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Dr Teck Khong: Building the British nationhood with honesty and openness.

Dr Teck Khong is a parliamentary candidate, a Leicester GP and forensic physician for Northamptonshire Police, and the founding chairman of the Leicestershire Health Consortium.

Malaysia is widely known for its verdant beauty and multi-racial harmony. But back in 1969, race and religious riots threatened to destroy that country. Its leaders had no choice but to acknowledge the underlying causes. They responded with a reaffirmation of secular government and Malaysia was transformed into an economic powerhouse.

The Malaysian experience offers some important lessons to us in our efforts to deal with social unease brought about by a rising tide of immigration, particularly illegal immigration and religious extremism. Laws on immigration are inadequate, and the processes for dealing with illegal immigration are hampered by a lack of both political commitment and consistent implementation. Tough decisions and actions are seriously overdue.

At the same time the monitor of social change – freedom of speech, a highly prized and democratic heritage – has fallen victim to political correctness. That is why concerns over immigration are expressed in two different ways – within the safe confines of private discussion and in public with words chosen for political safety. Such duality serves no purpose and achieves nothing apart from fomenting and escalating unrest.

The impact of immigration on matters such as policing, housing, employment, healthcare and education cannot be ignored. With thirty years of public professional service in various parts of the country, I can speak from first-hand experience about the burden of rising immigration and the growing undercurrent of hatred. Has the additional cost to the NHS been properly evaluated, from healthcare to interpretator services? What further tax increases are needed to extend essential infrastructures to cope with the influx? Can the country continue to deny indigenous people their housing needs, especially when they protest that their entitlement is usurped by aliens? Worse than these examples is the emotive issue of social integration.

An enlarging European Union and the globalisation of migratory pressures have displaced all loyalist security based upon simplistic classification of Commonwealth affiliation (or otherwise), and implied allegiance (or not) to the Crown and affection for the country of adoption. Indeed, past settlers from the British Commonwealth had such fine sentiments in healthy measures. For new arrivals, their quest for citizenship is based on expedience. More significantly, many immigrants nowadays come from politically dysfunctional countries, where social disorder is rife and where factionalism rather than nationalism is the norm.

To them, Britain is attractive with its stable environment, social provisions and opportunities for financial improvement. Many immigrants seek and obtain employment, but there are those who exploit and even abuse these social qualities which have been cultivated through many generations. Newcomers are increasingly viewed as competitors for our territory and assailants on the mainstream way of life. There is resentment of any charitable treatment, even for genuine refugees. The government policy for immigration is failing to ensure social stability, as such policies that exist are fragmented and necessary revisions are at best piecemeal and random. Assistance offered to immigrants is informal and focused on the maintenance of immigrant cultures and religions, with risk of segregationist drift.

There are now fears that this multicultural approach is engendering social disintegration and damaging the cultural heritage, political institutions and the legal system of Britain. Even crime rates are in danger of exacerbation by criminal activities amongst illegal immigrants, who must be deported.

Uncontrolled primary and secondary immigration is unsustainable. Preference to admit only those with specific skills that are in demand in a mature economy is a perfectly acceptable and sensible policy. Excessive influx of immigrants will also ultimately destabilise the social order, especially if admission is unstructured. Attempts at correcting recent misjudgments now rely on a haphazard definition of ‘Britishness’ and a vague requirement of new entrants to acknowledge it in the most rudimentary form of nationality test. This seriously sidesteps a deeper issue – that regardless of superficial appearances and liberalism, Britain is rooted in Christian values. The enunciation of these in public seems to incur hostility and demands for apology. Understandably, positive discrimination for its own sake is now derided outside of official circles.

Worldwide, a key criterion of citizenship is the ready acquiescence to the social order of the host country, So why should Britain be different, ransomed and disadvantaged? Indeed, any immigrant community that demonstrates its loyalty in a religion that is hostile to the host culture risks becoming a breeding ground for fundamentalism, the antithesis of peaceful co-existence.

In establishing the responsibilities of nationhood, we must reject racist bigotry. Isolation from the established society must be discouraged and the practice of religion subject to the secular rule of law. Social progress and harmony in Britain can only be achieved by paying attention to immigration and community relations. Finally, to inculcate civic pride and communal cohesion, the re-introduction of a national service, modernised and community-based, might just provide that catalyst for national solidarity we now appear to lack.


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