Excerpt from Ag Minister Tan Chuan-Jin’ speech :
My colleagues from the Workers’ Party define this Singaporean Core with a very catchy, Singaporean Singapore slogan. It is meaningful, but the sub-text is actually very important. Ms Sylvia Lim stated that “A strong Singaporean core should be made up of Singaporeans who grew up in and with Singapore. Therefore, the policy of topping up shortfalls in our total fertility rate with younger immigrants to make up the Singaporean core is flawed.”
They talk of dilution of our citizen numbers – home-born Singaporeans, when they noted that some of these are not from the original Singapore-born Singaporeans. This is one way of looking at it and resonates with some Singaporeans. I am not sure how far back should we go before Singaporeans count? Some of us here are not born in Singapore. Ms Irene Ng is not born in Singapore. Mr Chen Show Mao is not born in Singapore. Does it make them second-class citizens?
We have many Singaporeans who are not born here. They may not have grown here, but they have decided to make this place home, and serve and contribute to this society. Should this be what defines us as Singaporeans? And this is an important question. Are these values we as Singaporeans subscribe to?
I do not subscribe to these values and outlook to what it means to be a Singaporean. I believe we Singaporeans are an open hearted and kind people. We are generous, we are warm and we embrace those that are around us. Those who leave here, leave as friends and will look out for us because they remember the friendships forged. Some will choose to live here because they see that this is something they want to be part of.
As leaders, we cannot be just echo chambers. We lead and set the tone and inspire ourselves and our people to be Singaporeans with a heart. When you ask who do we defend? I defend my family who remain here. I defend my loved ones and friends. And all Singaporeans who are here. Does the percentage make a difference to my duties and responsibilities as a citizen? Our people remain the same.
Speech by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower and Senior Minister of State for National Development at the Parliamentary Debate on Population White Paper, 07 February 2013, 5:00 PM, Parliament House ”
Restoring Hope and Heart, Building a Home for the Singaporean Core