Thursday, March 17, 2011

During Crisis who stays who leaves...

By now you would have heard of the Fukushima 50[Link]. They are the last line of defence for the failed nuclear reactors in Japan. These 50 men working continuously for days have exposed themselves to very high doses of radiation and are risking their lives to prevent a nuclear disaster in Japan. TEPCO the Japanese company that owns those reactors asked for more nuclear plant workers to volunteer to this dangerous mission and 130 Japanese were willing to take up what may be a near suicide mission.
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On Twitter, one woman expressed her pride -- and anguish -- at the news that her father had offered to take part in the risky operation at the plant.
"I fought back tears when I heard father, who is to retire in half a year, volunteered to go," the message read.[
Link]
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Remember a few weeks ago, MM Lee said, "You must want to die for each other."[Link] Many us find it amusing that he thinks we should make the ultimate sacrifice for each other when he can't get his own ministers to accept less pay. If a situation like Fukushima surfaces in Singapore and volunteers are asked to be part of a mission to save others by risking their lives, how many will volunteer? The situation is different from a war and you're asked to be part of an army....this one is a suicide mission where your health and very likely your life has to be sacrificed away with a high level of certainty.

Why are these people willing to do it? Lets put this question aside first to look at something else.
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There are numerous reports of foreign nationals leaving Japan out of fear of radiation. The US & UK actually asked their citizens to leave Japan [Link] sparking a mini-panic...who wants to be left behind when people start leaving? Actually you can't blame foreign nationals for wanting to leave. They are there to earn money and when they perceive that there is some risk, they will pack their bags and go. I saw this Japanese woman interviewed on TV about the radiation - she was asked if she was afraid. She said, "A little bit", Then the reporter asked her if she was staying or trying to leave. She said, "This is my home..where am I going to go?". She was willing to accept some risk and not going to flee at the first sign of trouble.
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In Japan the % of foreigners is actually quite small and most are in Tokyo but the impact of seeing so many people trying to flee the country at the first sign of trouble during crisis is highly demoralising for the people who want to stay and rebuild the country. Of course nobody wants to the last guy out should the situation worsen and pose a danger for the living in Tokyo. We won't know if the radiation will rise to harmful levels in Tokyo but the window we are talking about is a few days before we know. However, it is best for such a large scale evacuation to be done in a coordinated manner . Given the distance from the troubled plants, the radiation level in the worse case scenario will harm a person in Tokyo only after prolonged exposure of weeks and months versus the certain serious damage within hours to the health brave workers at Fukushima. Panic is the worst response and that in itself will endanger others even if radiation doesn't to rise to harmful levels - peoeple hoarding food and water, for example, can cause others to starve. So it is in the common interest of people to stay calm, take care of each other and think of others.
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0700 GMT: Japan's government has urged people against panic-buying of food and supplies, as the country grapples with a massive natural disaster and resulting nuclear crisis. Daily necessities are in desperately short supply in the northeastern region worst-hit by Friday's earthquake and tsunami[Link]

We can see the different responses of various people in Japan - the foreigners will flee when there is risk , the average Japanese citizen who is frightened but willing to stay put and brave ones who are willing to die for others in the society. You cannot expect foreigners not to flee. A few years ago I sent a few Singaporean engineers to a foreign country but the political situation there became a bit tense - the risk was very low but my boss told me to pull back everyone immediately . I would do the same if I am working in another country and my family is back in Singapore. So these foreigners are not doing anything wrong - it is not their home, the people they love are somewhere else. Yesterday on Sky News a young British man living in Sendai (much nearer to Fukushima than Tokyo) skyped with reporters. He was asked why he wasn't leaving and he told them his girlfriend is Japanese so he did not want to leave without her and she refused to go with him because her family is staying.
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Japan's population consist of 1.5% foreigners and Tokyo has the highest concentration 2.3%[Link]. When faced with the greatest crisis any one group of people can face, you need the people to stay cohesive not fall apart with each person only willing to take care of his own interests. It is never possible to integrate foreigners fully - many of the foreigners fleeing Tokyo have been there 5 or 10 years....and this "dis-integration" will show up during crisis. Imagine if Tokyo is made up of 40% foreigners, what will happen? ...and if these foreigners are involved in essential services e.g. hospitals, what will happen? The crippling effects of 40% of the people getting out will deepen your crisis to a point that you may never be able to recover.
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The Japanese are a resilient people. They survived the humiliating defeat and atomic bombs of WWII. They are also one of the most cohesive people in a world and have preserved a common identity for hundreds of years. They will survive this crisis no matter how bad it gets because they will stay together and not fall apart. If the common identity of a people is destroyed, they lose their cohesiveness and things will fall apart during crisis. When you need 50 men willing to die to prevent (or reduce) a calamity will you be able to find them in a place where people are conditioned to act selfishly for their own interets?? ...is it possible in a country where the leadership shows an inability make sacrifices (hey, its just money) ?? Is it possible to have this cohesiveness if the primary goal of running the country is to achieve GDP growth and not care for people?

