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Asian Ethnicity
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Integration policy in Singapore: a transnational inclusion approach


Md Mizanur Rahman & Tong Chee Kiong
a b a b

Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore

Version of record first published: 08 Aug 2012.

To cite this article: Md Mizanur Rahman & Tong Chee Kiong (2012): Integration policy in Singapore: a transnational inclusion approach, Asian Ethnicity, DOI:10.1080/14631369.2012.710403 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14631369.2012.710403

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Asian Ethnicity iFirst article 2012, 119

Integration policy in Singapore: a transnational inclusion approach


Md Mizanur Rahmana* and Tong Chee Kiongb
Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore; bDepartment of Sociology, National University of Singapore
a

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A number of models of integration have been developed to highlight the experiences of immigration and integration in the Western world. However, the existing models do not adequately capture the complexities of contemporary international immigration and integration, especially the integration process in the light of migrant transnationalism in Asia. This study examines the models of integration through a case study of Singapore. This paper introduces a new concept transnational inclusion to conceptualize Singapores initiative to embrace its transnational global Singaporeans as well as its transnational immigrants, estimated to make up one-fourth of the total population. The paper shows that a transnational inclusion model of integration can provide better insights into the dynamics of transnationalism and integration in todays complex migration scenario. We point to Singapores integration approach that regards integrating migrants into the dierent spheres of the society as a process rather than an end. Keywords: integration; transnational inclusion; Singapore; transnationalism; immigration

Introduction At the turn of the twenty-rst century, the forces of globalization and transnationalism have transformed many developed countries once known as immigrant countries into both immigrant and emigrant countries. Singapore, a country built on immigrants and blessed with stability, good governance and a vibrant economy, has also emerged as a country of immigration and emigration. According to Singapore Census of Population 2010,1 the total population of Singapore was around 5.08 million in June 2010: the number of non-residents (foreigners with a work permit, professional pass, dependent pass, student pass, long stay permit, etc.) was around 1.30 million, citizens, 3.23 million, and permanent residents, 0.541 million (Table 1). Singapore faces two troubling trends: a rapidly ageing population and an extremely low reproduction rate. Singapore also faces emigration of its nationals. The National Population Secretariat estimates that about 180,000 Singaporeans were living overseas.2 Singapore has adopted a three-pronged approach to boost the population: (1) encouraging couples to have more babies, (2)
*Corresponding author. Email: rm.mizanur@yahoo.com 1 Statistics Singapore, Singapore Census of Population, 2010, http://www.singstat.gov.sg/ pubn/census2010.html 2 National Population Secretariat, Singapore, 2009.
ISSN 1463-1369 print/ISSN 1469-2953 online 2012 Taylor & Francis http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14631369.2012.710403 http://www.tandfonline.com

M.M. Rahman and T.C. Kiong


Growth of residents and non-residents in Singapore 19802010. Total Population (000) 2,413.9 3,047.1 4,027.9 4,265.8 4,401.4 4,588.6 4,839.4 4,987.6 5,076.7 Singapore Citizens (000) 2,194.3 2,623.7 2985.9 3,081.0 3,107.9 3,133.8 3,164.4 3,200.7 3,230.7 Permanent Residents (000) 87.8 112.1 287.5 386.8 418.0 449.2 478.2 533.2 541.0 Non-residents (000) 131.8 311.3 754.5 797.9 875.5 1,005.5 1,196.7 1,253.7 1,305.0

Table 1. Year 1980 1990 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

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Source: Statistics Singapore, Census of Population, Singapore 2010, Advance Census Release.

