Eng Hen on economic growth and foreigner inflow

Public support is needed on the balance the Government should strike between economic growth and inflow of foreigners, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday.

The country should not pretend that balancing economic growth with foreigner inflow is easy, he said, adding that "the balance is based on what Singaporeans are willing to support, because if you tighten too much, your jobs are at risk".

Besides such a risk, "because you become less competitive in essential services...your quality of life will be affected", he said.

However, infrastructural stress resulting from a larger population will have to be adjusted as well, he said.

Dr Ng was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the annual Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Community Sports Festival, held at the Bishan Active Park.

He was joined by other Bishan-Toa Payoh grassroots advisers - Mrs Josephine Teo, Mr Wong Kan Seng and Mr Zainudin Nordin.

About 2,000 residents, the majority of whom were senior citizens, were at the festival and participated in activities such as a mass workout.

Dr Ng highlighted that such activities help to promote community bonding between people of different ages and races, as well as new and old citizens, by "breaking down barriers" and finding "common ground".

With regard to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's calls for new citizens to integrate into Singaporean society, Dr Ng said that Mr Lee's message is both an old and new one.

He said that it was old because Singapore has always had to integrate differences. But now, the message applies to new citizens as well.

He added: "Integration is a two-way street, it takes two hands to clap... So, if one side remains open and the other side takes the initiative, that would make integration much faster."

gerrardl@sph.com.sg


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