69 comments:

ilcourtilcourt said...

Dear Lucky,

this is as cheap a shot as GCT's.

You cannot say "see the foreigners flee, the Japanese stay" and get some weird conclusion about Singapore.

Yes embassies have advised their nationals leave, but that's because they want to avoid having to do it later when there is a crisis.
Many foreigners are staying as just as the majority of Japanese they think that they believe that Tepco, the government, the Japanese spirit will cool down the nuclear rods.
Many Japanese are leaving, as well, mums with children especially.
In the end it depends on where one feel one's responsibilities are on a lot of irrationality, for we are irrational beings.

Lye Khuen Way said...

Lucky is right on ! What will happen if a crisis develope in Singapore now that we are almost not a majority in our own city-state (country to me ) ?

Anonymous said...

lucky - long time reader living in tokyo. yes there are some people leaving - expats, long-term residents, and japanese as well. there are also expats, long-term residents, and japanese moving to southern areas. these people are moving or leaving for a variety of reasons.

there are also plenty of people - including foreigners - staying where they are for a variety of reasons.

i don't think you can necessarily draw an inferences about this in a singaporean context.

Anonymous said...

I will have to agree with lucky on this.. was watching bbc yesterday and was amused when they showed videos in narita choked full of foreigners waiting to leave.. its not that hard to find information that international flights out of japan are mostly fully booked, some countries are even chartering planes to fly their citizens out. realistically, we can't fault them as well.. at the end of the day, they always have another home to go back to.

Anonymous said...

I do understand Lucky’s lament and i think it is a fair comment. Importantly, we have to understand this in the right context. Yes both locals and foreigners are leaving and for various reasons. However, I would expect the foreigners, not having any sorts of strong bonding in Japan, to leave in larger groups when risk increases. At the end of the day, should the worst ever happens, do you expect to see a scene where a large number of foreigners will choose to stay back and rebuild the country? History has always told us that it is always the locals, those who eventually choose to stay on, that will undertake the uphill task. The foreigners are normally back when there are large rebuilding tender projects are up for grabs!

History has never been wrong and has always been consistent and repeating itself….no matter how well you can argue your case!

Anonymous said...

No point discussing hypothetical scenarios. Truth is they will leave. My cousin resigned his job in Tokyo, wife requests a transfer back to singapore and with baby in tow, fled Tokyo Monday. He left without a job.

Hordes of foreign money brokers have set up shop overnight as they shifted their operations overnight. Of course what happened in Japan is not going to happen here, but still the same, when life and limb are threatened, those who able will leave, regardless of nationality. Of course those without the financial means to flee will stay behind and soldier on.

Anonymous said...

Obviously if i am a foreigner, and if there is crisis, i would leave. Stay and fight for a foreign country??

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess if something nasty is to hit Singapore, many of these foreigners will leave within a blink. I dont see why they should stay back as this is not their country. So, it's left to us Sinkies to manage the situation ourselves.

You know, we are been called Champion Grumblers, daft or Lesser Mortals by our leaders, but I am quite sure when the time comes, heroes will step up & there will be many (probably peasants). Thing is, many of us like to put each other down during peace time & we have the good fortune of not experiencing any natural disasters or wars so far. However, I do feel that we are a tough bunch of SOBs & when the time comes (I hope never), many of us will make the self-sacrifice to help one another, regardless of race or religion. Yes I am that positive & much faith in Singaporeans!!