opening the doors to immigrants and (3) wooing overseas Singaporeans home. Migration remains a key strategy to tackle the population challenge and ensure continued economic prosperity in Singapore. Traditionally, two dominant models of immigration temporary immigration and settler (permanent) immigration are used to explain the integration outcomes of immigration.3 On the above line, four main models of integration dierential exclusion, assimilation, pluralism and transstate spaces have been so far developed to explain the integration outcomes in the immigration process.4 However, traditional nation-state-society paradigm may now no longer be the appropriate one for mapping the evolving relationship of new immigrants and their host contexts,5 at a time when so-called globalization and new forms of migration and mobility are said to have generated all kinds of nation-state-transcending transnational actors and forms of organization.6 Thus, what is missing in the literature is an integration model that can explain the integration process in light of migrant transnationalism. While it is well recognized that transnationalism serves as an alternative analytic stance in international migration studies and the recent string of empirical studies have come to address dierent aspects of transnationalism in sending and receiving countries,7 transnationalism in relation to integration is hardly highlighted in the current literature. This paper attempts to contribute to this understudied area by highlighting the experiences of Singapore. The existing models of integration were mainly developed to explain immigration and integration situations in societies where multiculturalism was ocially recognized much later, often in response to managing diversity. Singapore, however, is unique in that it has espoused a multiculturalism policy since its independence. Hill and Lian argue that multiculturalism is one of the key reasons why Singapore is an
Castles, How Nation-States Respond. Faist, Amalgamating Newcomers; Bosswick and Heckmann, Integration of Migrants; Li, Destination Canada. 5 Favell, Integration and Nations. 6 Faist, Volume and Dynamics of International Migration and Transnational Social Spaces. 7 See, Basch, Schiller and Blanc-Szanton, Nations Unbound; Vertovec, Migrant Transnationalism; Zhou and Tseng, Regrounding the Ungrounded Empires; Levitt and Nyberg-Serensen, The Transnational Turn; Faist, Migrants as Transnational Development Agents.
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independent state today.8 In the particular case of Singapore, multiracialism can be seen as one of the Republics founding myths and as a central element in what Benjamin calls Singapores national culture.9 Singapore has launched outreach initiatives in which citizens and residents of Singapore overseas, that is, global Singaporeans or Singaporean (e)migrants are contacted and encouraged to maintain strong transnational ties with Singapore. In addition, transnational immigrants who are living and working in Singapore under dierent categories of passes including daily commuters from mainly Western Malaysia (employment pass or work permits discussed later) and permanent resident (PR) status are also allowed to maintain transnational ties between Singapore and their home countries for a much longer period. Envisioning the migration (emigration and immigration) as a transnational phenomenon rather than a oneo event at the top level of policy making has made the case of Singapore dierent from some classical immigrant countries. We refer to Singapores eort to integrate the transnational (im)migrants and (e)migrants into Singapore society as transnational inclusion. We suggest that Singapores transnational inclusion is dierent from the models followed by European states where integration is seen as a process commencing even before an individual emigrates from his/her country of origin to Europe. For example, the Netherlands is on the way to nalizing a bill that provides pre-arrival integration or integration of immigrants abroad.10 This is in fact an extension of the so called management approach of integration. Given the complexities of migration and integration in todays world, we feel that we should employ various concepts to make sense of migration and integration processes not only the conventional models (e.g. assimilation or cultural pluralism) but also competing explanations such as dierential exclusion, border-crossing transstate spaces and transnational inclusion. Only then will we be able to evaluate the relative merits of dierent conceptual approaches. The migration literature in Singapore is replete with explanations of low skilled and high skilled migration.11 Since the 1990s, there are studies on emigration orientation and emigration of Singaporeans.12 Besides, a variety of issues on international migration in Singapore, such as Chinese-Malaysian transmigration,13 the relationship between foreign manpower policy and population policy,14 transnationalism, multi-culturalism, national identity, nation-building and citizenship15 have also been investigated. Despite the abundance of research on the
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Hill and Lian, The Politics Of Nation Building And Citizenship in Singapore, 91. Benjamin, The Cultural Logic of Singapores Multiculturalism. 10 Carrera, A Typology of Dierent Integration Programmes, 5. 11 Yeoh and Khoo, Home, Work and Community; Pang, Absorbing Temporary Workers; Hui, Regionalization, Economic Restructuring and Labour Migration in Singapore; Low, People Movement; Lian and Rahman, International Labour Recruitment; Pattana, The Ghosts of Transnational Labour Migration. 12 Tan, Globalization, Nation-building and Emigration in Singapore; Tan and Chiew, Emigration Orientation and Propensity; Leong, Singapore Dream or Singaporean Dreaming?. 13 Lam and Yeoh, Negotiating Home; Lian, Migration and the Formation of Malaysia and Singapore; Lam, Yeoh, and Law, Sustaining Families Transnationally. 14 Wong, Transience and Settlement. 15 Yeoh and Kong, The Notion of Place; Yeoh, Bifurcated Labour; Chua, Multiculturalism in Singapore; Kong, Globalization and Singaporean Transmigration; Chiew, Ethnicity and

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dynamics of migration, generally speaking, the term integration is missing in the migration literature in Singapore. Little is known about Singapores immigration policy and subsequent integration policy to facilitate the smooth transition of immigrants into the major spheres of Singapore society (e.g. economy, housing, education, health, culture and politics). This paper broadly serves to address the gap in existing knowledge. Singapore does not ocially describe its policy as integration but the existing policies and programs targeting immigrants and global Singaporeans reect a wellcrafted integration policy. We use the term integration rather than other popular terms such as inclusion and participation because we believe that neither can match the technical social engineering quality of the term integration. The term integration invokes a broader vision of an ideal end-goal for society as a whole. The features of the policies that have drawn dierent categories of immigrants from around the world to choose Singapore as a place of work and settlement are complex and a multi-perspective analysis is required to enhance our understanding of the dynamics of integration. The next section discusses the theoretical issues related to integration, followed by a discussion on transnational inclusion. An explanation of dierent models of integration is presented in the next section under three subhead headings dierential exclusion, cultural pluralism, and transnational inclusion, followed by a concluding section. Conceptualizing models of integration Integration as a concept when dealing with immigrant settlement is relatively recent.16 Dierent terms such as inclusion, incorporation, and settlement have usually been used to describe certain aspects of the process of how immigrants become part of the societies. However, the advantage of integration, according to Baubo ck, is not only more readily acceptable by a wider public but is also more complex.17 Penninx suggests that integration is the process of becoming an accepted part of the society.18 His denition of integration opens up two critical points: rstly it emphasizes the process of integration rather than dening an end situation and secondly, it does not state the particular requirements for acceptance by the receiving society thereby leaving nal outcomes open. In todays world, especially in the multicultural setting such as Singapore, Penninxs approach to understanding integration makes more sense. To explain the complexities of the integration process, scholars have provided dierent dimensions of integration.19 At the most basic level, two dimensions of integration can be indentied: (1) the structural dimension that points to full participation in social institutions and (2) the cultural dimension that point at

