Singapore is Most Welcoming Developed Economy with its Population Comprising 40% Foreigners!
Since when is online ranting considered credible evidence of xenophobia?
Still, this is what The Straits Times did today when it gave space in its op-ed pages to an Indian living here, Sourav Roy, to write about how he was a victim of online hate following which some Singaporeans rallied behind him, even welcoming his family to their homes for the Chinese New Year.
Where is xenophobia here? Given the recent spate of articles in The Straits Times about how Singapore was becoming a big loser because of immigration controls, it does give rise to suspicions regarding its motives. I hope it is not a plant.
Is it part of a calculated campaign to make Singaporeans fall in line with the government’s plans, right or wrong? Or is it a well-intentioned strategy to ensure that xenophobia does not rear its head here?
This is the second piece from the writer talking about himself in eight days. They were not reader letters, but Op-Ed pieces.
Online Vituperation Hardly Poses Serious Threat: Aren’t foreigners living in peace and thriving here? Aren’t they able to enjoy all perks here, without any hint of open and real hatred (I am not referring to online vituperation) against them when foreigners in their own countries of origin face public harassment.
If at all anything can disturb that peace it can only be if the flood of foreigners streaming into the country continues unabated?
Online chat rooms and news portals are notorious for hate comments, with writers hiding behind anonymity in sheer acts of cowardice, the world over. That cannot be considered representative of majority opinion.
Where is xenophobia in Singapore, The Straits Times? The report may not openly say it, but the hint is inescapable.
Better, Safer Internet: Of course, a civil behaviour by Netizens is ideal. An Internet where dissent is expressed without any disrespect for anyone, where free speech is exercised in a constructive fashion!
That it is not goes without question! That is why we have a portal to promote a safe, decent Internet – http://betterinternet.sg/ This year it was held on February 10. Some imaginative campaigns are also run on television for the building of a safer Internet.
In fact, for well over a decade the second Tuesday of every February is observed as Safer Internet Day.
Singapore is not there yet largely because free speech has its pitfalls in the country. No one, after all, would want to fall on the wrong side of the Government and risk becoming a bankrupt!
Not Responsible Reporting: But Singaporeans are an educated lot and hardly indulge in behaviour that can disrupt harmony in society. Using some online ranting as an excuse to apply the xenophobia tag on Singaporeans is not responsible reporting by the media.
One just needs to check out the news portals to see how much hate is prevalent in India against its own citizens not belonging to the majority faith.
From Australia to the U.S., I have experienced racist behaviour though I was not there to take away any of their jobs. The not-so-lucky ones in those countries have lost their lives or been left paralysed. Let me get to that later.
Singapore Population is made up of 40% Foreigners: Singapore has a population of around 5.5 million people and 40% of them are foreigners. This is way higher than developed economies such as the U.S., the U.K. and Australia though by sheer virtue of their size and thin population they could afford to take in more foreigners.
Where is xenophobia here? If Singaporeans were xenophobic how could they have been so welcoming in the face of the massive influx of foreigners seen over the years?
Racism and Xenophobia Deep in West: In fact, even in the U.S. where illegal immigration is a menace, foreigners make up for only 20% of the population.
Racism and xenophobia are very deep in the country where periodically we see instances of Hindu temples and mosques being desecrated with the words, “Get out”, plastered on their walls. One such incident even happened this week.
Cops Attack, Paralyse Indian Grandfather: Last week, an elderly Indian was brutally attacked by cops in Alabama without any provocation just because he was taking a walk along the road he was residing. The attack has left the grandfather paralysed.
The police reached the spot after a neighbour called them saying that “a skinny, black man was walking on the sidewalk”. The cops came and straightaway pounced on the old man who could not speak English. He had been in the US for only two weeks, visiting his son who works there. So, both the cops and the neighbour behaved in a viciously racist manner.
Here is a video that shows the assault – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWQa4e6Lm8Q
After protests by India, the U.S. has started investigations, remaining reluctant to call it a hate crime by the cops.
Also, have we forgotten the white American supremacist organisation, Ku Klux Klan, that at one time is reported to have had four million members. It is losing clout now but has indulged in open hate activities.
India is not above board, too! It is a country where those in the North having hatred for South Indians is no secret.
Australian Missionary, Two Kids Burnt Alive: There was even a horrifying instance in 1999 in Orissa (Odisha) where an Australian missionary, Dr Graham Staines, was burnt alive along with his two sons aged 10 years and six years respectively by a Hindu militant gang.
The three were sleeping in a van when the gang set it on fire. The gang even prevented the three from getting out of the van. How more cruel can a hate crime get?
Dr Staines had been working in Odisha since 1965 among the tribal poor serving people affected by leprosy. Only one of those involved in the savage attack was sentenced to life in jail, the rest were let off as innocents.
Instances such as this are not uncommon there, more so with the BJP’s Mr Narendra Modi as Prime Minister now. It was under his regime in Gujarat that about 1000 Muslims were killed in Gujarat in 2002.
Definition of Xenophobia: When there is so much hatred the world over, attributing the online rant to xenophobia among generally peaceful and welcoming Singapore is iniquitous, even wicked! And when a newspaper that is almost like a government arm does so, it becomes even more abhorrent!
Before I close this post, for the benefit of The Straits Times, I would like to present here the real meaning of xenophobia.
When there is deep-seated hostility or hatred towards foreigners, that can be seen as the prevalence of xenophobia in a society.
To the Cambridge dictionary, xenophobia is extreme dislike or fear of foreigners, their customs and their religions. The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy calls it “an unreasonable fear, distrust, or hatred of strangers, foreigners.”
G Joslin Vethakumar