Tag Archives: xenophobia

My reply to: “PM Lee: ‘National Conversation’ is about managing expectations” on Temasek Times

I have to say that the article “PM Lee: ‘National Conversation’ is about managing expectations” did little to give an accurate analysis of the Prime Minister’s comments.

While I encourage my fellow citizens to examine the messages that the media puts out to us, it is important that we remain discerning and objective when reading and interpreting what the state media or the new online platforms publish.

Let us first take a close look at the article carried by Today newspaper. Comments about which the article is based on are:

“”But some stones, after we look at them, the original place was quite nice, we put it back. There has to be a balance,” said Mr Lee, as he pointed out that managing expectations would be a key challenge of having the conversation.”

If you look carefully at what the Prime Minister is saying, he has made it clear that we should be willing to leave certain issues be, if there is no need for a change.

On the other hand, the commentary by the newspaper or reporter noted that there will be difficulties in managing expectations in the conversation.

To put it in layman-speak, the conversation will not shy away from slaughtering sacred cows, but it will not go on a Sacred Cow culling exercise. At the same time, we must manage the expectation that the National Conversation will be about making any and all changes demanded by the vocal majority (as opposed to the silent majority), some of whom may already expect that their views and ideas will result in radical changes or immediate action, and are ready to dismiss the National Conversation.

Now that we’ve dealt with this confusion, I would hope that the Government will take note of the phrases they should avoid, because the citizens have begun to associate these words with negative connotations or negative experiences.

(1) Manage expectations – enough said. Citizens do not want to be heard only to have their expectations managed, they want to be understood, and have solutions offered, even if such a solution is actually an exception to a policy that must be applied consistently across the board.

(2) Xenophobia – the citizens do not fear foreigners. They fear the loss of their jobs, career progression, salary increments, seats on buses and MRT trains and the way of life they have built up and served to protect (militarily and socially). I think we can just call this “anti-foreigner sentiment”.

(3) Foreign Talent – citizens do not see talented foreigners as key contributors to the economy any further. Foreign talents are now merely new immigrants who compete for space, jobs, housing, education and more. Citizens seem to think of “FT” as wage suppressors, alternative to Singaporean voters, and more. Let’s call a spade a spade – FTs are merely “locally-employed foreigners”.

(4) Engagement – citizens seem to think of this as “I talk, government listens, in one ear and out the other, and they decide on whatever they feel is right”. No need to re-word this term though, we should just work on engaging Singaporeans.

(5) Opposition – while the legal or traditional term of the non-ruling party might be the “opposition”, this term seems to imply that the Government is calling the other parties “opposition parties” as the ruling party is unwilling to work with alternative voices. Since we are able to coin “Uniquely Singaporean” terms on our own (think ‘Integrated Resort’, ‘foreign talent’, ‘group representative constituencies’ etc.) I think we can acknowledge that the opposition parties are merely “Non-ruling Parties”.

(6) Integration – Singaporeans want harmony, but they do not want to be integrated with locally-employed foreigners, new citizens or other non-NS contributing groups unless their interests are taken care of. While integration is key, we need to give Singaporeans sufficient resources and advantages to survive and thrive on the very land they grew up on, defended, built on, and lived on. Only when Singaporeans are less disadvantaged will we be able to fully integrate and harmonize Singaporean society.

Just my two cents worth.


– Posted 11 Sept 2012 on Temasek Times

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On immigration, foreigners and the country we love so much.

Foreigners are but humans from another land living next door to you.

Yes, we will not like the fact the proportion of locally-born Singaporeans is fast dwindling, and the people standing to your left and right speak a different language or at least with a different accent.

But the thing is this – we should stop looking at the differences between us and them, and getting ourselves all worked up. I have read the posts on socio-political websites, forums, blogs, Facebook pages and other platforms, and I find it shocking that Singaporeans are behaving this way.

We were raised to be an honest, hardworking and resilient population, that could stare adversity in the face and meet any challenge thrown at us. It was on this basis that our country grew, and we became a dignified and respectful society.

And yet our reactions, our words do not reflect the character of our people.

I am not pro-foreigner. I am pro-Singaporean, and a firm believer that Singaporeans must come first. I have served my National Service and so has my father. I was born and bred here, my favourite foods are all local, my closest friends are a mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian people.

But even then, being a Singaporean who faces the same competition as the rest of the private sector, it pains me to see my fellow countrymen referring to, addressing and discussing foreigners with words that should not come from a Singaporean’s mouth.

I for one, choose to look at the issues that we are facing – employment and employability, wages and income, standards of living, costs of living, an aging population, overcrowding and housing prices – and I prefer to look at the issues, constructively criticize where I feel it is necessary, and propose solutions.

As unhappy and as threatened as we may feel, we must think rationally and logically, and express our views respectfully. We owe ourselves that much – to not stoop to the very bowels of the monster we are fighting when addressing issues.

I will continue to pose questions openly, to answer and comment where I can, but I say this to my fellow Singaporeans – we are only human, but let us be dignified, civil humans.

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