National Integration; Elaine, Flexible Citizenship or Familial Ties That Bind?; Elaine, Constituting Citizenship. 16 Baubo ck, Farewell to Multiculturalism?; Bosswick and Heckmann, Integration of Migrants. 17 Baubo ck, Farewell to Multiculturalism?, 7. 18 Penninx, Integration of Migrants, 141. 19 Entzinger and Biezeveld, Benchmarking in Immigrant Integration; Bosswick and Heckmann, Integration of Migrants; Engbersen, Spheres of Integration; HomannNowotny, Migration.

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processes of value orientation and identication of immigrants.20 However, Godfried Engbersen oers a three-fold typology of social integration: the functional dimension, the moral dimension and the expressive dimension.21 To Engbersen, functional dimension involves the extent to which citizens are able to participate in the major institutions; the moral dimension involves the extent to which citizens are able to participate fully and equally in society without any risk to their physical and personal integrity; and the expressive dimension involves the extent to which citizens are able to develop their individual and shared identities. Bosswick and Heckmann oered a broader typology of integration: structural integration, cultural integration, interactive integration and identicational integration.22 Structural integration means the acquisition of rights and the access to position and status in core institutions (e.g. labor market, education, housing, health system); cultural integration means the acquisition of core competencies of the host society and culture (e.g. language, culture); interactive integration refers to the acceptance and inclusion of immigrants in the primary relationships and social networks (e.g. social networks, friendships, partnerships, marriages and membership in voluntary organizations); and nally, identicational integration refers to inclusion in a new society at the subjective level and is indicated by feelings of belonging to and identication with the host society.23 However, the denitions and typologies of integration developed so far are derived mostly from analyses of countries where immigration is a given phenomenon rather than a much sought after goal. These countries were forced to accept the reality of immigration because they were practicing liberal democracies that left few options open but to accept the reality of immigrant settlement. As a result, immigration settlement and the integration of immigrants were somewhat approached from the management perspective that is managing the given diversity. Dierent integration courses (e.g. language, familiarity with culture, social and political life of host societies) and integration laws targeting newly arrived immigrants have emerged to address the diversity. More importantly, mandatory participation in integration programs has become a constituent element of immigration and national citizenship legislation, as well as a precondition to having access to a secure status in EU countries. A nexus between immigration, integration and citizenship is becoming the norm in a majority of countries in the EU and classical immigrant countries.24 Countries which are blessed with pluralism since inception like Singapore are dierent in terms of approaches and philosophies.25 There have been attempts by scholars to do justice to the complex dynamics of immigrant integration and reconcile its dierent dimensions. Several models of integration broadly reect the policy aspects of integration.26 In the European context, Hollield provides three models of integration: the guest worker model,
20

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Gordon, Assimilation in American Life; Entzinger and Biezeveld, Benchmarking in Immigration Integration. 21 Engbersen, Spheres of Integration. 22 Bosswick and Heckmann, Integration of Migrants, 9. 23 Ibid. 24 Hage, Multiculturalism and White Paranoia; Li, Deconstructing Canadas Discourse. 25 Goh, From Colonial Pluralism to Postcolonial Multiculturalism. 26 Brubaker, The Return of Assilimation?; Entzinger, Dynamics of Integration Policies?; Bryant, Citizenship, National Identity and Accommodation of Dierence; Zolberg, Modes of Incorporation.

