It is no secret that permanent residency is very popular because a lot of foreigners want to be a PR here. (If you want to become one too and need help, check out our services here.)
However, does our country have a welcoming culture when it comes to immigrants, and especially new ones?
This really largely depends on which group of people you talk to within Singapore, as well as where the immigrants have come from.
The following will not be politically correct as we will be sharing on the ground experiences as much as possible, and as accurately as possible, you have been warned.
Before the early 2000s, foreigners from every part of the world and every socio-economic class were welcomed into Singapore warmly. There was an extremely welcoming culture. (If you are wondering, our country has good law and order which is a big attraction point!) There was little to no negative sentiment at all because the country’s population was still relatively low, and despite the huge influx of immigrants and foreigners into our city, house prices were kept relatively steady still, and growth in new, attractive jobs for existing locals were good. This meant that almost all demographics of the locals had no complaints about any such growth or entry of migrants.
However, there seemed to be some kind of anti-foreigner sentiment in certain parts of our demographics by the mid 2000s, as job growth slowed, and locals had to start competing with the new migrants for the same jobs now. Additionally, house prices were starting to spike and really started to skyrocket.
This competition for jobs between new residents and existing ones reached a fierce level in 2007 and 2008. Additionally, house prices in Singapore were quickly getting extremely unaffordable for most, and clearly overpriced. This is because of many new PR buying up local real estate. There were lots of unhappy sentiments within our nation’s locals. To add onto that, the world experienced the 2008 global financial crisis.
As a result of immense pressure from the existing citizens and permanent residents, the government caved and greatly reduced the amount of new PRs given out yearly by approximately 50%. In other words, the approval criteria for PR application went up drastically. Additionally, the government also rapidly added in housing cooling measures over the next 5 to 7 years or so, in a bid to control the overpriced real estate prices.
During those years between late 2000s and early 2010s, it is true that there was some kind of strong anti foreigner sentiments back then. Because most of the prior influx of people were from China, there was some sort of sentiment against mainland Chinese. As the years went by though, the number or percentage of new permanent residents from China dropped, and this sentiment quickly went away.
In the mid 2010s, the full impact of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, also known as CECA, came into play. While it was signed years before that, it took time to show its impact. During those years, lots of Indian nationals flooded into Singapore. In fact, some said that the Changi Business Hub area has become a little India! Admittedly, there was negative feelings on the ground by locals against these new and huge influx, especially because the jobs that they took up was mostly well paying IT positions.
However, we strongly believe that most of these feelings are going away after the latest GE in 2020.
The government is constantly working towards successful social integration by foreigners, and we believe that they are relatively quick enough to respond to any such opinions. Therefore, as of the point of writing this article, we truly believe that our local culture is relatively welcoming to foreigners!