This accident has been the focal point of much discussion among Singaporeans for the past few days. There are numerous reasons for this. This accident apparently caused by a driver from PRC is one of a series of accidents involving foreigners. Perhaps the dramatic manifestation of the difficulties we have integrating people from different places. The accident involved a taxi driver, an occupation that has is often associated with hardship among a large segment of Singaporeans - there are no social safety nets when Singaporeans lose their jobs and driving a taxi is one of the few tough options left for PMETs suffering from structural unemployment. The limited edition red Ferrari that cost $1.8M is seen as an immoral excessive conspicuous consumption resulting from the growing income divide in our country. The Ferrari driver had another car, a BMW. The purchase of luxury cars by the rich is one factor in rise of the COE that puts ownership of cars out of reach for some lower middle class families that need a car badly, The driver who took the Ferrari to speeds of 150km/hr, way beyond our traffic rules, and beat a red light (as seen from video evidence provided another cabby at the same junction[video not for the faint-hearted ] shocked Singaporeans who are generally law abiding citizens.
The 31 year old Chinese national, reported to have millions, is one of the many who move their wealth here for various reasons including tax avoidance[Facebook Singaporean founder] and other darker reasons due to the existence of casinos. Superficially such wealth is seen by some to make Singapore "richer" however this money is often brought here to be parked in our banking system or use for the purchase of property or luxury cars benefiting a small number private bankers and "already rich" property developers. Existence of "concentrated" wealth does not trickle down to create a better economy for the ordinary citizens as we have seen from here and numerous examples around the world. In Singapore this "wealth" adds to the hardship of ordinary Singaporeans by driving up the cost of living. In the past we welcome people who invested in new businesses, factories but in the last decade the rich bought residency simply moving wealth to Singapore and it was only recently that the govt realised this mistake and scrapped the "wealth for PR" scheme[Wealthy foreigners can't 'buy' PR status anymore]....its already too late because Singaporeans have been negatively impacted by this policy.
This accident has become an outlet for the anger that has been festering and building up in our society for a long time due to the large foreign influx. There is much anger directed at the dead driver of the Ferrari, Ma Chi for flouting the rules and causing the accident. But fatal accidents occur every few days involving Singaporean drivers speeding. I'm sure Ma Chi did not have the intention of causing an accident and getting himself killed and that he hit a taxi and not a tree or another luxury car is purely incidental. The dramatic nature of the accident and the incidental links to many things that frustrated Singaporeans helped fuel the anger. Because the accident involved a foreign national, Singaporeans associate this with their own negative encounters with foreigners - spitting, speaking loudly in buses, quarreling in public, pushing they way into crowded buses and MRT, less than "smooth" driving skills of recently recruited foreign bus drivers. Much of this frustration has little to do with individual foreigners - it is not their fault that cultural and behavioral differences exist. They are not here to cause problems for you but to help themselves to job opportunities and scholarships to make their own lives better. The PAP govt took the large number of people in first then try to figure out how to integrate them later....after all the friction and tension shows up. Personally I think it is too little, too late and too difficult to change perceptions that are now so deeply ingrained. This mountain of resentment is easily fired up by various incidents involving foreigners.
Anger turned to sadness and sympathy when the taxi driver, Mr, Cheng Teck Hock passed away after 2 days in ICU. He was the sole breadwinner and had 3 school going children. Concern for Mr. Cheng's family led to a donation drive[Ferrari Accident: Ways to help the family] and Minister Shanmuggan has assured Singaporeans the family will receive hep:
"Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said Mr Cheng's family will have the cast-iron assurance that they will be provided with all necessary assistance"[Link]
If you want to help Mr. Cheng's family, send your cheques payable to his wife Mdm Lim Choo Eng to:
THE CHENG FAMILY c/o Comfort Transportation Pte Ltd
383 Sin Ming Drive
Attn: Customer Service Centre
Given this is one of a series of accidents, many Singaporeans have raised the issue whether foreigners should be made to pass the stringent driving tests that Singaporeans have to go through to get a license. In Singapore, we have one of the toughest driving tests in the world and Singaporeans are made to go through many driving lessons before they are able to pass the driving test. In some parts of the world, you can get a license after 6 hours of lessons and a simple driving test. In many places, you can get one by paying a bribe. This accident aside, our congested narrow roads are a lot harder to navigate than those in many other countries. In Australia (Victoria), for example, they only allow conversion of driving licenses without a driving test for drivers from a few selected countries - Singapore is one of them[Link] but China is not on the list. When we talk about integration, it should not be a one-sided thing where Singaporeans adapt to foreigners. Drivers from different countries have different practices and habits. We put a requirement on Singaporeans to have a certain level of skills and demonstrate a level of safety before they are licensed to drive on our roads ...why is there no similar requirement imposed on foreign residents here?