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assimilation model and ethnic minorities model.27 Carrera distinguishes among three main national models of integration in Europe: multicultural model, assimilationist model and the separation or exclusionist model.28 However, considering the complexities of immigration and integration in the contemporary world, Castles provides a typology of integration.29 He observes two main patterns of immigration: settler pattern and temporary pattern.30 Firstly, the settler pattern, in which immigrants gradually integrate into economic and social relations, and secondly, the temporary pattern, in which migrant workers stay in the host country for a limited period and maintain their aliation with their country of origin. Drawing these broad patterns of immigration, Castles suggests three main models of immigrant integration in host societies: dierential exclusion; assimilation and multiculturalism.31 However, all these models of integration described above are conned to the boundary of nation-states. They cannot describe and explain immigrant integration that takes place on foreign soil. To include the growing transnational communities across border-lands, Thomas Faist32 introduces a model of transborder/transstate spaces in his study on Polish immigrants in Germany. He identies several integration outcomes in the borderlands. In the economic area, he reports crossnational ows of labor and entrepreneurs; in the political area, cross-border membership e.g. overlapping and nested citizenship; and nally in the cultural area, border-crossing syncretism, that is, diusion of culture and emergence of new types of plural identities. In essence, integration in transstate means that immigrants maintain social and symbolic ties to both countries of origin as well as settlement. Faists initiatives are laudable in this case because he conceives integration going beyond the container space of nation states. However, this model is not relevant to the Singapore case because of the absence of thick transstate spaces. Transnational inclusion as a model of integration While most migration and settlement experiences still t into one of the four models described above (and often into a mixture of them), increasingly important groups such as transnational emigrants and transnational immigrants (transnational migrants) do not. Castles argues that changes brought by globalization are undermining all the modes of controlling dierence premised on territoriality.33 These changes have led to debates on the signicance of transnationalism as new modes of migrant belonging. Transnational migrants are groups whose identity is not primarily based on attachment to a specic territory. They therefore present a powerful challenge to traditional ideas of integration. Castles observes that transnational migration is proliferating rapidly at present and predicts that transnational aliations and consciousness will become the predominant form of migrant belonging in the future. What is the challenge for nation-states is to integrate the rising number of transnational migrants.
27 28

Hollield, Immigration and Integration in Western Europe. Carrera, A Typology of Dierent integration programmes in the EU, 2. 29 Castles, Migration and Community Formation. 30 Ibid., 1143. 31 Ibid. 32 Faist, Amalgamating Newcomers. 33 Castles, Migration and Community Formation.

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Emigration from a wealthy immigrant country is not always a settlement migration because the traditional motivations for emigration (e.g. economic and social reasons) are not strong here; it is often a transnational migration an outcome of globalization in which people are just attracted to move beyond their natural country of birth for some specic period of time or for some specic reasons but there is extensive back-and-forth movement. For instance, migration from Hong Kong to Canada in late 1990s during the time of handover of administration to Peoples Republic of China, has, over time, resulted in return migration or transnational sojourn.34 In the Singapore case, it seems that the propensity for relocation remains attractive for several reasons; one is Singapores success as a regional hub of telecommunication, media, transport, trade and commerce. Now, residents overseas do not feel away from home; they are today more well connected than ever before. We do not identify the phenomenon of emigration as well as immigration in relation to the permanent and temporary models of (im-or e)migration because they do not t into them. The right term for this phenomenon seems to be transnationalism and the concept transnational inclusion as it envisions the integration of transnational emigrants or transnational immigrants as a process of forming a harmonious and stronger Singapore. It does not necessarily suggest memberships to other countries as a cutting point of relationships; thus it recognizes multiple memberships although multiple citizenships have yet to be recognized. We conceive the transnational inclusion model of integration in a broader sense and maintain that integration does not involve only immigrants in the containers of nation states, but also individual emigrants/immigrants leaving for another country, although the policies and outcomes of such integration may dier across time and space. Although in the integration literature incorporation is widely used,35 we prefer a softer term like inclusion which means being with or welcome. Singapores initiative to embrace its members overseas is referred to as transnational inclusion. We envisage inclusion as involvement. We think that a transnational view of integration provides the most convincing starting point for dealing with the dilemmas arising from the clashes between immigration and emigration for the same country. We apply three basic analytical approaches of immigrant integration to the Singapore case: dierential exclusion, multiculturalism, and transnational inclusion (Table 2). Each model of integration has special merits for certain groups of migrants and thus a country may have dierent models at the same time targeting dierent groups of immigrants/emigrants. It is our view that a multi-perspective analysis using dierent models is required to make sense of the integration processes and experiences of individual countries. We do not highlight assimilation model in our study because Singapore as a multicultural society does not promote assimilation, but expects that new immigrants would integrate into dierent communities. As Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew asserted:
it was not the governments policy to assimilate but to integrate our dierent communities that is, to build up common attributes, such as one common working

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Ley and Kobayashi, Back to Hong Kong. Schiller et al., Pathways of Migrant Incorporation in Germany; Portes and Bo ro cz, Contemporary Immigration.

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Table 2. Pluralism Multiculturalism, pragmatism and meritocracy a formula which has informed and guided the government ever since it became independent in 1965 Transnational Inclusion

Models of integration in Singapore.

Spheres of Integration

Dierential Exclusion

Sphere of Policy

M.M. Rahman and T.C. Kiong

Sphere of Economy

Classed-based policy for temporary migration of labor: Foreign Professionals and Foreign Workers. Educational qualications, working experiences and salary are major determinants of entry. However, cultural compatibility is considered in the admission of foreign workers. They are considered economic migrants; they are found almost all sectors of economy. They are oered benets and privileges on the basis of their skills, economic contribution and salary structure.

