Singapore has to “manage” its population carefully as it grapples with low fertility rate, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Saturday, welcoming 150 new citizens. The Prime Minister pointed out that with the country’s total fertility rate at about 1.3, Singaporeans are far from replacing themselves.
About 30,000 babies are born as citizens every year and, to top up, about 20,000 foreigners become new citizens annually. With about 50,000 new citizens every year, Singapore can “almost sustain a stable population”, he added. “We have to manage the inflow carefully, and make sure that the people who come can integrate into our society, make sure they have the abilities and skills to contribute to our economy, and make sure their hearts are in the right place and they will become good Singaporeans,” Lee said.
“We are a country, not simply a city or an economy,” he added after giving out citizenship certificates to immigrants who have settled in Singapore. “You have chosen to take up Singapore citizenship because you believe in Singapore and identify yourself with what Singapore stands for – a harmonious multi-racial, multi- religious country, a fair and just society where people have opportunities to succeed if they work hard, (and) a cohesive community where Singaporeans care for one another and help one another to succeed,” he said.
“Singapore congratulates you. We welcome you,” The Straits Times quoted the Prime Minister as saying. “I hope you will play your part, to continue to deepen your roots here, enrich our society with your experience and contributions and work with fellow citizens, old and new, to build a better future for all of us,” he added.
Singapore, a country completely built by the immigrants, has an estimated population of 5.6 million, of which 3.4 million are citizens, and the rest are permanent residents as well as professionals and blue collar workers.