moved here, feel that one of the reasons for Singapore's extraordinary growth and success as a nation has been its encouraging policies towards immigration, education and employment opportunities even for foreigners. Almost every second family is a first-generation or second-generation immigrant which has contributed to low unemployment rate and low taxes, thus impacting the economy positively.
It may speak well that Singapore ranks at the third richest country in the world which is in great measure due to the high per capita income of the country's work force, a large percentage of expats and immigrants, but it is not a success story all the way. Housing and real estate prices have gone through the roof and local wage earners have only seen marginal wage revisions. Added to this is the crucial issue of Singapore's demographics. With fertility and population rates at the lowest in the world, an ageing population and a fast diminishing workforce will soon bring in fresh problems unless immigration policies are relaxed.
Jim Rogers, a leading investment venture capitalist from the US who moved to Singapore with his family in the mid 2000s is quick to point out that if more qualified work force is not inducted into the country to meet the demands of industry, it may have to raise wages drastically which will give rise to inflation. Not only that; with no significant replacement to the current working population, which will grow old over the next 10-20 years, more resources will have to be spent to provide support and care for the elderly and the economy will not be able to sustain itself.
Going by geophysical and historical examples, every country in the world has at some point or the other, placed the root of their infrastructural problems with immigrants giving rise to inequality, suspicion and unrest which eventually leads to crumbling economies. If this continues, world economy may well go into decline.
Of all the countries in South-East Asia, Singapore is emerging as the hub of education with many international university campuses out of there. With excellent study opportunities, many qualified professionals are going to emerge in the next few years vying for jobs in all spheres. Already the expat community is a rapidly expanding one and they are extremely happy with the world class infrastructure and facilities that Singapore provides. The one downside here is that local domestic help is very hard to come by. Low-cost labor positions are filled by women from other Asian countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam through positions advertised by best maid agencies in Singapore.