In Tolerance.

And when you thought my babies post was politically incorrect enough, here comes another one – my intolerance of foreigners in Singapore.

Yup, I’m going there.

Let’s set the scene properly first… place some boundaries, create a context.

I’m of mixed heritage – my father is Indian and my mother is Eurasian (which by Singaporean definition, means that she’s of European descent, in this instance, Portuguese). Ebony and Ivory made Cafe Au Lait. I am a third generation Singaporean and was educated in a convent school system. Which basically means my skirt was too short and all my friends were of different races and English is their first language. So, we all got along fine.

I like my foreigners like I like my shopping – sporadic and not in my neighbourhood. In recent times, however, there has been an influx of foreigners into Singapore. They have invaded and pervaded the heartlands (read: suburbs) and as a Singaporean, I can spot them from a mile away (usually from their very bad fashion) and I don’t like it. That’s right. I said it. I don’t like it.

When does tolerance get taken advantage of and when does intolerance become the norm?

Yes, yes, we all know that Singapore is an immigrant nation but that was eons ago and we’ve all learnt to play together. Socially binding a nation takes time, and time it took for us to reach to where we are. I am proud of my rigid nation, which disallows racial enclaves (due to race balloting for public housing) and bans the sale of chewing gum (goodbye to scraping gum off my shoe!). I believe in capital punishment (if you don’t like our laws, don’t come here with drugs lah!) and I strongly support not talking shit about my country, while you’re in it. If you don’t like Singapore, why stay here? Go home. Don’t stay here and whinge like a little white-man-burdened bitch about our strict laws, litigious government and boring country. If you write about the Singapore laws and then get sued for it – don’t you think you were a self-fufilling prophecy? Please go home to Britain and write about the flaws in your own country. There is no utopia and for as many flaws as you can point out in Singapore, I can do the same for your country. Shall we play that game?

UK author Shadrake going for the Nixon double "V"

Ok, I may have digressed a little.

My bias against foreigners, lacks bias. I don’t where you’re from  – just know your position. Play your position.

I lived for 3 years in Australia and I never enforced my “Asian-ness” on anyone. Instead, I worked amongst Australians and almost all of the friends that I made there were Australian. I did not clump up with other Singaporeans, while fervently slurping noodles. If you make the effort to move to another country, why the hell are you hanging out with the same damn people you get back home? Yet, this is happening here – the foreigners have set up exclusive communities here – only speak their own language and clique with their own people.

Excuse me, but you are in Singapore now… break that shit up.

Recognise that since you are physically in a different country, you should adjust your mental attitude and make an attempt to absorb that country’s culture. And this is across the board, whether you’re a rich white housewife living in Tanglin or a customer service specialist Pinoy living in Pasir Ris. Make an attempt. If you are going to be the exact same person and live the exact same life as you did in your mother country, go back! All this shows me is that you are a temporary guest with no real interest in my country. You are not willing to immerse yourself or change. You want a “better” life but you are not willing to sacrifice anything for it.

And for my dear government: take it easy on the influx, will you? I can barely fit on the train anymore.

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5 Replies to “In Tolerance.”

  1. I know what you mean about not liking foreigners moan about the country they are staying in. I live in London and enjoy the cosmopolitan nature, with such a mixture of different people and cultures. However, it always bugs me when people moan about London or the UK.

    I went on this dire blind date (whole other story) with this Aussie chic who told me within 30 seconds of meeting her that she hated London and Londoners. If you don’t like it, no one is forcing you to be here!

    So Noelle, if some of my countrymen are moaning about Singapore, I apologise most sincerely.

    With regards to Alan Shadrake and his book, it does bring up a slightly deeper issues than just not liking a certain law or the weather or the culture. Some issues in the world I think can be fairly considered human rights issues and should be allowed to be commented on.

    The death penalty is a controversial topic and freedom of speech is something most civilised nations are proud about. If people don’t like it then they don’t have to live there, but where does the line end? Taking an extreme example, can an evil dictator commit genocide and tell the rest of the world, “well they don’t have to live here, they can go somewhere else if they don’t like it”.

    If Alan Shadrake was Singaporean rather than a moaning Brit, would it make a difference? If you don’t like it, then don’t buy his book?

  2. I definitely agree with you – when the Shadrake story first broke, I sympathised with him and felt embarrassed that Singapore was acting like a 3rd-world dictator. I berated our lack of freedom of speech etc… Basically, did the whole human rights thing – write anything you want – since it’s not directly expressed to me – you’re right, I can choose not to read it (although you should know the book is banned in Singapore! :D) And of course, as you know, Singapore is definitely not practicing genocide.

    Then, however, Shadrake hit us with a whopper of a quote:

    “I didn’t do this to chicken out, say sorry and grovel to them like Singaporeans mostly have to do to lead a normal life.”

    Err…. hello?? Singaporeans like me? Like my parents? Like my friends? Which groveling Singaporeans might he be referencing?

    He lost my pity vote.

    Although, Singapore does need to chill out on the criminal defamation laws. It’s just words, ain’t it?

    p.s. I want the blind date story!

  3. hang shadrake. now thats a story. These so called liberal lions of the western AND eastern world (we have many here in Singapore )who think we are forced into this life that they deem bad, that we vote for our government because we dont know any better. Well let me tell you something and man its a shocker. We vote them in because we want life this way, the vast majority of singaporeas dont want this abstract freedom of speach thing, we dont care that we cant buy chewing gum or hang murderers who pedal drugs. (by the way i am not a fan of the death penalty) We want this system and everytime there is an election we vote the system we have in not because its the best NO, we do it because its what we want it. almost 27% of the voting population voted against it the last round but the VAST majority went for what we have. We are not perfect but then again neither is anyone else. If your a singaporean and dont like it, vote. if your not a Singaporean and dont like it, we have a lovely airport they say its the worlds best i suggest you use it and fly back to your county where everyone is safe and the ooompa loompas spread cheer and joy. godspeed and have a nice flight.

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