Anonymous said...

It is sickening to see locals working hard but not getting a good salary when prices of food & other things are skyrocketing. Here you have cacausians playing golf or going yachting on a Friday and spending laviously and restaurants over the weekends for gathering with friends. I feel sorry for myself and our countrymen. We have to watch our budget so closely while foreigners are having a good time here. It is not wonder no locals wants to work in the service sector less they have to deal with these cocky and arrogant bastards

Anonymous said...

i will flee cos i know our gov will also flee. i will sacrifice if i also know our gov will sacrifice. unfortunately, our gov is selfish and greedy. why die for a bunch of pigs?

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is not that the Japanese do not want to leave. Like what one Japanese woman says "This is my home..where am I going to go?".

So maybe it is not easy for them to find another place to go and can fit in, rather than not wanting to go.

Even in normal times, we don't attract much Japanese foreign talents, including the wrong talents like prostitutes, here. Even though the Japanese are well known for their porno literature. Maybe more due to the language and culture problem than anything else.

Not so for the Pinoys, Indian nationals, Chinese nationals, Malaysians, Indonesians etc where language is not so much an issue as we all use English and some Mandarin.

Hence I would say that, regardless of nationality, anybody who can find a better place to live and fit in will leave without hesitation even in normal times, what more when diasters happen.

Anonymous said...

Should there be any life threatening trouble in Singapore, we can definitely bet on the PAP elites fleeing Singapore first. And that includes our paper scholar Generals of the SAF!

Why do I say that? Because these people are only interested in the money and the perks. The PAP never served the country, they served themselves.

Anonymous said...

Please lah, the commentors should stop talking nonsense. If some crisis happens to Singapore, in Singapore, the foreigners will flee first. The reason is very simple. This is NOT their home. Their families are not living here. FULL-STOP.

Anonymous said...

In crisis, foreigners and permanent residents are the first to pack up and leave Singapore
simply because Singapore is not their home and they can easily go back to the foreign countries they are from through the foreign citizenship they are holding.

In crisis, Singapore Citizens have to stay to defend Singapore using their own lives.

Thus, we cannot depend on the foreigners and permanent residents. Foreigners and permanent residents come to Singapore with only one purpose:
To make as much money as they can.

Anonymous said...

In Singapore's context, it is better that the foreigners leave when there is a crisis. Unfortunately, the majority are poor migrant workers and won't be able to afford the way out.

With the food prices soaring, they won't be able to afford food also. Imagine what 1 million poor, hungry and desperate migrant workers will do when there is chaos.

I quit not said...

Quitters of SIngapore,
I ptui you - and your whole familee!

Anonymous said...

Not to mention those rude and unruly Chinese that comes to our shores. I wonder how some men can tolerate marrying a Chinese woman and bear having those Chinese mens as their relatives?

Anonymous said...

My best friends are actually Japanese. I really do not mind Japanese here but other foreigners, they are either cheapskates from poor countries or arrogant fellas like those angmohs. Let these unpopular ones go back to where they belong.

Anonymous said...

My friends who is an engineer in a japanese firm here will asked to leave as soon as possible. It is to make way for Japanese Engineer in Japan HQ effected by the Tsurami. See how the Japanese take care of their own people. If these happened in Singapore, i wondered, how Singaporean boss will respond.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand in the article, the message from Lucky is: When foreigners flee Singapore during a crisis, especially if the foreigners are in certain positions crucial to rescue and recovery such as among others, doctors and nurses, what leave for those who suffers?

Anonymous said...

Hey ilcourtilcourt

you said "Many Japanese are leaving, as well, mums with children especially."
May I know to where? Japan is their home. The most they leave to another part of Japan. Can we leave to another part of Singapore? How big is Singapore?
While the foreigners will never stay, thats for sure. Its not their country, and we don't expect them to stay either. So I think Lucky is right and I think you are a cock talker!

Anonymous said...

