- Reporter Tan Hui Yee
summarises the concerns in today's
provocative Sunday Times article "Your backyard, my front door".
I agree with the Serangoon Gardens residents. People have the right to choose who their neighbors are and the problems of safety cited by the people of Serangoon Gardens are a real and serious …so is the problem of congestion. Yes, there was little congestion when the buildings were schools filled with students who were taken home by school buses and cars but once the foreign workers move in, there will be congestion, crime will go up and parks will be messed up.
We should now organise petitions to evict foreign workerers in Boon Lay where they are concentrated -surely the residents there face the same dangers and inconvenience as those in Serangoon Garden. There is a dorm in Tampines - lets have it removed as it endangers Singaporeans in that area.
The Serangoon Garden residents have opened my eyes to a new set of values. I grew up poor in a kampung and was surrounded by people who were sometimes poorer than me. I was brought up to tolerate anybody who moved next to me and there were many “types”. One guy set up a shoe factory and housed his Malaysian workers next to my home. Althought they caused me little trouble, I realise now that I don’t have to even tolerate them and risk the unknown. I should have organised a petition to have them located far away from me. …why tolerate people who are poor, potentally dangerous in my eyes and different from myself.
I have grown up with the wrong values that one should be as tolerant as possible for a start to people who are different. The people of Serangoon Gardens are right, one should choose one’s neighbor to protect our property values. Some people are so low there is no need for the presumption of innocence and prejudice is not wrong…when they come, they will steal, rob, endanger the people around them.
"During the colonial days, we used to have parties
and play together with European children. It was
like one happy family and I don't mind them here"
- Jane Lim, Serangoon Garden Resident.
.The Sunday Times also reported that there were 5000 expats who moved in the same area in the past few years and they feel welcome in the estate. Nobody there complains about traffic problems cause by expats.
If the MND stops the building of workers dorm in Serangoon Gardens, it has to do the same for those living in HDB flats in Boon Lay, Jurong West and Woodlands and remove the foreign workers there because if the safety concerns are real, it has to be real also for people living in HDB. The desire for people to separate themselves from others and prejudice against people who are different were once manifested in another country - South Africa in the form of apartheid. The whites in S. Africa justified this by saying, they felt unsafe living near black people who will commit crimes against them. I never ever expect to see the same kind of sentiments expressed in Singapore, a nation so proud of its racial harmony.