The danger of anger turning into hate

“On the one hand, Chiang Nee’s piece is superficially positive, specifically with regard to integration of the races. But the reality remains that 36% of all residents in Singapore are foreigners. Even post-elections, the government has stated that a 2-Singaporean, 1-Foreigner workforce ratio is ideal, in view of business/economic necessity. What impact will this have on our social compact? Considered views please.” – Pritam Singh, MP for Aljunied GRC, on his Facebook wall.

Pritam was referring to this article by Seah Chiang Née: http://www.littlespeck.com/content/lifestyle/CTrendsLifestyle-110625.htm

I share his concerns about the impact on Singapore’s social compact by the government’s immigration policy.

In recent times especially, there have been several instances of foreigners in Singapore behaving in condescending fashion towards the locals. This has given rise to an increasing sense of anger among Singaporeans towards foreigners.

In the last few weeks alone, a number of foreigners too have been linked to violent crimes, the most notable of which is the suspected murder of a women in Woodsland who was found in a water tank. Just last week, the half-body of a Chinese national was found at Bedok reservoir.

The government seems to have kept silent on these incidents and this is a matter of concern. Keeping silent breeds contempt among Singaporeans who are worried about jobs (which the locals say is being taken from them by foreigners) and safety and security (from the seemingly increasing number of crimes committed by foreigners).

I urge the government to take these seriously and look into these.

Having said that, it is also important for Singaporeans not to lump all foreigners together and paint them all with the same broad brush. Sure, there are foreigners who aren’t civic minded, just as there are Singaporeans who are the same. We should not think that all foreigners are bad. And truth be told, we should not hate these foreigners for anyone would go where there are opportunities to make a better life for themselves and their families.

What we want to see changed, and what we and the government should be focused on, is the immigration policy.

As many have said so many times, the policy is faulty. It has resulted in one-third of our population being made up of foreigners.

This has led to consequences in all areas – housing, healthcare, education, public transport, cost of living, and so on.

But even if you are vehemently against the foreigners themselves, I urge you to distinguish those who left their home country, gave up their kin-ties to their homeland, and have settled here; and those who are here short term for economic purposes.

They are entirely two different groups of people.

The former are Singaporeans. They made a choice to stick it out with Singapore and we should welcome them. Yet, even the second group is not to blame, really. As I said, anyone in the world would go where better prospects take them – and this include the more than 200,000 Singaporeans working overseas at the moment.

We must guard against our anger turning into hate – and worse, acting on that sense of hatred.

We are not powerless. Instead of turning our anger on the foreigners themselves, we should engage – and even confront – our MPs and ministers and let them know that something needs to be done about the government’s immigration policy – and that this needs to be done sooner rather than later.

If not, I fear that the anger among Singaporeans will soon boil over into deep-seated resentment which will surely then lead to something more serious.

Government ministers and MPs must stop repeating its mantra of praising the presence of foreigners and acknowledge the concerns of Singaporeans.

And once this takes place, the government must address these concerns. And do so effectively.

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