No restriction on exit or emigration: Residents (PRs and Citizens) are allowed to leave and stay overseas. Individuals can retain PR or citizenship status or cancel it. Government is designing new packages and programs to retain stronger relations with Singaporeans overseas There is no need to contribute to Central Provident Fund when one (PR or Citizen) live and work overseas.

Sphere of Housing

Foreign workers are provided housing by the employers and they are usually accommodated at the worksites and dormitories. Foreign domestic workers who work as live-in maids stay at employers houses. Foreign professionals are allowed to rent house and they can buy private property from the market. Some foreign professionals also get housing or housing benets from their employers.

One of the founding myths of the Republic of Singapore is meritocracy. Meritocracy is pursued to facilitate social mobility. Ethnic niches and enclaves exist but they are not mainstay of the ethnic communities. They are regarded as cultural sites. Ethnic integration policy (EIP) in housing is strictly maintained in the public housing. There is specic ethnic quota for housing and it ensures integration of various ethnic groups by housing dierent races in the same block of HDB ats. This ethnic integration policy in terms of housing prevents immigrant residential concentration found in many developed countries.

Singaporeans can hold their HDB or private ats when they are overseas. As HDB ats are heavily subsidized, owners are HDB ats are liable to follow certain rules and regulations. HDB ats can be rented out with permission from the relevant authority. However, private property owners do not need any permission.

(continued)

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Table 2. Pluralism Transnational Inclusion

(Continued).

Spheres of Integration

Dierential Exclusion

Sphere of Education

As long as Singaporeans overseas maintain memberships (citizenships or permanent resident status) they are entitled to apply for all educational facilities (e.g. education loan, scholarships home and overseas scholarships-, overseas education loan) like other Singaporeans in home and abroad.

Sphere of Culture

Foreign workers are required to understand basic instruction at worksites which is often in English or other three main languages (Chinese, Malay or Tamil). Skill promotion tests are conducted in English or other main languages frequently spoken at the worksites. Domestic workers are also required to have certain level of formal education back home and basic English competency. Dependents of EP pass-holders (children) can go for education but they need to pay higher fees than locals. Medium of education is English. Scholarships or fellowships are granted on merit basis. Qualied foreigners are entitled to apply for educational loans for education. Cultural compatibility is considered in certain sectors; Foreign workers and foreign professionals are allowed to maintain and celebrate their cultural festivals (religious or ethnic)

Bilingualism; On coming into power in 1959, the PAP introduced integrated schools with English as the lingua franca, while continuing to support the policy of a second language. Ocial languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Bilingual education system (English and Mother Tongue) for example, English-Mandarin for Ethnic Chinese, English-Tamil for Indians, and English-Malay for Malays. The bilingual policy comes from the belief that in this age of globalization, individuals need to understand the world, be procient in foreign languages and have knowledge of other cultures. The bilingual education system connects one another in the society regardless of their place of birth. Encouragement of maintenance of each ethnic culture (CMIO model). The fact that dierent ethnic groups in Singapore have maintained their traditions and culture is an assent in attracting other Asians to the Island.

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(continued)

Overseas Singaporeans are encouraged to attend their own ethnic cultural events back home with other family or kinship groups. They are also encouraged to join in national events at Singapores foreign missions overseas

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Table 2. Pluralism

(Continued). Transnational Inclusion

Spheres of Integration

Dierential Exclusion

M.M. Rahman and T.C. Kiong

Sphere of Religion

Non-residents Singaporeans enjoy freedom to observe religious rituals. Even, low skilled migrant workers enjoy privileges of using worksites for religious practices (e.g. prayers for Muslims).

Sphere of Politics

Involvement in politics is not accepted

Each community enjoys full religious freedom. Respect for each others religion is encouraged and maintained strictly. Visiting of each others religious festivals is a common phenomenon in Singapore. Permanent residents do not enjoy voting rights. Involvement of minorities in politics is encouraged and ensured through GRC scheme

Global Singaporeans tend to celebrate religious festivals with their community members overseas. Many global Singaporeans also return home to celebrate religious festivals with their family members in Singapore As long as they do not relinquish citizenship, they are entitled to political involvement.

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language, same loyalties, similar values and attitudes, so as to make the dierent communities a more cohesive nation.36

