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Diasporas Define Singapore's Cultural, Economic Character (and threaten it's national sovreignty)

Singapore is profoundly shaped by both the Singaporean diaspora around the world, and the many diasporic communities from other countries that settle in Singapore.

According to Noviscape, July 2011, the government has recognized the power of the Singaporean diaspora and is attempting to leverage it.

"Up to 1 million Singaporeans (25% of the population) live overseas. The Singapore government has launched an ambitious program to coax senior-level overseas Singaporeans, especially those working in strategic areas of business and research, to return to contribute at home, through providing long-term opportunities and incentives for them to use their technological or management competencies to drive economic growth back home. Returnees are valued for their much sought-after entrepreneurial and management experience and access to global networks."

Singapore is also uniquely rich with diasporic populations from other countries. Noviscape asserts that "ethnic Chinese [make up] 75% of its population" and there are "vibrant, structured communities from countries ranging from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines to the Indian sub-continent."

The power of the Chinese diaspora in Singapore and elsewhere is such that it warrants its own signal culled from this same article in this newsletter.

The newsletter attributes this to many factors, including a government strategy "to recruit high-caliber 'foreign talent' in designated strategic specializations vital to technological advancement and economic development."

Noviscape also alludes to "efforts to plug human resource shortages in the IT sector through fast-track immigration of ‘cherry-picked’ talented individuals, particularly from Malaysia, China and India" and "a constantly changing influx of large numbers of short-term, unskilled and semi-skilled labor, imported from neighboring countries to satisfy Singapore’s continuing economic boom." Though the newsletter doesn't say specifically who is pulling these immigrants in, it can be assumed it is private companies.

Implications from Noviscape:

Noviscape characterizes the social influence of diasporas as "extending access to human resources, knowledge, technologies, and markets, and increasingly, in shaping an emerging multicultural identity for the host country."

It also suggests that these diasporas help their home countries, "Singapore’s other major ethnic diasporas may well exert an uplifting effect in their home countries not just via monthly remittances, but also in terms of exposure to new cultural norms and economic opportunity."

Though Noviscape asserts diasporas provide many benefits to the nation of Singapore, it also suggests that diasporas can undermine the very concept of nations.

"Increasing globalization is reconstituting the economic landscape, and erodes the concept of sovereignty as an economic and political entity, and countries / national governments have diminishing control over actual practice, at least in the area of trade, compared to a highly globalized corporate sector."

"Support for the concept of ‘nation state’ is steadily declining. Even in Singapore, murmurs of political discontent are emerging from the middle classes- unthinkable just a few years ago."

Implications from IFTF:

- diasporas are certainly important to look at, this article doesn't go into much detail on how the diasporas in Singapore are unique or different from other diasporas, except that it notes that Singapore is more diverse, and that is has a huge ethnic Chinese population.

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Noviscape_July2011 page 5, 6, 7: