Singapore: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has urged citizens to be more tolerant of foreigners.
He said so after expressing concern over rising anti-foreigner sentiment that is hurting the city-state’s reputation globally.
“I think it’s fair enough to express concern, or to disagree with our immigration trends, or to oppose our immigration policies,” Lee said in his annual National Day Rally speech, acknowledging that the influx of foreigners in recent years has aggravated socio-economic problems in the tiny Southeast Asian island.
“But I am worried by some of the nasty views which are expressed, especially online, and especially anonymously,” the Wall Street Journal quoted Lee, as saying.
According to the report, Loong said that such outbursts by citizens against foreigners, on the Internet and in public, ‘reflect badly on us [and] damage our international reputation, people think that Singapore is anti-foreigner [and] xenophobic’.
Lonng’s comments come after Singapore’s Government in July announced new measures to control the inflow of foreigners.
According to the report, many native Singaporeans have said that foreign-born residents take jobs, push up property prices and add new strains on the city-state’s infrastructure, especially its crowded subways.
Government leaders have said that immigration helps Singapore sustain its economic growth and mitigate the impact of a low birthrate.
Singapore’s Parliament is also mulling changes to toughen its immigration law, the first major amendment since 2004, the report added.