Saturday, December 18, 2004

Ms Han-Sun Bau Ling.

Okay. Something a little different from touchy-feely bleeding-heart style of posts. This is where I approach and maybe even cross the OB markers and blog on the issue of multiculturalism.

Here is a rough approximation of what a lot of us heartlanders think, if we were to be eloquent expressing it in ang mo ji (English language). Thought of writing it in Hokkien but it would be too troublesome to translate again.

"Singaporeans have become second class citizens in their own country. FT immigrants, especially so-called 'students', can receive various government benefits and help - in areas such as education fees and housing - that average Singaporeans miss out on. At the same time FT immigrants take thousands of jobs that would normally go to Singaporeans - while thousands of our students miss out on a university education because their places have been taken by overseas students from China and India. But quite aside from the economic implications and the anti-Singaporean discrimination; our country is being taken away from us: When Singaporeans walk through the streets, we feel like strangers in our own land - Singaporeans are being dispossessed; our people, our identity and our culture are all being slowly destroyed. Why have our government let these people in? In my time, I've voted for the PAP, but all of the ministers are selling us out. They know what the problem is, and they know most Singaporeans don't want an FT-dominated Singapore, but they refuse to solve the problem. There's so many FTs here that they're taking over the country just by sheer weight of numbers. If we don't do something about it now, we won't have a country left to pass onto our grandchildren."

I choose to target the generic government-endorsed term of FT ("foreign talent") immigrants, instead of Indians or some other minority race because:
i) it neatly sidesteps the issue of racial discrimination, and helps focus on cultural differences;
ii) it is inline with the execution of the government's immigration policy to encourage more genetically-Chinese immigrants.

So is what is written above discriminatory? Is it against racial harmony? Is it xenophobic? How closely does it reflect the true feelings of us heartlanders which border on illegal (ISD will arrest!) to express?

Or is it just a true-blue Singaporean heartlander struggling to keep the uniquely Singapore culture intact from the assault of FT immigrants bringing their own culture and forming their own enclaves in our homeland?


The piece of writing above is actually from The Asianisation of Australia, which has been edited slightly to reframe the context. The Australian political parties that have promoted these views have been accused of many things - xenophobia, racial discrimination, white supremist, race nazis, etc.

How different is a white Australian seeking to preserve his/her culture from being overrun by Asian immigration, different from a third-generation Singaporean seeking to preserve his/her culture from being overrrun by immigration from China, India, etc?

Oh, how quickly the wheel turns when the issue context is reframed.

Go do a bit of homework on Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party and how it changed Australian politics. Ignore the hubris, the scandal, the mud-flinging.. and actually read what One Nation wanted to stand for.

Grouses on how newcomers should adapt to mainstream culture and not vice-versa, on how large immigration numbers are 'diluting' out who we are, on how limited resources ( jobs / education / land / housing ) are 'misappropriated' by the newcomers...

As a heartlander, I hear the same emotions expressed in Mandarin, in Hokkien, in Teochew... but it is taboo to discuss the issues in Singapore's political scene. Instead we get placebos and soothing abstract speechs from our ministers about how "Singaporeans must come first".

What happened with One Nation was that the uneducated but eloquent auntie who runs the char kway teow stall in Toa Payoh Lorong 4 wins 22.5% of the votes in Toa Payoh constituency and gets a seat as an Independent MP in Singapore Parliament voicing out in the national press that Singapore's policies should "Singaporeans first".

The lines do certainly get blurred so very easily...


Blogger C said...

That was an excellent essay. I read another book called the Asianisation of Australia a while back, but by 2 different authors... and essentially, your second point about the parallels of the One Nation concerns and that of the Singapore heartland is spot on.

December 18, 2004 4:56 PM  
Blogger evangeline said...

that's a really good way of putting things!

as a transplanted sgian in austrlia (lol)..n having gond thru the whole pauline hanson scare first hand....well, i guess it really made an impact on me.

hmm. it's something to ponder about....

December 23, 2004 1:23 AM  

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