Photo credits: Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth
A strong and cohesive Singapore society is one that also embraces diversity. Singapore has a rich history of welcoming people of different cultures and backgrounds; and many Singaporeans can trace their ancestry beyond the country’s shores.
The coexistence and intermixing of cultures continue today. In 2019, about 1 in 5 citizen marriages were inter-ethnic1 (Chart 6), and more than 1 in 3 citizen marriages involved transnational2 couples (Chart 7).
Chart 6 - Inter-ethnic marriages as a proportion of citizen marriages, 2009 - 2019
Chart 7 - Transnational marriages as a proportion of citizen marriages, 2009 - 2019
In Singapore, the number of immigrants is carefully managed. Between 2015 and 2019, an average of 22,100 new Singapore citizenships (SC) and 31,700 Permanent Residencies (PR) were granted each year. The total size of the PR population has remained stable at around half a million.
The number of citizenships granted also includes those for children born overseas to Singaporean parents. These children made up about 1,600 of the new citizenships granted each year.
The exact number of new SC/ PRs granted each year depends on several factors, including the number and quality of applications received, and our changing needs.
Every application for SC/ PR is evaluated holistically to assess the applicant’s ability to integrate in and contribute to Singapore, and their commitment to sinking roots here. Various markers of integration are considered, such as applicants’ family ties to Singaporeans, length of residency here, and whether they have studied in Singapore schools or completed National Service. Other factors considered include the applicant’s economic contributions, qualifications and age.
New citizens must make the effort to fit in. To help them along, the National Integration Council (NIC) supports initiatives such as the Singapore Citizenship Journey (SCJ), a collaboration between the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), the People’s Association (PA) and the Immigrations & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). All naturalised citizens go through the SCJ to understand Singapore’s history, norms and values, and in the process build stronger ties with the community. Singaporeans were invited to join the Citizen’s Workgroup for SCJ to explore, discuss and create content that is being used to update the SCJ.
When everyone from all parts of our society gets involved, that is when integration will be most effective, sustainable and rewarding for Singapore.
1 Inter-ethnic marriages refer to marriages between persons of different races
2 Transnational marriages refer to marriages involving one citizen and one non-citizen (i.e. permanent resident or non-resident)