Thursday, March 12, 2015

We Were Immigrants Too

Whenever I post something about economics (politics, same same), I am aware that my post might get me a lot of flack like previous posts I wrote, but screw it. This is just my opinion, whether you like it or not. 

This video appeared on my newsfeed with the title, "Italians Thank Sikhs for Saving the Economy".

Curious about how foreigners have assimilated into a country with a completely different culture, I clicked on the video and watched it.

Within the video, you can see an interesting issue cropping up. The community has grown so large that they cannot be casually ignored anymore. The second generation of the Sikhs are grown up and many are attending the universities. It is unlikely that they will continue doing the farm work that their fathers are doing. Just like the Italians before them that got educated and left farm work in search of better jobs, there is a concern that the second generation of Sikhs will do the same. Not only will there be a shortage of labour to work the farms, but also competition by the Sikhs for other jobs.

The parallels to the Singapore economy and our migrant workforce was in the back of my mind the entire time while watching the video, and it is uncanny.

In my opinion, I think Singapore is in a much more advanced state than where the Sikhs in Italy are in the video. We have many more immigrants than in the past, and they now come from many other places compared to the traditional countries we are used to. Their children have grown up too and have been brought up alongside ourselves. We are well past the point where you can point at random people on the street and assume that they are Singaporean.

This video reminded me of a post I saw on SMRT (Feedback) which I quite identify with.

The question is legitimate: What maketh a Singaporean?

Some might say it is a distinct brand of culture, which is how we can tell apart Singapore Chinese from China Chinese, Singapore Malays from Malaysia Malays, Singapore Indians from India Indians and Singapore Ang Mohs from Ang Moh Ang Mohs.

So clearly, it isn't about race. It is not about being a certain type of Chinese, Malay, Indian or Eurasian.

I have heard a few people characterize Singapore Standard English (NOT Singlish, but the English we try to speak when we talk to Ang Moh Ang Mohs) by the lack of a distinctive accent. Isn't that interesting? While other types of English are characterized by specific, stereotypical accents like British, Scottish, Australian, French, the typical characterization of the accent that Singapore English has is the lack of it.

Perhaps rather than looking for a specific anchor or set of characteristics to define us as Singaporeans, the thing that might define us is the lack of any anchor. We are free to bend and adapt, come what may.

Our forefathers had the ability to mix, match and accept. It was all about being tolerant and accepting of different cultures, different ways of life, and not feeling threatened that your own culture will be lost or forgotten.

Do you feel that Malays are trying to convert you to follow their customs and culture? Do you feel threatened that your hawker centre has an Indian food stall? Do you feel that the Chinese has gone too far with their back-to-back double public holidays? Do you think that having massive amounts of Christmas trees in Orchard Road is a conspiracy to convert everyone to Christianity?

From young we have been taught (and well taught I might add) to accept and embrace the major representations of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian cultures into our society. But how is this any different from accepting the new wave of immigrants from other places of the world? It is not in our Social Studies textbook, so we don't know how to do it?

I strongly believe that Singapore has many things going its way if it plans to become a truly diverse and global city-state, but the one thing holding us back is the immense wall named "Xenophobia" that many locals have banded together to build. It seems that many have failed to recognize the signs that these immigrants carry, which reads "This is what your grandfather looked like 60 years ago".

I think we need to progress and advance our thinking beyond the "Singapore for Singaporeans" mindset and instead adopt a "Singapore - We were all immigrants once too" mindset. (last few paragraphs)

The world changes, whether we like or not. Whether we can adapt to those changes and benefit from them in the future, that is the question we should be thinking about.

I don't feel like getting into a heated debate or argument with anyone on this topic because I am too lazy and tired. I'm not trying to change the world, one blog post at a time, trust me. I'm just thinking outloud. They might be stupid thoughts, but hey, this is my blog, not yours. Comment if you want, but stick to the house rules.


  1. the first batch were migrant but they were here to start a new life from scratch - out of nothing.
    how is that even comparable?
    were these people here when this place was a kampung?
    were these people here when we only had raffles place?
    back then when a diploma holder is only paid $800, where were they? all eyeing for the green card!
    every citizen contributed to the singapore brand, united as one to build the nation, we believe in hope and future, we come together and sing the patriotic songs, and now as a developed nation, the diploma pay now is over 2k.
    were they here before? no, they took the shortcut, harvested our fruits of success, leapfrog many other undeserving and deserving ones.
    and did they bother to clear the mess in their own backyard, no, they went straight for the exit.

    oh boy the final question, were they grateful??? YOU BET THEY ARE!!!
    yup we are just xenophobic, because we have people sitting on pavement meant for walking in our shopping belt, we have people flipping police cars instead of pratas, we have tons of white collars being given away bcos no local wants to take them up.

    "xenophobic" the one word to shut us all up. period.

    1. Is a converted Singaporean from Malaysia, China, India, Philippines or any other country any less Singaporean than those born with a citizenship? Or do only their children get to labelled "real" Singaporeans?

      So the first people off the boat were the real pioneers. What about the next batch? Or the batch after that? At which point do you draw the the cutoff from "real" pioneers to "fake" pioneers?