A retired Major once told me if there's a bomb in Orchard Road, he'll be on the first flight out of Changi!

Anonymous said...

nothing is worse than a city that's flooded in crocodile tears. dust your feet and move on.

Anonymous said...

Below is excerpt from newspaper in Japan ;

"While radiation-induced cancers are a serious worry for those exposed to high doses of radiation, they usually take at least a few years to set in.

“You may see an incidence of cancer 30 years down the road. Cataracts can set in in 30 to 40 years,” said Jenkins.

“Leukemia showed up within a few years in the atomic bomb survivors, but solid cancers did not appear until 10 years and continue [to show up] to this day,” said Hall.

The crews are not necessarily made up of strong young men. Emergency nuclear scenarios suggest asking older retirees to volunteer, not because they’re more expendable, or even because they’re more skilled, but because even if they’re exposed to massive amounts of radiation, history has shown they would die of old age before they die of radiation induced cancers, which can take decades to develop.

“No one is sacrificing themselves. Encouraging older workers is based on the idea that they are past their reproductive life, not on the basis of cancer risk,” said Hall. “It was common practice years ago when radium was used in hospitals to have ‘older’ workers as radium custodians… [because they are] past their reproductive years.”

It is only NORMAL that foreigners will flee in crisis like this, some will stay most won't. That leaves the local to handle. Now imagine our government will ask our retirees/aged to come forward for a suicide mission, how many will turn up? I suspect none or low percentage. The retirees/aged will have looked back and asked what the government has done abysmally for them (in securing dignified jobs & providing free healthcare) so far. That leaves the remainder young & abled. Again, people will ask - what's the point? IF SG is so small, a nuclear outbreak like this will have sink the island in no time, let alone a 20miles evacuation! Where to ? Is impossible to keep SG nuclear-free (remember the flood episode?) . So I think the PAP will have to pay the mercenaries to come and help them solve the problems with their $390B cash hoard in GIC. Everybody else can board their jet and finally emigrate to someplace else for good. Problem solved!

Anonymous said...

The old man preaches selfishness(the gist of meritocracy - be the best to have the best).

So draw your own conclusion.

Anonymous said...

the best for me and my family? not to be raped by white people.

NSman said...

Singaporeans are generally self-centred and ugly people. Even in peaceful times, you see them fighting and abusing others for some small gains. If there is a crisis, foreigners leaving will be the last thing i would worry about.

Anonymous said...

You need prim and proper people to breed that kind of people. That's why, the more church(in power) you have, the more fuk up you are.

Anonymous said...

Think global and stay...logical. LOL

Clear eyed said...

Very well said Lucky. Japan is what it is today despite odds that would have broken a lesser nation (earthquakes, tsunamis, destruction by A-bombs in WWII, etc) because of its spirit as exemplefied by the 50 Fukushima heroes. Not only are they fiercely protective of each other as a people, the culture of honour is deeply ingrained in them. Those at the top will apologise, step down or even commit suicide when they perceive they have failed the people they lead. Contrast this with Singapore and it is understandable why our leaders say we are not a nation, we are only a city and the pledge is just an aspiration. If there is a crisis here the foreigners will flee, that's for sure, and I don't blame them, it's human nature. And I'm sure that even before the exodus by the foreigners, our leaders, their families and cronies would already have abandoned Singapore and would be in some real first world country enjoying their massive ill-gotten wealth. Hopefully in such a crucial time heroes and true patriots will step up to lead the country. Otherwise we will just be consigned to the garbage bin of history.

Anonymous said...

naive pricks. we have guns on the 50 heads. don't go in, we shoot you. either way, you die

Anonymous said...

Usually, the hypocrites are the ones who are "spirited".

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr Lucky

//
You need prim and proper people to breed that kind of people. That's why, the more church(in power) you have, the more fuk up you are.
//

Where is your Christian-bashing?
Btw, your Best Friend Forever (Mr Alex Au) says "vote PAP".
Your LGBT fanboys are going to be very unhappy with you!

Anonymous said...

//
Those at the top will apologise, step down or even commit suicide when they perceive they have failed the people they lead.
//

Ha ha ... Cowardice and passing the buck are universal requirements for senior leadership posts!

