The lingering question over the government’s embrace of new citizens

Lack of transparency and availability of data has long fuelled speculation on competition for jobs by new citizens.

There is also a persistent, niggling question over this issue: How significant are the electoral votes of new citizens to the ruling People’s Action Party government?

We know for a fact that in recent years, Singapore welcomes an average of just over 22,000 new citizens a year. Latest available figures show that there were 22,102 new citizens in 2016, 22,076 in 2017 and 22,550 in 2018.

Going by those numbers, we would have had around 110,000 new citizens in the past five years. How important a voting bloc were they in GE2020?

Conventional wisdom tells us that new citizens are predisposed to voting for the political party in power. It’s also common sense – gratitude is naturally bestowed to the party that accords the citizenship.

However, not much data is available for any concrete analysis. The government does not provide a breakdown on the new citizens’ country of origin or birth. Perhaps the opposition Members of Parliament could pile on the pressure for the government to provide such data. Or it is considered one of those state secrets?

Earlier this year, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo who oversees the National Population and Talent Division said that the government takes in a “carefully controlled number of new citizens each year to keep the citizen population stable over the long term.”

She also gave this assurance: “It is not easy to become a new citizen or PR. Many applications are rejected. We have high expectations of those who join our community.”

More data would be helpful for the Minister to make her case.

Two weeks ago, for example, the Ministry of Trade and Industry shot down speculation that under CECA, Indian nationals are given “automatic access” to citizenship and permanent residence.

But there were no accompanying details on how many who came to Singapore under CECA have applied for citizenship in recent years, and how many have been accorded citizenship.

This would have provided more clarity to put the issue to bed. This would also have addressed speculation that new citizens played a key role in the PAP winning East Coast GRC, where the margin of victory was only 7,781 votes.

The fact remains that the country currently takes in just over 22,000 new citizens a year. With at least 110,000 new citizens every five years, they could be a force to be reckoned with at the ballot box.

Granted that not every new citizen is eligible to vote and not every vote goes to the PAP. But the question of how significant their electoral votes are to the PAP is a lingering one.


Augustine Low




17 Responses to “The lingering question over the government’s embrace of new citizens”

  • stop lying jteo:

    She also gave this assurance: “It is not easy to become a new citizen or PR. Many applications are rejected. We have high expectations of those who join our community.”

    JTeo seems to think trublu sgs walk around with eyes n ears shut.
    we can prove her above statement incorrect.
    how many times have we encountered Prs or ‘adopted aliens aka new citizens’
    who can only be described as rejects or their own country…yet …
    our sg gov welcomes them for selfish reasons or whatever unknown reason..
    how can it be for SG’s good..?
    many years ago, yes the foreign talents working here we just that..

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  • really?:

    haha high expectations???
    i really laughed out loud!

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  • Harder Truths:

    The government intentionally creates a problem and then solves it with FT.

    The ‘two is enough’ policy (circa. 1972 – 1987) made sure $G citizens lost a good part of the needed population. The old dead despot did this to intentionally bring in foreign workers, pretending this was not his idea. He had utter contempt for locals – anyone who was around during this time knows what I mean.

    His plan was to get the bestest and brightest foreign talent from all over the world to make his Fantasy Island idea come true. it did not matter to him what happened to us. His belief was we should all fight for survival with the foreigners and the strongest will win and that is good for the island.

    This belief and policy are still the foundations of the current government. What we actually have are third world rejects that are strong to take away jobs and create their own cesspits, but destroy anything of real value that was built up over the years by the locals that they are enjoying now.

    $G has become another war zone where locals are fighting for survival. Ultimately the locals WILL lose.

    The old dead despot was right – cancer is always stronger but it will finally kill the host.

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  • Billy ma:

    It be may a fact that PAP had barrels of worms.
    So to ask for PAP & lhl to be transparent would be impossible.

    It would be a tsunami with waves up to 100m.
    Too dangerous to see & will kill & hurt many “great people who have contributed a lot to society”.

    It’s too late & too much for PAP to be opened.

    In fact, it might be the golden arrow that kills the bird.

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  • Halimah Totally USELESS:

    Start with the way the PAPIGS dish out PRs to all these imported Trash.
    Just what shit “talent” do these Trash have that out world class Uni grads do not have.
    We have these CERCA fakes getting PRs and then showing their sense of entitlement and arrogant atas attitude, same with those Pinoys.

    How many of these trash eventually got their citizenship ???

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  • Realist:

    Realistically speaking, new citizens are a political tool to get votes! That’s the PAP way, dirty and deplorable.

