Saturday, September 06, 2008

Foreign Workers try to land in Serangoon Gardens.

Foreign workers, please come here to contribute to our economy, build our skyscrapers & condominiums but don't ever come and live near me especially if I'm middleclass Singaporean living in a private property. ......have you guys been to Boon Lay Interchange recently?
I was there 2 weeks ago and the place was packed with foreign workers. I think there were more foreign workers than there were Singaporeans there that day. When I got to my friend's HDB flat nearby and asked him about the situation, he said, "What to do, these foreign workers are also humans, they need to go out, meet their friends and shop....". He said the workers sometimes gather to drink leaving their empty beer bottles at the void deck but other than that he didn't have really have any major complaints about them.

There are more than 1 million foreign workers in Singapore. They have to live somewhere, they need to shop for stuff and they have to use our public transport. This is not a debate about whether they should be here or not but given that they are already here, what type of host country do we want to be?
Emotions ran high when a unused school in Serangoon Gardens was chosen by a contractor to house his foreign workers. Serangoon Gardens is no ordinary HDB neighborhood where 75% of Singaporeans stay. It is a private estate where richer Singaporeans live and residents there are concerned about safety, congestion and property depreciation:

"Assuming there were 1,400 households, each worth $1 million, in the estate, he said 'even a 1 per cent drop in asset value (because of the workers' presence) would mean a $14-million loss" - Serangoon Gardens Resident
"Why is no one looking for suitable places to house these workers away from all the inconveniences and insecurity that people feel?" - Serangoon Gardens Resident
After reading about these residents' concerns, I became really worried about my own safety. I walk past groups of foreign workers everyday on my way home . They stand right next to me on MRT everyday. My mom and sisters have to walk past places where there are foreign workers although they have been doing it for more than 2 decades without anything happening, we cannot assume nothing will. What about the children and old folks in Boon Lay? I fear for their safety.
Lets all sign a petition like the Serangoon Garden folks to keep foreign workers out of our neighbourhood. If Serangoon Garden residents won't have them, why should the rest of us? Surely, if the MND takes into account of the concerns of the folks in Serangoon Garden and keep the foreign workers out, the same concern about safety, congestion and loss of property value to has to apply to the rest of us who live close to foreign workers dorms or worse still have neighboring flats rented to foreign workers.

Whether we agree or disagree with the govt's foreign worker policy, once the foreign worker comes to Singapore, most of us have accepted that they are humans like us and have the right to live, shop and meet on their off days. I'm so glad that Serangoon Gardens residents have emerged to warn the rest of Singapore otherwise - that the foreign worker living next to us is not what he appears to be, he can turn into a criminal anytime targeting old folks and children. He is the one to blame for road congestion and not the LTA. He should be stopped from overrunning our pristine gardens and parks confined to his quarters on his off day. The rest of the country who have been complacent about the foreign workers that live close to them should now wake up for they have been living in danger.....we want only the labour that these workers provide but they cannot live like us, among us and near us. Yes, if MND grant the wish of residents of Serangoon Gardens to live in an estate free of foreign workers, it should also do the same for the people of Boon Lay and other HDB estates.

I leave you with some soundbites from 938Live which had a discussion on this issue.....

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Capt_Canuck said...

I guess Singapore's 'Racial Harmony' that the Lees tell the world that Singapore is good for only applies to the rich or middle class PRs or Singaporeans living in Singapore huh?

Look on the bright side, normally there are some people more equal than others (the Elites over the common Singaporean), now the common Singaporean is as equal as the elites in this aspect by raising them above the foreign worker.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps our SPF can post dummy boys in blue outside every household.

p.s. i'm 66.6% sure the decision will stay....
Btw i'm surprised ST purposely shame those out-spoken residents by printing their photos...hahaha

Onlooker said...

the hint so bad huh. link start at Rangoon :)
The problem is growing here in Singapore because beside those Legal worker(with pass) there are also illegal workers(extra egg in kway tiao) living in those quarters too.
Look at the bright side even the British(real talent) expats living there are considering returning to Britian(their home country) or going to the next cheap country (esp malaysia,thailand)to settle down and/or retire only those who are stuck here (ie poor, untalented, old or in a bind (:ie retrenched:) ).
The question now is whether they want the image of good economy or face the facts.
Unfortunately image is more important that why they invest in merrill lynch for LONG TERM.
Don't worry, They will retrench Foreign worker first if there is a slowdown(recession).Or is it the opposite?

Anonymous said...

The above comment is a loop figure it out :)

Anonymous said...

There's a worker's hostel known as The Alcacia Lodge (posh name huh?) at Bukit Batok Street 23, go drive by during the evening... I think there's a bus service too (better still experience sharing public transport with them!), around 8 or 9pm it gets quite manic, see if you want to share your neighbourhood with THESE foreign workers.

No harm experiencing first hand before saying these are grumpy middle-class Singaporean, am I right?

Anonymous said...