Speaking of leadership ... hey Mr Lucky ... is your idol the black Messiah back in office after his latest golf holiday?

Stay strong and remember ... reality has a liberal bias!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr Lucky

//
Is it possible to have this cohesiveness if the primary goal of running the country is to achieve GDP growth and not care for people?
//

So do you "care for people" enough to stand for elections? Donate to the opposition? No?

Anonymous said...

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150210155663765&comments

I think she sums it up best. Leaders have a noble and moral duty to lead by examples. If we start seeing the erosions of its people and their behavior/values, they need to do their own reflection. In Buddhism, it is called "chitta virtti nirodhah" = how the mind turns things the wrong way.

It is funny to see how the ministers are all squirming in their chairs...

Anonymous said...

singapore government does not bother about their citizens. PAP only care for their own pocket. Not point to sacrifice yourself for these type of leaders. This is what i called "An eye for an eye".

Anonymous said...

moral authority?yah right. they must have broken the 10 commandments and thus, explain the calamity but as for us, we have not and therefore plenty of moral authority

Anonymous said...

squirming?with all the lovely money, the ministers are squirting in their chairs lah haha

Think Rationally said...

Putting all the emotional and social identity on hold, anyone with a background in Economics will tell that shit hits the fan when you have a sudden mass exodus of labor. One cannot deny the risk of having a large volatile segment of your population being foreign and having a higher probability to leave instantaneously.

Anonymous said...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/reactor-crisis-wipes-16374bn-from-general-electric-2245271.html

Foreign Companies & Talents still the best!?
Shorting the stock is even better!

Is that what they call the chicken has come home to roost.

Anonymous said...

u daft or what? regardless of race and language, and nationalities, all will run from shit. unless you enjoy shit

Anonymous said...

naive pricks. we have guns on the 50 heads. don't go in, we shoot you. either way, you die

18/3/11 15:06
I think we are build of better substance . money.

Anonymous said...

Sure there will be some Singaporeans who flee when disaster strikes, especially the rich who have a second home elsewhere.

But commonsense tells us that much more foreigners will leave compared to natives. An economy that relies on foreign labour will undoubtedly be dealt with a double blow.

Commonsense, btw, is what PAP and its supporters sorely lack.

Anonymous said...

Today, I saw a footage on the cnn showing a doctor and some nurses attending to the people in a hospital which was also hit by the tsunami. All the medical staff are Japanese.

Over here in Singapore now, if you were to pay a visit to any of the government hospital you will find that it is run by at least 60% foreigners from doctor to the nursing staff.

Imagine what will happen if Singapore were to run into some disaster and serious enough for other country governments to advise their citizens to evaucate. All essential services which are over reliance on foreigners will come to a stand still.

My take from Lucky's article is that we should urgently look into our over dependent on foreigners.

Anonymous said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/17/japanese-earthquake-toll-ageing-population-deaths?CMP=twt_iph

The stark reality. You just can't save everyone.

I would also like to know what's the percentage of foreigners in our hospitals today.

Anonymous said...

Send in the bankers, CEO and their happy slaves.. they already have huge sums of wealth and they have secured it for their next of kin..
.. they obviously know they cannot bring it with them when they die.. so they are the ones who should step up and lead the charge, personally.

Go in there and douse the rods..
demonstrate once at least.

Anonymous said...

Lucky, the papists will be amongst the first to run away. Remember what LWL wrote about her father advising her and her brother to leave Singapore in the event that the N Vietnamese marched down to Singapore in the 70's? Don't be surprised they have structured our foreign assets in such a way that they can operate on them even when they are exiled outside Singapore. I have no doubt that most of the elites have luxurious homes outside Singapore, just in case they need to use them in an emergency.

Anonymous said...

When the economy in Dubai crashed, the foreigners left leaving behind their unpaid cars, unpaid houses and unpaid credit cards. If Singapore's economy crashed wouldn't that happen as well? Especially when the people we are attracting are mainly here for the money.

Anonymous said...

Me will say that the slightest sign of impending serious problems, we will see our politicians going overseas to do 'official duties' and will only return when it is safe to do so.

patriot

Anonymous said...

