MM Lee says S’poreans must reach out to new immigrants

By Cheryl Lim/Teoh Song Keng, Channel NewsAsia

Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has said it is important for Singaporeans to reach out to new immigrants and help them integrate into Singapore society.

Although inter-mixing is a two-way process, he stressed that Singaporeans must extend an open arm to new immigrants to help them be a part of Singapore.

Speaking at a seminar organised by Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao on Sunday, Mr Lee said a country can progress only if its people are united as one.

One 92-year-old man, who emigrated to Singapore from Malaysia six years ago, said living in Singapore has given him a greater sense of security.

Other new immigrants from the Chinese cities of Fujian, Shanghai, Wuhan and Sichuan said they have received fair treatment in Singapore.

One person said: "After living in many countries like the US, Indonesia and Europe for the past 18 years, I feel that Singapore is really a good place. I am very thankful."

Another commented: "I want to thank the Singapore Government for developing my son into an excellent person."

Speaking at the "Making Singapore Home" seminar, Minister Mentor Lee said inter-mixing new immigrants with Singaporeans is important and both sides should make the effort.

He said: "I think families should begin to adopt new families coming here. Invite them to your homes, have food, have tea, take them out to places they have never been to in Singapore, and you make friends. In that way, you make their entry to our society easier and more comfortable."

He told new immigrants their children must study hard for better prospects, and that mastering English is an essential step towards achieving success in Singapore. Only then will they be able to compete on an equal footing.

Mr Lee said: "If you want to succeed in Singapore, you must have a good grasp of English. English is a common language to communicate with people from different places and races."

Mr Lee also felt that new immigrants who have a high standard of spoken Mandarin can help improve Singapore's Chinese standards.

He said: "I have asked MediaCorp's Channel 8 and U to consider employing new immigrants who speak standard Mandarin as their news presenters."

The seminar was attended by some 450 participants.