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  • Brian:

    The votes of new citizens are a sure thing — a banker — for the PAP. 100,000 votes translates to 4%, without new citizens, they would have won only 57% not 61% in GE2020. They would have lost East Coast GRC — there are tens of thousands of Indian new citizens in the GRC. West Coast GRC also has plenty of Malaysian, Indian and Chinese new citizens, maybe the PAP could have lost too.

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  • opposition dude:

    “How significant are the electoral votes of new citizens to the ruling People’s Action Party government?”

    Well, looking at the results of the GE. Not as much as we thought. There are a few reasons why this might be so.

    - PAP is bullshitting on the number of citizenships offered. It could be significantly below the reported 22k per year number. After all there is no one who can verify if what ICA says is true

    - A significant number of new citizens may have given up citizenship. As usual we are not given any data on this but since these new citizens never grew up here and do not have their roots here as well it should come as no surprise if a significant number gave up citizenship

    - More new citizens than expected voted for the opposition because they have also lost their jobs so gratitude goes out the window. If gratitude is the only key deciding factor for new citizens then they would always be voting PAP irregardless of whether there is a current crisis or not

    So goondu Loong’s opportunistic plan backfired this time as not only did he not get his strong mandate he lost more seats to WP and a vote share drop. Let us all see just how much unhappiness there is in the next GE and if PAP’s vote share continues to plummet.

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  • Baba Siâu:

    These new citizens could also form their own party to oust the ‘natives’.

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  • Samuel S:

    The matter on new citizens will not rest until PAP is reduced to minority. I think PAP wins is because of the new citizenship granted as they feel obliged to support their master.

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  • I say pretty significant!:

    Augustine asked: “How significant are the electoral votes of new citizens to the ruling People’s Action Party government?”

    I say pretty significant. Hypothetically,if a GRC or single constituency is won or lost by 10,000 votes the inflow of 110,000 new citizens can swing the results of 11 GRCs or Single constituency! This can be achieved with skillful gerrymandering! Add to this “pork-barrelling” especially among the older generations and the Opposition will have to fight an uphill battle at every GE!

    You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that anyone who comes to work in Singapore will graduate from a employment pass holder to PR and ultimately to citizenship. Of course, if the foreigner has the required skills and deemed an asset to Singapore, please do not tell me that the person will not be offered citizenship.

    Our politicians think they can spin a convincing story by using selective words and phrases. They can fool many sheepish Singaporeans but certainly not the 40% thinking Singaporeans!

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  • New citizens are NOT talent:

    New citizens are NOT talent because they are STUPID. Why? Because most of them vote for PAP failing to realize that after they become citizens they are in the “same boat” as “old” citizens (..e., true blue Singaporeans) . They can also lose their job to “cheap” (no CPF) foreigners.

    What new citizens should do is to ALWAYS go along with “old” Singaporeans. They cannot lose. They owe PAP nothing because they did not get a “free-ride” to become Singaporeans.

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  • NotMyProblem:

    @Augustine; in United Nation population estimate in 2018, 40% of Singapore population was made up of immigrants.

    All new citizens are of voting age.

    Note not all the 60% true blue Singaporeans are eligible to vote. There are also some Singaporeans need this PAP for oxygen. Potentially there are only 54% to 55% true blue Singaporeans could vote PAP out.

    It is impossible to vote out the PAP, new citizens always out vote true blue citizens!! That’s why PAP was never worry!!

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  • who believes them anymore:

    to josephine teo & co..
    stop with all your crap.
    we were not born yesterday!

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  • xoxo:

    oh,ok,if the govt is chasing after FRESH TALENTS to inject into our population,it is inderstandable.
    BUT,majority are half-baked???
    Replacing REAL LOCAL TALENTS WITH FAKE foreign Talents is simply D A F T!!!

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  • Do to others you will be done:

    How about our homegrown half-baked “CEOs (or is it party guys)” for whom compassion is not sheeples’ monopoly? Can we have a dozen import FTs from India and China who are the real thingy to replace them please?

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  • Covid 19 test:

    Is COVid 19 free for all, Singaporeans or only foreigners, papist registered members, papplp n nepotists only? Today ST reported thatcovid19 tests for 980 food delivery n hawer stall workers? Why not for all including restaurants n all sirt of food handlers? Why voluntary? R the test free for the 980 or charged to pay ministers hefty salary increases n inhumanly high bonus like 25 millions for a fake evidences accusing family n get away scotfree with visibe 25 millions n what lie in opajcity.

    This is the mentality of your fanastic pap! You die more money n more alien import, ha ha ha. You talk pofma kills you. R there more judges like zchan n Michael Khoo, a separation of decades, r singaporeans professionals become easily available prostitutes. Even prostitutes have more dignity n integrity.

    digusting. Pap tell singaporeans to quit their homeland if u dare! Say it or else kamakazi for your crimes!

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