Singapore's founding prime minister defends skilled immigration

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On 22 July 2011, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister after the end of British Rule, defended the ruling People's Action Party's stance on encouraging skilled immigration to spur the city-state's economy.

During a South Asian Diaspora Convention, Lee said that foreigners who come to Singapore do so to become citizens; He went onto say that he was a "firm believer that the more talent you have in a society, the better the society will grow."

Lee has had a long history in Singapore politics. He served as prime minister from 1959 to 1990. He has been an important figure in Singapore's political scene for over fifty years.

"It is because we enjoy talent from across the globe — South Asia, Northeast Asia, China, India and beyond — that we have a vibrant economy," Lee said.

Singapore has transformed itself over the years into a financial powerhouse of Southeast Asia. Much of Singapore's economic progress has been attributed to Lee's policies during the city-state's formation.

However, many citizens feel that skilled migrants are putting pressure on available jobs.

"You got to accept the discomfort which the local citizens feel when they are competing unequally for jobs. But without [foreigners], the jobs will not be there to begin with," Lee said.

"So, we welcome talent, and will continue to welcome talent," he added.