Here’s some food for thought about immigrants. The world is getting mobile nowadays and the number of foreigners and immigrants that we see each day is increasing – pretty much like New York – a truely metropolitan city. How ready are Singaporeans to accept them as part and parcel of our lives – or are we just apathetic again?

Got a bus to catch… will think more about it later. =)

EVEN if just 30 to 40 per cent of new immigrants here do eventually make Singapore their permanent home, this will strengthen Singapore’s capabilities immensely.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew gave this upbeat assessment here on Tuesday, even as he acknowledges that some immigrants use Singapore as a ‘stepping stone’.

It is all part and parcel of the ‘mobile world for talented at the top? and the global race for them. We lose some but we’re gaining more,’ he said.

On the young and bright Chinese and Indians coming to Singapore, he said: ‘Some use us as a stepping stone, take courses at our university, then they go off to US, where the streets are paved of gold, and some don’t come back.’

‘But even if we have 30 to 40 per cent of them staying, we have reinforced our capabilities immensely.’

Mr Lee was responding to a conference participant who wanted to know how Singapore became a Top Ten country in the area of intellectual property and capital.

Foreign talent is key. Mr Lee cited how when Singapore established the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in 1987 with 200 people, just 20 were Singaporeans.

‘The rest of the 180 came from Britain, Sweden, US, Japan, all over the world.’

Speaking to the Singapore media, Mr Lee said: ‘Top talent is needed everywhere. The more top talent the country has, the more it will prosper.So the Americans have been attracting Europeans, Japanese, Chinese, Indians, Russians. We’re attracting a few but we are losing a few. So we’re competing against what others can offer.’

Article obtained from on 23rd January 2008 

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