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All three models of integration cumulatively promote a better understanding of the most important aspects of the integration of migrants into Singapore society. To explain the three models of integration, we use the concept spheres of integration a notion inspired by Michael Walzer Spheres of Justice.37 We illustrate these three models of integration in relation to the major spheres of integration economy, housing, education, culture, religion, and politics in the subsequent sections. Table 2 presents a summary of the major spheres of integration of these three models. Models of integration in Singapore Dierential exclusion In the dierential exclusion model, migrants are integrated temporarily into certain areas of society (mainly the labor market) but excluded from others such as welfare systems, political participation and national culture.38 The main principle of the model is that immigration should not bring about signicant changes in the receiving society. Guest worker programs introduced after the Second World War in Western Europe and current temporary migrant worker programs in the Middle East and East and Southeast Asia are some classic examples of the dierential exclusion model. Singapores foreign manpower program ts into this model. This manpower policy distinguishes two groups of foreigners: foreign workers and foreign professionals. According to Ministry of Manpower, Singapore, as at December 2009, there were about 856,000 work permit holders in Singapore and of these, 196,000 were maids.39 As in October 2008, 143,000 foreigners were working in Singapore on an employment pass.40 Growth of non-resident population is presented in Table 1. Foreign workers are oered work permits, which are called the R pass. It is further divided into two sub-categories: R1 for semi-skilled workers and R2 for unskilled workers. Domestic workers also fall into the category of work permit holders and they are oered the R2 pass. Educational qualication, working experience and salary determine who falls in which pass group. The governments policy on low-skilled workers is comparatively restrictive and has remained committed to ensuring that low-skilled foreign manpower is managed as a temporary and controlled phenomenon.41 In other words, the low-skilled foreign workers are relegated to the most transient of categories subject to the use and discard philosophy.42 They (both male workers and female domestic workers) are neither allowed to bring their family members nor permitted to marry locals. However, there are provisions for family visits at regular intervals.

36 37

Ang and Stratton, The Singapore Way of Multiculturalism, 79. Walzer, Spheres of Justice. 38 Castles, International Migration. 39 The Straits Times, Singapore, February 23, 2010, p. A4. 40 The Straits Times, Singapore, October 23, 2008. 41 Yeoh, Migration, International Labour and Multicultural Policies, 19. 42 Yeoh, Huang, and Willis, Global Cities, 151.

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Foreign professionals are oered an Employment Pass (EP), which is further divided into three main types: Class P, Class Q, and S Pass. Singapore has an open door policy for skilled and professional foreign manpower.43 Employment Pass-holders are allowed to marry locals or bring their immediate dependents to Singapore. Singapores immigration policy towards professionals is liberal and the Singapore government has maintained strongly that having an open immigration policy helps to ll critical sectors in the economy, especially in the nance, technology and creative industries. Having more foreigners in Singapore helps to make Singapore a more vibrant and cosmopolitan polity. The employment pass holders are encouraged to apply to be permanent residents. In fact, they are the primary source of permanent residents and future citizens in Singapore. However, some new immigrants use Singapore as a stepping stone. For example, Minister Mentor Lee commented that if only 30 per cent to 40 per cent of new immigrants eventually make Singapore their permanent home, they will strengthen Singapores capabilities immensely. He sees the phenomenon as a part and parcel of the mobile world for the talented at the top and the global race for them we lose some but we are gaining more.44 Singapores foreign worker and immigration policy are dictated by the economic imperative. Thus, while Singapore maintains restrictive policies for foreign workers, the policy towards foreign professionals is liberal and they are encouraged to sink roots in Singapore society by taking permanent residency and citizenship. Given the size of employment passholders, which was around 143,000 in 2008, Singapore is in a favorable position to choose from a large pool of migrants with desirable professional and ethnic backgrounds. For instance, in 2009, 132,200 applications were submitted for permanent residency in Singapore but 59,500 applications were nally successful.45 Many of the successful applicants were family members of new permanent residents as well as dependents of Singapore citizens. Growth of permanent residents since 1980 is presented in Table 1. Cultural pluralism In a general sense, pluralism implies that immigrants should be given equal rights in all spheres of society, without being expected to give up their own cultural heritage but to conform to key values of society. Castles points to two main variants in pluralism: the laissez-faire approach and explicit multi-cultural polices.46 In the laissez-faire approach, the state tolerates dierences but does not see it as the states role to support the maintenance of ethnic cultures (e.g. the USA). In the explicit multi-cultural policies, the state encourages cultural dierences and changes social behavior and institutional structures accordingly. Canada and Australia stand out among countries of immigration in making multiculturalism a specic policy goal. However, in both countries, the turn toward multiculturalism was a response to the perceived failure of previous assimilation policies.47 Singapore has espoused multiculturalism since its inception as an independent nation-state in 1965. The
43 44

Rahman, Management of Foreign Manpower. How Spore fares in foreign talent search, The Straits Times (Singapore), January 24, 2008. 45 The Straits Times (Singapore), September 17, 2010, p.1. 46 Castles How Nation-States Respond, 298307. 47 Hill and Lian, Politics of Nation Building.

