A woman, with the help of the driver, took a loaded shopping trolley onto a public bus. What is incredible is not just this amusing incident itself but Straits Times' report on the incident. The witness to the incident who posted the video on YouTube said that both the driver and woman were "PRCs" - a term commonly used to describe mainland Chinese who have come here recently retaining much of their language, habits and culture etc. This piece of information missing from the Straits Times report is key because given China is so big it is possible that in some parts of China, it is actually common practice to bring trolleys onto public buses. The woman may be just unaware that such practices are not allowed here. If the driver knew it was wrong, why would he risk his job to help the woman?
I once saw a foreigner (his clothes and mannerism were dead giveaways) push an NTUC Fairprice trolley along a pavement. The nearest NTUC supermarket is 400 meters from where I spotted him. Maybe in some parts of the world this is common practice. I would give these people some benefit of the doubt that they are not so familiar with the rules here. One important part of integrating people is for them to learn the rules here. There are written rules and unwritten rules ...and in Singapore we have mamy rules so it takes time to integrate people.
I have seen Indian Singaporeans and Malay Singaporeans going up a bus to ask for directions and the bus driver from PRC couldn't help them because he spoke no English. It is not his fault because when he was hired by the bus company there was no requirement for him to speak English.
In the recent incident involving a Ferrari and a taxi, many Singaporeans asked if we should allow foreign drivers to just go onto our roads especially if they are from countries where the driving standards and habits are completely different from ours - this is a legitimate question.
It takes time for us to get used to their behaviour and for them to get used to ours. This is a long and sometimes frustrating process but the difficulties should surprise no one. As a result of frustration, Singaporeans have expressed the the problems they face and unhappiness resulting from these integration problems on the Internet. Where else can they bring up and highlight these problems? The mainstream paper tends to obscure the facts (like in the trolley incident) and play up the "intolerance" of Singaporeans in such situations.
Because of the high influx of foreigners, Singaporeans have suffered from structural unemployment, depressed wages, high cost of living and crowded public transportation. There is higher competition now for many things from jobs to cars (COE) to university places.
"The truth is that we pay some workers such low wages not primarily because their productivity is inherently low but largely because they are competing against an unlimited supply of cheap foreign workers." - Tommy Koh
The fear of income and job loss among Singaporeans is a real one. The effects of overcrowding has undermined the quality of life here. The high foreign influx has generated negative sentiment and fueled the anger among some Singaporeans. Some Singaporeans have turned to the Internet to express this anger. While this anger finds outlets in specific events involving foreign individuals, the underlying cause of this anger is unhappiness over the policy to allow the high foreign influx.
The mainstream media and PAP politicians have started to frame the concerns and unhappiness as "anti-foreigner" sentiments[Has anti-foreigner sentiment gone too far] and "tirades". Through this re-casting of the problem, the MSM and PAP puts the blame on Singaporeans for being intolerant and harboring "anti-foreigner" sentiments. This characterisation is not only incorrect, it is unfair to Singaporeans who have suffered from PAP policies. While this "blame the victim" approach has been used by the PAP to promote their past policies, there is general consensus on the ground against the high foreign influx. This tactic to turn play one group Singaporeans against another in order to achieve their own political goal will divide Singaporeans. Singaporeans should not "stand up against" one another on this, we should stand to gather in order to move ahead on this issue.
Nowhere else in the world have citizens been as tolerant as Singaporeans when it comes to the acceptance of foreigners. Just look at what has happened in Australia and Hong Kong[Link] where there has been a far stronger reaction even though the influx to those places is far lower on a per capita basis. Singaporeans have only reacted because the numbers have become so large and they have personally experienced the negative effects of these policies. The concerns of Singaporeans have to be properly addressed and the the policy must benefit native Singaporeans as a whole in the long run. Otherwise, Singaporeans will oppose the liberal immigrant policy to stop further deterioration to their quality of life.
Labelling those who oppose the liberal immigration policies as "anti-foreigners" and calling their expression of frustration "tirades" are irresponsible attempts to divide Singaporeans in order to advance a policy seen as harmful by most Singaporeans. The focus of govt should be on how the problems faced by Singaporeans should be addressed and on changes that will lead to long term benefits for Singaporeans. By failing to do this, the govt has deepened the anger and opposition to this policy. By putting forth fallacious arguments such as foreigners create jobs for Singaporeans when more than 70% jobs created are taken up by foreigners [Link]they have added to the frustration and anger.
We all know that foreigners are here because they want to have higher incomes to create a better future for themselves and their families . We, Singaporeans, will do the same if we are in their shoes. It is not their fault that integration problems have arisen and our public transport is overcrowded just as it is not the fault of Singaporeans that they feel frustrated and angry with the situation. We depend on our leaders to formulate beneficial policies and get the numbers right to achieve the desired outcomes. When they don't do their job well, it is unfair and irresponsible to blame Singaporeans who are at the receiving end of their policies.