As a resident of Serangoon Gardens, I wouldnt sign the petition either, although the issue of security would be highest on my mind. What I dont get is why the media here are so afraid of using the 'R' word, cos that is what this all boils down to. Recently another school in Ser Gdns was taken over by the French School and a number of angmoh families have moved into to the estate..dont see anyone complaining abt that. So if the foreign workers were angmohs, I bet no petition wld hv been raised, but the chinese here would not tolerate a non-Chinese, non-AngMoh Asians moving in...Even as their nextdoor neighbours. Such hypocrites!

Jeff Khoo said...

I like how the Sunday Times contrasted our reaction to expats moving into Serangoon Gardens and the suggestion to construct a foreign workers' dormitory there.

Hope this debate will properly get people thinking about how we view foreigners as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Expats are different from foreign workers (those construction workers kind) lah. Their social background and behaviour are so different. Why blame serangoon gdn residents? Do you want your own estate to see an influx of these migrant labourers/workers?

I say build these dormitories in areas where our ministers live. Let them lead by example? And this applies too to those of you who lambaste serangoon gdn residents. Walk the talk, can?

Anonymous said...

So much for Racial Harmony

Anonymous said...

I'm sure nobody will protest if the land were to be occupied by the "white" foreigners (ang moh). I have neighbour from downunder. Their behaviour and attitude are as "rough". They pay no respect and understanding to our asian values. They criticise loudly about our Singapore system and people. In conclusion, it doesn't matter whether u are black or white, is the inner virtue that counts.

Anonymous said...

I take the NEL regularly. Most of the time, it is the foreign worker that gives up their seat to my kids. They do not need to do that but I can sense that they gave up their seat very willingly n graciously. So what does that say abt S'poreans generally?

Momo said...

what this blogger has written is sad and reflect sadly on what our education to embrace multiracialism and respect for others.

kind golfer said...

The rich and the ordinary should share their space with the foreign workers. House one group in the Bukit Timah - Sixth Ave area and the other in the AMK estate.
I think one netizen came up with a brilliant idea of converting one golf course into an estate for foreign workers. Singapore does not need so many under-utilized golf courses.

Anonymous said...

Lucky Tan,

You are so right!

After reading your article, I am begining to worry for my grandfather's estate too.

He died 10 years ago and was buried in the Chua Chu Kang Cemetry. Today, I read that there were several thousands of foreign workers living there!

While these foreign workers claimed they were not worried about their neighbours when interviewed, I worry about my grandfather's safety and night time traffic congestion there. There are not many buses plying along these roads and both groups are very active at night.

Can you also start a petition for my grandfather's estate too?

I know those in Sergangoon Gardens will finally get their way as they are the upper middle and angmoh types. Our government kow tows to them.

But what about the very silent majority of Singapore, my grandfather types?

K said...

spend your weekend shopping in jurong point. then walk around boon lay interchange and nearby hdb void decks.

better still, do it on a rainy day.

if you have a good time, support the plan.

godsend said...

I am surprised the MND did not look at Hougang and Potong Pasir.
Kill 3 birds with one stone. Solve the housing problem and screw the 2opposition wards. Remember Goh C T's plan to let these 2 wards become slums by withholding funds for upgrading.

Anonymous said...

that is why there is a conspiracy theory that this whole saga is orchestrated to make George Yeo more competent than what he really is ....

Score points for the next erection.

Anonymous said...

good observation. the pappies are always scheming and the serangoon gdns residents should know better.
just tell georgie it was a big big mistake for this govt to pick their estate. go pick hougang or potong pasir.

overview said...

So far, there has never been any mention of the nationality of the foreign workers, so those who are insinuating racism should hold their horses.

In the meantime, perhaps the "relevant authorities" can propose building a workers hostel in the vicinity of Oxley Road. It will be interesting to see the reaction.

Anonymous said...

Singpore will collapse if the dorm is built around Oxley area....

And we will see MM crying again on TV.

MM cries whenever his $$ are at risk.

He cried over the condo and the mercedes saga too.

These are very serious developments that will cripple SG's economy and future. No play play.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys and girls,

I believe the dorms should be placed as much as possibe elsewhere eg industrial parks etc. My reason is not based on any discrimination but I thought about it would be a bit of a squeeze if one shot 1000 people moved to my neighbourhood. People usually move in bit by bit. Imagine the congestion and the sudden change. It doesn't matter if it's foreign workers, angmohs or martians.

Furthermore, the clash in cultures will be inevitable. What is important in this case is that we do not despise them.

I truly believe that the workers being housed there is a matter of their boss wanting to cut cost. There would be a more appropiate place but probably for a higher price.

How come no one is asking about how the contractor came to his decision to use the school in Serangoon Gardens?


Anonymous said...

i feel sad that you feel this way, ashamed that you call yourself 'a singaporean mind'.

singapore is essentially an immigrant country, very much like the US. please do not place yourself on a moral high ground, and judge these People according to stereotypes. You are an immigrant too. Who are you to place yourself above another man?

as a singaporean elite, i can choose to disassociate myself with low income, low social status singaporeans. but do i? no. i choose to respect each and every person as a human being. even if they move into sixth avenue, there is no cause for alarm, or pre emptive judgements for that matter.