It's a given that foreigners and PRs will leave should a catastrophe struck Singapore that threatens their health and well-being.

Food for thought.

A very high percentage of nurses and doctors in our hospitals are non-Singaporeans. What if many of them leave when a large scale catastrophe struck ? How are our hospitals going to cope with an extraordinary large number of casualties without these healthcare workers ?

Has the PAP govt considered such a scenario ? Does the PAP govt has a contingency plan should such a situation occur ?

Anonymous said...

In addition to foreign talents and PRs leaving, newly minted citizens will leave, waving their red passports.

Anonymous said...

bodoh.everyone leave except lucky lah.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lucky
This is a great article.

I was almost moved to tears too when I read about the Fukushima 50.

And then I started thinking about an equivalent PAP 50. And I laughed so hard I fell off my chair.

I can almost hear our PAP 50 discussing among themselves:

a) What to do. It's happened. Let's move on.

b) What do you want? Three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?

c) "The PAP Government has always thrived on its ability to anticipate problems." - Wong Kan Seng

d) "We are not able to be everywhere as a government to know everything in Singapore." - PM Lee

e) "The fugitive (Mas Selamat) was either still in Singapore, hidden by sympathisers, or had fled the country". - Wong Kan Seng
(Wow! No kidding. Who'd thunk that? Worth every cent we are paying him)

http://singaporeelection.blogspot.com/2006/08/mindboggling-quotes-from-pap-elites.html

Clear eyed said...

Most of the nurses in our restructured hospitals are foreigners. If an epidemic of highly infectious and deadly disease were to occur here, they may all flee back to their own country. Can the hospitals continue to run without them?

It does not take a major catastrophe to send the foreigners fleeing, leaving the whole system here crippled.

Anonymous said...

On the foreigners ratio in our hospital today. It got me thinking. Some silly fella has suggested earlier that maybe women should do national service. A better proposal would be to train all women in red-cross and life saving critical skills instead. 1 week out of a year, is a nice break from work to learn some vital skills.

Anonymous said...

hahaha..I like the idea of PAP 50! Chiong ahhh!

Cock Eyed said...

Not only foreigners, Your mother, your father,your grand chokong your grand neh neh and your little didi will also leave if life is threatened in no man's land.

Anonymous said...

LOL

Anonymous said...

Lucky, in time of crisis, I will follow the leadership. I plan to send my kids away but I will stay on.

Anonymous said...

all humans are selfish. that's the basis of our government. these ppl who "sacrificed" have no choice. best you can say about them is that they are....pragmatic.

Anonymous said...

but of course, there will be those who will die for 72 virgins

Anonymous said...

In time of peace and plenty, let the leaders enjoy their lives. When tsunami happens, Singaporeans must stand between the waves and the leaders. We can show the world that Singaporeans can beat the Japanese as far as loyalty is concerned.
The Japanese have been changing their prime ministers like fashion. Singaporeans not only elected the same party for more than 45 yrs, who the party chose to be prime ministers and presidents have always got the blessing of the electorates. No other country can boast of such stoic loyalty.
We are all blessed to be Singaporeans, leaders and people all beating with one heart.

Anonymous said...

ha. I am sure they are thinking for themselves when they die for...."72 virgins".

how pleasurable and gloriously naive. ha

Anonymous said...

please lah. eat full full don't come here and talk cock lah. these leechers have enough in their bank accounts to live several life times. let them "sacrifice" that before we talk about the ppl sacrificing for "72 virgins"

Anonymous said...

If I die for my country, it is a pragmatic gesture. please don't read too much into it,especially creative spinners.

Anonymous said...

fuking spinners are probably goondoos who talk incessantly about killing chickens to redeem man.

Anonymous said...

LOL

Anonymous said...

Do you there is this guy who worked for the Japanese (apparently for the Kempetai - but officially claimed as translator)during the war instead of fighting for the country. He is now hailed as a great man but deem down everyone who has the guts will know that he is nothing but a traitor. It's not only the country he betrayed but friends as well. With leaders like him, we can never be like the Japanese