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main tenets of the ruling party philosophy are multiracialism, meritocracy, and multilingualism, and they have informed and guided the government ever since its independence. Multiracialism (or eectively multiculturalism) is seen as the practice of cultural tolerance towards various communities, acceptance of dierences in religious practices, customs and traditions of the dierent communities and according each community equality before the law and equal opportunity for advancement.48 Singapore continues the colonial practices of ascriptive ethnicity, that is, every Singaporean is also classied as Chinese, Malay, Indian or others (CMIO Model). This comes with the practice of a hyphenated identity (national-ethnic). Hill and Lian argue that meritocracy is appropriate to multiracialism since it facilitates social mobility by dint of hard work and gives no special advantage to any single ethnic community. Singapore has always placed paramount importance to economic achievements and the government plans to make Singaporeans as rich as Americans by the year 2030.49 Although there are three major ethnic enclaves, namely Little India, China Town and Malay Village, they are not at all the mainstay of economic life; they are much more sites of cultural heritage. Because of class-based immigration policy, new immigrants are absorbed into the formal economy. The practice of multilingualism in Singapore, while formally recognizing Malay, Chinese, and Tamil as ocial languages, nevertheless accords English the status of lingua franca. The practice of bilingual education requires that all students learn English as well as their mother tongue which, for practical purposes, is their second language. Children of immigrants whose mother tongues are dierent from the above are eligible to take up their own mother tongues. The philosophy behind the policy of mother tongue is also the belief that language is the carrier of tradition and culture and the prociency in the mother tongue will help to maintain traditional Asian values. Integration of dierent ethnic groups and new immigrants are also reected in housing, culture, religion, and politics.50 One of the most remarkable achievements in terms of successful integration of dierent ethnic communities and new immigrants can be found in public housing policies.51 Home ownership is encouraged through aordable provisions as a means of giving citizens and new immigrants, according to Hill and Lian, a stake in their country and reducing the sense of transiency characteristic of a substantially migrant population.52 During the 1970s, housing policy became a more rened adjunct of social engineering with the prevention of ethnic concentration through a quota policy within housing state. The ethnic integration policy (EIP) is to promote racial integration and harmony and to prevent the formation of racial enclaves, by ensuring a balanced ethnic mix among the various ethnic communities living in public housing estates. The ethnic integration policy is applicable to the purchase of new ats, resale ats, SERS (selective en-block redevelopment scheme) replacement ats and DBSS ats (design, build and sell scheme) as well as the allocation of rental ats in all HDB estates.
48 49

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Chan and Evers, Nation-building and National Identity, 308309. Hill and Lian, The Politics of Nation Building, 31. 50 Chih, The Politics of Ethnic Integration in Singapore. 51 Loo, Yu, and Han, Public Housing and Ethnic Integration in Singapore. 52 Hill and Lian, The Politics of Nation Building, 6.

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The religious institutions (e.g. mosques, churches, temples) are also conveniently located in the public housing estates. This is especially true for Muslims who are required to perform religious practices in mosques on a regular basis. In the spheres of politics, involvement of minorities in national politics is encouraged and ensured through the GRC scheme (Group Representation Constituency). The GRC scheme is designed to ensure minority representation in parliament. The government maintains that Singapore is committed and has a desire to protect the interests of the ethnic minorities, in order to be consistent with its promotion of multi-ethnicity as being the national interest. All these policies involving economy, housing, education, culture, religion, and politics have provided a fertile ground for new immigrants and their ospring to adjust and grow up with the desired economic and cultural skills to live in a multicultural setting. Transnational inclusion While national integration models such as dierential exclusion, assimilation, and multiculturalism or so called transstate spaces see communities who are living within the container of nation states or cross-border spaces, our proposed model of transnational inclusion includes both transnational emigrants and immigrants, leaving for and living in other countries. As we have discussed in the preceding sections, Singapores policy toward the foreign human resources is clear and pragmatic. Singapore invites all classes of foreign human resources from low skilled migrant workers to highly skilled professionals to work and live in the island state. This non-resident migrant population is oered specic benets and privileges depending on their skills and professional qualications and is allowed to remain transient as long as they are required by the economy. Depending on their skills, education, and ability to contribute to the national economy, non-resident foreigners are encouraged to be permanent residents. The permanent residents are oered special privileges and benets that are often higher than non-residents, e.g. occupational mobility, ownership of property, health care facilities, educational opportunity and nancial services. The shift of status from permanent resident to citizen is voluntary. As a result, many permanent residents who are living and working in Singapore choose to remain permanent residents for decades. Due to the increasing emigration trend, Singapore has devised proactive policies and programs to connect to its population overseas. In doing so, Singapore has set up the Overseas Singapore Unit (OSU) under the PMO (Prime Minister Oce) to attract global Singaporeans. The Overseas Singapore Unit is playing a key role in facilitating stay overseas and connecting global Singaporeans into Singapore society. Key initiatives to engage overseas Singaporeans include platforms such as the Overseas Singaporean Portal (www.overseassingaporan.sg) and overseas Singaporean clubs, as well as outreach events such as Singapore Day and the Distinguished Business Leaders Series. In tandem with the states commitment to serve Singaporeans overseas better, it has introduced various policies and programs in the major spheres of life including exit policies. Singapore imposes no restriction on exit or emigration. Singapore citizens and permanent residents are allowed to leave the country with or without cancelation of memberships (citizenships or permanent resident status) in Singapore. If one cancels the membership in Singapore, he or she is also allowed to withdraw CPF (Central Provident Fund) contribution. If one retains his or her membership in

