Involve foreigners in Total Defence

Involve foreigners in Total Defence

THERE is a need to beef up our anti-riot force and adopt other proposals made by the Committee of Inquiry into the Little India riot, to prevent similar incidents from happening ("MHA to beef up police anti-riot force"; Tuesday).

We need to visualise and anticipate possible scenarios wherein multiple trouble-generating factors could congregate at the "wrong" place and at the "wrong" time.

Yet, incessantly increasing the size of our police and anti-riot forces may not be the answer in the long term. As more foreigners take up residency here, we need to include them in our Total Defence.

We must convince ourselves and them that they are also stakeholders in our peace, prosperity and social harmony.

If Singaporeans and those who are foreign-born share this vision, we could work out roles for every foreigner willing to play a part in our Total Defence.

We could invite those with leadership and supervisory qualities to join specially designed programmes that contribute to our social defence and civil defence.

Employers who send their foreign staff to join these programmes could be monetarily compensated or obtain additional foreign worker permits if warranted.

We could also reward good, capable and long-serving foreign participants in our Total Defence programmes with permanent residency or even citizenship down the road.

An immigrant society, whether it is Singapore or the United States, needs to constantly review the scope and coverage of its inclusiveness in order to enjoy peace and harmony in the long term.

Ng Ya Ken

This article was first published on July 12, 2014.
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