Anonymous said...

firstly, i do not care if they are black, yellow, brown and white. a bunch of 1500 men together, sadly is very difficult to manage.

those in the army will know what is it like to have 40 men together - lots of havac can even happen!

btw, many people think the problem as not their own to handle and that sg residents are snobbish.

I disagree. I think these jokers are even worse - hypocrites who cannot even understand the situation.

I only need to ask 1 question - can that small lane handle the 70 new big truck or buses every morning and evening?

To compare against the expats who moved in - it is bec the same no of household moved out - no sudden increase in numbers or vehicles.

See the picture now?

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Anonymous said...

As a SG resident, I want to Thank MP Ms Lim Hwee Hua for standing up for us in today's paper.

Yes, some ST writers really should be removed from writing. Unlike the Ms Tan of Malaysia's paper who was arrested for 18hrs for ONLY reporting what she heard, some (not all), ST writers do much worse things like slant their view, paint us in bad light, accuse us of being snobbish and prejudice. Did not give us the right to say our feelings.

If Ms Chua of ST Political desk can write such a piece - it tells a lot about her integrity and tinted lenses. Should she be treated worse like Ms Tan of Malaysia then?

BTW, we petition like any democracy (or near democarcy) do. We invite our elected MPs to hear our concern and bring it to MND. Did we abuse any "power" or any incite any class struggle like she is portraying or is she inciting class struggle herself and being prejudice against us? Did she even check the traffic condition here herself? Can she calculate how many buses and trucks that will park outside Burghley's drive (and spill to Li Hwan Dri perhaps)? Perhaps she cannot do this simple maths or she cannot think at all. Or she just did not do her homework before writing. That is more like it. How do the residents go to work then when they cannto even drive out of their front porch in those narrow 1 way street filled to the brim with trucks and buses? Parents of the nearby convent primary school (also on Burghley Dr) already got problem sending their kids there in the morning already!

It is really about zoning, planning and being exploring alternatives.

As it is, many people are hypocrites in standing so easily on the "right" side while not exploring the issues in depth and are afraid to voice in the unpopular.

I hope ST will be more responsible, objective and factual, and not incite division among own S'pore citizens.

Anonymous said...

ive known enough people whose handbags were snatched, robbed at knife point, trailed, pick-pocketed by foreign workers. One of the BIG PLUS about living in Singapore is its security, if we even lose that perk, then there's really not much left for us to look forward to.

if you drive a ferrari or any flash car in singapore, your concerns really stop at getting your car sctached by some green-eyed monster. Dont have to worry about getting kidnapped, robbed, car-jacked, at least for now.

Oh well, guess the middle class should only consider moving to Bt Timah where many of our ministers stay, at least they can be sure that no foreign workers will be loitering around after working hours. Better Serangoon Gardens than Bt Timah.

Anonymous said...

for those who support and agree to build a foreign worker dorm next to serangoon garden. i will pray for you every day that one day, the dorm will be build next to or opposite to your house.. Hope that the dorm can house few thousand workers and nobody is going to buy your house anymore so that you can stay next to the foreign workers forever.

Anonymous said...

i'm definitely voting for the opposition in the next election.. stupid Serangoon Gardens useless MP..

Anonymous said...

Agree!!! fully agree!!!. Our MPs are useless. None of them is helping us, the people.. most of them are just blindly following the instructions given by their head..

Hate the MPs, hate....hate..

Anonymous said...

i'm still puzzled why ppl are comparing 600 men with expat families, i hope you guys realised that families moving in to integrate with the neighbourhood is totally different from foreign workers who are all single, alone and here to work NOT to settle down.

Anonymous said...

I can understand the feelings of those at Serangoon Gardens. I'm a work permit holder in Singapore too. In my own country there are also foreign workers (Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Myanmarese). At first it was okay, but then when some of these foreigners started dating and marrying the local girls things changed a bit. Cases of robbery, beatings and many other crimes committed by local boys toward the foreigners started to crop up. The residents of Serangoon Gardens voiced their concern using a much more civilised way compared to the local boys mentioned above, but it shouldn't be any less effective. Now don't get me wrong. I'm a foreign worker too. Whenever I read an article written by a Singaporean voicing their animosity and discontent towards foreign workers I do felt slighted for a few seconds. But then being in my line of work I've had my fair share of meeting people and dealing with foreign workers daily. Tell you what, I don't want some of them to stay near me too. No matter how nice and respectful I am towards them, they acted like I owe them something. Well they can go gently caress themselves.

Kit Fan said...

it seems some people missed the writer's sarcasm. LOL.

Anonymous said...

I think you are just some elite prat who stereotype people with your narrow tunnel vision. Please make good of your education and think. Or at least have a good heart to feel for people

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Anonymous said...

It is like saying the road sweepers sweep your streets, the cleaners clean your estate and so they have a right to live in your house.

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