Sunday, October 07, 2012

This must be my hate speech

If xenophobia is the word for the hatred of foreigners, what is the equivalent word for the hatred of original citizens?

Yes, I must be a snob.

I simply cannot suppress my increasing disgust at the bulk of foreign nationals, especially those coming from an ancient civilization from the north of Asia who exhibit poor personal hygiene such as trimming nails, spitting, littering, urinating in the public and even lower civic-mindedness than our peoples in terms of giving up seats on public transport, giving priority to alighting passengers on trains, standing on the left on escalators..... well, every ugly social behaviour exhibited by our own peoples that were denounced as ungracious by our own politicians and people in the past decades are now exhibited by foreign nationals. And in greater scale. The overwhelming presence of foreign nationals presented new forms of undesirable social behaviour and thus “contributed” more vibrancy to our island-nation.

I realize the likes of Baey Kim Yam and Sim Ann would chastise me for not reflecting on my own disgust or for making hate speech or being xenophobia on our foreign nationals even though my own observations conclude a higher proportion of poor behaviour and ungraciousness manifested by our darling foreign nationals than locals. And because it is a personal observation, I understand its validity and factual value are deemed inferior to official statistics/surveys despite the latter are often being skewed conveniently to prove a point and therefore diminishing the value of truth much more than individuals’ observations. 

I heeded Mr Baey’s advice and reflected dutifully to avoid being accused of being divisive and precisely I did reflect that I eventually refuse to hide my appalling disgust at some foreign nationals. Reflection is futile, I do realize that. For what underscores Mr Baey’s advice of self-reflection is not about self reflection itself but a plot to restrain citizens from painting the foreign nationals in bad colours even if those were their genuine colours. These days, the word “foreigner” has become a forbidden word for citizens like me. Negative comments are immediately framed as a xenophobic gesture. Ugly Singaporeans is not an unspoken secret and I hate our ugly behaviour as well. Contrary to Mr Baey’s advice, Singaporeans have explicitly reprimanded ourselves on our poor hygiene (think of our toilets and flushing of toilets) and severe lack of civi-mindedness. Politicians even went further to introduce a series of hard and soft approaches in the forms of fines, corrective work and courtesy campaigns over the last two decades in cultivating a more gracious society. It was then. We were lectured in the 80s and 90s by our politicians about our ungraciousness, therefore the urge of a gracious society helmed by then PM Goh Chok Tong. Politicians were determined to "re-educate" our people. It was a positive move imo.

And because of the constant reminders and penalties meted out for failing to adhere to gracious behaviour over the decades, we begin to see glimpses of GCT’s gracious society. Even bad habits such as spitting, a distinctive trait among our ethnic chinese men has become a disappearing "trait" until it was re-ignited in recent years by the whole load of a specific group of foreign nationals with die-hard spitting habit across gender and age were unloaded onto our island.

By 2012, we have witnessed a play back of the ungraciousness and poor personal hygiene in the public that we used to “endure” and shockingly, new forms of ungraciousness appear fast and furious too. Contributed by foreign nationals. Supermarket trolleys discarded at HDB void decks, supermarket trolleys pushed onto shuttle buses, test-eating fruit in supermarkets .….are adding on to the traditional list of the unbecoming Singaporeans, and when the term “foreigner” is banned, all these undesirable traits are then conveniently or cunningly classified under Singaporeans' behaviour. Littering, spitting, jumping queue are on the growth again.

The distinction between citizens and foreign nationals (new citizens, PRs or foreign workers/talents) is needed, not for the purpose of promoting xenophobia, but to highlight (1) the growing trend of undesirable social behaviour (a frequent tourist to our island has written to our papers on finding more litter than 5 years ago) as the consequence of over-expansion of population; and (2) the justification of Singaporeans shouldering the accusation of a dirtier nation, appalling personal hygiene, more ungracious people when in actual fact, the no. of Singaporeans is dwindling against an increasing proportion of foreign nationals where 18 000 – 20 000 citizenships were given out in recent years.

Yes, Sim Ann, this is my hate-speech--I detest+hate+abhor poor hygiene manners and inconsiderate behaviour manifested in the public sphere regardless of the nationality of the offender. Nevertheless, it irks me more to find foreign nationals for exhibiting such manners because:

(1) Within my sphere of living space, I come across proportionately more ungracious foreign nationals than locals.

(2) The gradual improvement (nevertheless, there’s still more room for improvement) in our graciousness is promptly undermined by some foreign nationals.

(3) The proportion of foreign nationals* are growing whilst original Singaporeans (excluding the new citizens please) are proportionately shrinking.   

* My definition of foreign nationals differ from that of the politicians. Foreign nationals should comprise new citizens who were originally immigrants + PRs + foreign workers and talents.

Total population in Singapore=5.31 million @ Sep 2012
Citizens (original + new)
Non-resident population (people on various employment passes)

3.285 million
0.533 million
1.5 million

3.27 million citizens

Original citizens
New citizens

18 000 – 20 000 citizenships given out each year in recent years.
2005 -- 2010, Singapore added between 17,334 and 20,513 new citizens to the population each year. In 2011, the number dropped to 15,777. (The Straits Times - 8 July 2012)

Taking the conservative no. of 17 334 for the intake between 2005 – 2010 alone would give rise to more than 100 000 new citizens.

I exclude these new citizens from the original citizens’ co-hort as they are generally immigrants from foreign countries with their own social behaviour and have been exempted those years of “rigorous education” of social behaviour as the original citizens. With the unabated intake of new citizens, PRs and foreign people, we, the “original” citizens (the definition itself is vague, I know) are already fast becoming the minority in our own country before the official statistics would admit.

And because of the fast-changing demography between local citizens and foreign nationals, poor social bahviour among some foreign nationals is not a matter of a few black sheep, given their large numbers. Compounded by the poor social behaviour from our very own citizens, our civilization is going backward in greater scale and depths. Mr Baey and Ms Sim might not notice this changing trend as they live miles and centuries away from mundane places, such as our HDB flats and public transport where there is large presence of foreign nationals. Both would find life in Singapore the same as it was a decade ago.

Foreign labour has helped our country to fast forward into the advanced nations thru GDP figures and image-enhancing buildings/hardware and simultaneously, they are also lending us a hand to fast track into the uncivilized worlds.

How many foreign nationals (NC, PRs, FW/FT) can original Singaporeans embrace given the large presence of foreign nationals? It took us decades to re-educate our then small population of 3.5 million in the mid-90s and we are now looking at 5 million and are still going on to 6 million or so (Lee Hsien Loong said so). And please refrain from asking Singaporeans to embrace the foreign nationals. With the dwindling number of Singaporeans, we just do not have enough hands to do so.

Mr Baey and Ms Sim have been very concerned about hate speech and xenophobic comments demonstrated against foreign nationals. Their usage of hate speech or xenophobia are just mere distraction to the issue of holding double standards for original citizens and foreign nationals. If our ungracious behaviour back then irked the predecessors of Baey Kim Yam and Sim Ann, then why the silence now on the ungracious behaviour of the foreign nationals?

If xenophobia is the word for the hatred of foreigners, what is the equivalent word for the hatred of original citizens?