Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has expressed his worries of two new ‘societal trends’ among some ‘vocal’ Singaporeans: A ‘self-centred’ Not-In-My-Backyard syndrome and what appears to be a growing gap between Singaporeans and new immigrants.
Speaking to the Singapore media at the end of the 20th Asean Summit in Phnom Penh, he raised his concerns about these two trends which has led to an increasing outpouring of anger and frustration against the government in cyberspace.
“We must not go into a position where NIMBY (not in my backyard) becomes a general attitude among Singaporeans because then we will stymie ourselves. If we take this self-centred approach to problems, we will not be able to do the best for ourselves as a community.”
Instead of condemning NUS PRC scholar Sun Xu for making derogatory remarks about Singaporeans and reviewing the government’s pro-foreigner education policies, PM Lee felt Singaporeans should have accepted his apology and move on:
“”You look at the Sun Xu incident, he shouldn’t have made that blog post. He did. He has been chastised. He has been disciplined. He has expressed his contrition. He’s sorry about it. And I think we should accept that. We should have been able to move on from that and deal with it as one person who mis-spoke.”
He added that Singaporeans should not target other immigrants because of one person:
“We should not, because of one incident, make that into an issue, (to say) all immigrants are like that,” he said.
Despite the gravity of his offence, Sun Xu was only given a $3,000 fine and a 3-month community service obligation. Unlike two Singaporean students who were expelled immediately by their Junior College for kissing publicly, Sun Xu will be allowed to graduate from NUS next year.
The government introduced a $10-million dollar Community Integration Fund two years ago to help make the newcomers feel welcomed, accepted and happy in Singapore. Judging from the response of Singaporeans so far to the Sun Xu saga, there is still a long way more to go.
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