Former Straits Times journalist, Siva Govindasamy, reacting on Gee Siva! to objections expressed by Singaporeans living in Serangoon Gardens about having a dormitory for foreign workers located there, 7 September 2008:
"Stereotypes are well and truly alive in this modern multi-ethnic metropolis. We want our own space and are selective about which foreigners will be allowed into it, making a serious dent in the attempts to evolve into a tolerant multi-cultural society."
1. I have observed from time to time that Singaporeans are becoming increasingly intolerant in some ways. The angst that some Singaporeans express when foreigners move into their respective neighbourhoods, especially those issued work permits, is one example of this.
2. I have lived for the past decade in a neighbourhood with many foreigners, Taman Jurong in Singapore.
3. The presence of these foreigners has brought its own inherent opportunities and challenges. Efforts have been made to integrate both Singaporean and non-Singaporean communities. Community events that see the attendance of both these groups are a norm. The joint numbers have also helped some shops in the neighbourhood stay in the black. To allay residents' concerns about crime, there is also a visible police presence.
4. On balance, I would say it has made a neighbourhood that was once ignored as the appendix of Jurong a more vibrant and diverse place to live in.
5. Looking at the objections raised by the residents of Serangoon Gardens, which Siva has rebutted point-by-point, I would submit that the residents are just being selfish. It only reflects a Singaporean mentality that has become too used in looking to the Government for solutions to the extent of being pragmatically insensitive. We can be more accepting of differences in our society.
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