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Singapore, he or she is not required to contribute to Central Provident Fund when living and working overseas. Emigrants can hold and rent their subsidized ats (HDB) when they live overseas. Children of citizens and immigrants are eligible to enjoy educational loans, scholarships and other education related facilities at home and abroad, given that they have retained memberships with Singapore (e.g. citizenships, permanent resident status). Overseas Singaporeans are encouraged to attend their ethnic cultural events back home with their family members or kinship groups. Ocials from Singapores foreign missions also visit cultural events organized by Singaporeans overseas in major cities of the world. Singaporean students overseas are especially contacted time to time by Contact Singapore, an alliance of the Singapore Economic Development Board and Ministry of Manpower which aims to attract global talent to work, invest and live in Singapore. It has oces in Australia, North America, UK and Europe, India, China and Southeast Asia. It is thus clear that Singapore pursues a proactive outreach programme to tap the Singaporeans overseas including students and foreign professionals, and its transparent immigration policy allows a section of immigrants to remain mobile and transnational and they both contribute to the transnational inclusion of emigrants and immigrants. Singapore has eectively pursued the transnational inclusion model to meet the challenges of globalization and transnationalism in the last few decades. However, like other integration models the transnational inclusion model also does have some drawbacks that a small country like Singapore cannot aord to overlook. The model oers excessive leeway to new immigrants to remain transnational for indenite period and to accumulate wealth for the country of origin or choice. This is also true for those emigrants who leave to nd comfort overseas and tend to settle overseas permanently. Thus, a country attracting foreign talents from all over the world loses home-grown talents to the outside world as well. To encourage new immigrants to stay and settle in Singapore permanently, Singapore has recently introduced some economic measures that widen the economic advantages (e.g. school fees, health care and public housing)53 between citizens and non-citizens, especially permanent residents and professional pass-holders who are eligible to become citizens and permanent residents respectively. Conclusion Immigration is often conceptualized in terms of two dominant modes: temporary and settlement immigration. This traditional conception of immigration seems to have an inuence also on the development of models of integration. So far, the integration of immigrants into the core of a receiving country has been explained by four models of integration, that is, dierential exclusion, assimilation, pluralism and transstate spaces. While most immigration and settlement experiences t into one of these models (and often into a combination of them), increasingly important groups such as transnational emigrants and immigrants do not. This is because these models of integration were developed much earlier than the discovery of transnationalism as a powerful analytical tool for international migration studies. Identifying the gap
53

For details see government website, immigration and checkpoint authority, http:// www.ica.gov.sg/data/resources/docs/BenetsPrivilegesRightsObligations_20080429.pdf (accessed September 2010).

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in current literature, we have proposed a new model of integration namely transnational inclusion to explain the integration process in the context of increasing transnationalism. We have applied the term to explain the case of Singapore as it is simultaneously an immigrant and emigrant country. We have pointed out that Singapore has devised a transnational inclusion policy, due to its immigration legacy, by allowing its huge immigrant and emigrant population to remain transnational. What is interesting about Singapore is that it rightly realizes that integrating migrants into the dierent spheres of the society is a process rather than an end. Singapores transnational inclusion strategy is in sharp contrast with the existing models of integration presently followed by many classical immigrant countries as well as European countries which has often been criticized for mandatory programs and strict measures of naturalization. While it is apparent that empirical data on both immigrants and emigrants would have made our case stronger, we emphasize the merit of this paper in the conceptual contribution. We believe that the need for a new concept in integration in the present context of immigration and transnationalism, especially in Asia, is adequately justied and the transnational inclusion as a model of integration captures some of the challenges posed by the current pace of immigration and transnationalism. Acknowledgements
We sincerely thank the two anonymous references of Asian Ethnicity for their encouraging comments and useful suggestions on the earlier version of this article.

Notes on contributors
Md Mizanur Rahman is a Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore. His research interests include gender and migration, migration and development, remittances, and migrant businesses. His work has appeared in leading international journals such as International Migration, Population, Space and Place, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, and Journal of International Migration and Integration. Authors postal address: Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, #07-01 Tower Block, 469A Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 259770 Tong Chee Kiong is Professor of Sociology at the National University of Singapore. He is also the Special Academic Advisor and Professor at Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Chee Kiongs research interests focus on the Chinese in Southeast Asia, religion and religious change and Asian Business Networks. His recent publications include Chinese Death Rituals (Routledge, 2004), Rationalizing Religion: Religious Conversion, Revivalism, and Competition in Singapore (Brill, 2007), and Identity and Ethnic Relations in Southeast Asia: Racializing Chineseness (Springer, 2010). Chee Kiong has also published papers in the British Journal of Sociology, International Migration Review, Diaspora, Child Abuse and Neglect, International Sociology, and Journal of Asian Business. Authors postal address: Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, Singapore-117570.

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