      Why should they bother to clear the mess at home? Many were born into such places, they did not choose to live there, that is why they left when they could. To leave for somewhere better. Singapore might not be a kampung anymore, but they are coming here and starting a new life from scratch - out of nothing.

      Is it wrong to want more pay, better job opportunities, a better life, a higher standard of living? Or are these things only reserved for locals?

      If you immigrants shouldn't leave their own countries, do you also think that Singaporeans should not leave Singapore for other opportunities elsewhere? Are we also supposed to sit, live and die where we are born?

      Where we are born says nothing about how we should live, or where we should die. Unless you don't think that people should have social mobility? The rich stay rich, the poor stay poor?

      Chinese people should stay in China? Indian people should stay in India? Then what about our forefathers? Should they have stayed to "clear the mess in their own backyard" or did our forefathers "go straight for the exit" as well?

  2. once a slut, lifetime a slut.
    a slut will never be a ingenue.
    they will go back to the f hole they came from when they are done.

    do you know how many of these immigrants risk their lives to come to this southern island?
    how many died while enroute to this island?
    are you comparing apple to apple? pardon me, but you seem lacking understanding in many areas.

    how is 15 years of solid education in SG similar to dodgy education system in these rural places?
    the exact thing they are selling us now that qualification is not important, is that because they have started to discover many unqualified professionals have leak through and are amongst us now?

    how is the price paid for a education in a third world equivalent to a first world in terms of quality and monetary sense?
    you like doing valuation? a pig fed with swill is never going to fetch the same price with the pig fed with grains.

    instead of fixing the real problem which lies with fertility, we are taking the shortcut and going for the unsustainable model towards destroying our core.
    how is that not similar to using another shithole to fix an existing shithole?
    Similar to a dish, when you put too many ingredient into a single dish, it loses its original flavor and become rojak. over introduction of FT causes social divide and greater problem we can yet see, are there any other developed country in this world that has such high penetration rate without much social problem?

    if you want to start something out of nothing, you can do it anywhere? why singapore?
    the reason is simple, you are right, here for greed!
    but that is still okay, everyone is greedy right? but are these ppl grateful at this point?
    how do they repay the locals here?
    pushing locals out of competition? discrimination in hiring practices?

    how is the successful country built up by it's local suddenly becoming useless, lazy, talent lacking and xenophobic overnight?
    sounds like a big conspiracy for the rich to drive the locals out.
    "The silly donkeys have built up this nice place, my backyard is in a mess now, I now have the financial muscle to do anything and make every impossible possible - even admitting that low intellect son to a top college."

    Giving priority to people who wants to work doesn't seems too bad now right, aren't we promoting meritocracy?

    do you know why this world started with a few continents and not just one?
    so the african stay in africa, indian in india, chinese in china.
    simple enough but true right?

    1. Maybe you need to compare apples with apples, pardon me.

      So once a Chinese, always a Chinese? All Chinese people that came to Singapore will go back to China when they are done? Indian people should go back to India? Hmm..... I wonder why our forefathers didn't do that.

      Q: "but that is still okay, everyone is greedy right? but are these ppl grateful at this point?"
      A: "oh boy the final question, were they grateful??? YOU BET THEY ARE!!!" (your previous post)

      Meritocracy has nothing to do with how much you want something, it's about rewarding those with talents or skill. The world doesn't revolve on how much you want something.

      The world did not start with a few continents (Pangea), but even if it did, are you saying that Singapore is a freak country, since other than the indigenous people here, everyone else should not be here? That seems to be what you are saying. Simple enough, but true right?

  3. have answered your own question. that marks the differences between the first batches of immigrants and the current cotton candy immigrants.
    they risk their lives to come here to work at the dock as coolie, not the easy ones. hello?
    yeah sure, at the end of the day, it's easy to push the blame and say they are unwelcomed here.

    it's a term that is widely abused, how do you define merit?
    do you know why it is hire on merit and not hire on distinction?
    meritocracy should be applied internally, and when all means are exhausted then source elsewhere.
    is that a difficult thing to do and ask for?
    how is that not related to someone who desperately needs a job to feed his family?

    if you are going that far, might as well discuss how the world started off? big bang theory? clockwork universe? grandfather paradox? dinosaurs?
    you seem to miss the main point and many others I have pointed out - that I hope for the locals to be taken care of first ( at least to cover those who are willing to put in effort ).

    how do you help others, when you are not well to do yourself?

    1. Hi Anon,

      I'm very tired arguing with you.

      Clearly you think that the government should protect Singaporeans and favour them in the job market.

      I do not think so. However, I do think the government should pamper citizens so that the rest of people living here can see the benefits and awesomeness of being Singaporean, but it should not interfere with the private job market.

      Tax reliefs, tax rebates, GST vouchers, CPF top-ups, Pioneer Generation cards for all citizen, Baby bonus, whatever. Just don't interfere with the private job market.

      I think a competitive labour force (comprised of all nationalities) is necessary for a strong and resilient local economy. You do not.

      So to summarize: Yes I obviously know that you think locals should be given preferential treatment in the job market. I do not. It doesn't matter what you say, you are not going to convince me. No matter what I say, I will not convince you. I am not trying to. I don't want to. You can think whatever you want, I'm totally fine with that. I don't really care.

      But please stop trying to convert me to adopt and follow your set of beliefs.


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