Some thoughts on the latest Pro-Singaporeans measure

Askmelah’s Note: I am sure most Singaporeans will welcome the latest announcement (see below) by MOE to give priority to Singaporeans in P1 registration balloting, I am not too sure if we are getting right for its implication and impact in the longer term. Let me explain:

  • Will we inadvertably forcing more Malaysian Chineses who are traditionally our biggest source of immigrants from putting their roots here? If I were them, I will feel that more and more “previleges” have been taken away from them, making them feel unwelcome.
  • On the other hands, the many other “new citizens” from non traditional sources, such as China, India, Myanmar, Vietnam etc who are culturally very different but are now legitimately “Singaporeans”, have an edge over our Malaysian PRs, how will they feel?
  • Askmelah’s controversial suggestion is if MOE wants to be more pro-Singaporeans while not causing too much damage, the announced policy should benefit those old and new citizens whose kids are born here by birth. That will eliminate many newly converted New Citizens especially many who took advantage of the laxed and unpopular immigration policy by the LHL’s Government in the last few years. This approach will prevent “shortcut” and reduce greatly (I hope) the strained on the Malaysian PRs in terms of losing out on their Child’s education. Malaysian PRs place great importance on their Children’s education, it is not somthing that the Government should not overlook.

Related links:

MOE: S’poreans to get absolute priority in Pri 1 registration balloting
Source: Todayonline Mar 26, 2012
A major annual school exercise that often gets some Singaporean parents anxious will be tweaked this year to give them greater assurance of their children’s admission into schools of their choice.The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced yesterday that there will be increased differentiation between citizens and permanent residents (PRs) for the Primary 1 registration.

While PRs will remain eligible for the same phases as citizens in the registration exercise, Singaporean children will be given absolute priority over PRs in those phases where balloting is necessary.

This means that priority will be given even before home-to-school distance is considered.

If the number of applicants in a registration phase does not exceed the number of vacancies, all applicants will be admitted.

When applications exceed vacancies, Singaporeans who live within 1 km of the primary school will be given priority for admission via ballot, followed by those who live between 1 and 2 km away and then to those who live further away.

Once citizen applicants have been admitted, the same process of home-to-school distance balloting will apply to PRs.

Non-resident students will remain eligible for registration after Singaporeans and PRs are placed, at the third phase of the exercise.

In its press release, the MOE said: “By giving Singaporeans priority over PRs only when balloting is required, the MOE will retain the underlying principles of the Pri 1 registration framework, which reflect a careful balance of considerations, and provide for diversity in our schools, while according citizens a further privilege.”

Since 2010, Singaporean children had been given two ballot slips compared to one for a PR registrant during balloting.

Ms Audra Chow, a parent of three primary school children, supported the revised measures as she felt that citizenship – just like a membership – should have its privileges,

She added that while PRs may have some privileges, giving them the same privileges as citizens would not incentivise them to seek citizenship.

A PR parent of two students at Temasek Primary School whom Today spoke to said that although she was uncomfortable with the revision, the measures were “not surprising” and “understandable”.

Government Parliamentary Committee (Education) chairman and Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan, who asked earlier this month in Parliament for the MOE to reconsider the Pri 1 registration framework, said he was glad that MOE will give priority to Singaporeans.

“I think it signals that Singaporeans do matter” and “it is an important signal”, said Mr Lim, who noted that Singaporean parents do feel frustrated when they lose out to PRs in placing their children in preferred schools during balloting phases.

While PRs would “not be happy” about the MOE’s decision, he said: “I suppose you can’t help it. In most countries where you’re not a citizen, you expect that priority is given to the citizen of that country.”

Primary school principals whom Today spoke to were unanimously supportive of the revised Pri 1 registration process.

Anglo-Chinese Primary School principal Richard Lim, who said it was “a very good move”, also thinks that “there shouldn’t be too much of an impact”, as parents are now better educated and would check school vacancies before registering their child for Pri 1.

Yew Tee Primary School principal Janis Lee said that the composition of PRs in her school “varies from year to year” and that whether there would be a significant impact would depend on the cohort for the particular year.

Her school does not see a very large number of PRs on a yearly basis, she added.

Similarly, White Sands Primary School principal Daphne Leong said the move marked an improvement to the registration exercise.

“The previous arrangement, where Singapore applicants get two balloting slips while PRs get one, I think still did not make a very pronounced difference,” she said.

While Mdm Leong felt that the new measures could alter the composition of a school’s student population at the Pri 1 level as more Singaporeans get admitted first, she noted that PRs could join a school at other primary school levels, if there are vacancies.

PRs would also now be spread out to other schools in the neighbourhoods, rather than being concentrated in certain popular schools, she added.