Almost regular musings of a (somewhat confused) graphic designer.

Archive for the tag “Singaporeans”

Blurred Lines Pt 1

I remember as a child, my first memory of the white man is really that burly guy with the dark suit sweating profusely at the back of my dad’s Nissan U13 Bluebird back in the late 80s whilst laughing at my dad’s Singaporean jokes. Then occasionally my dad would bring home goodies from the “Mat Salleh”…. like key rings from the US, or if I’m lucky, a REAL dollar bill. I was that Singaporean child, with the bangs just grinning and nodding at towering white men in business suits asking me in their accents, “How do you do?” extending their huge sweaty palm out to shake my tiny Asian hand.

Then there were those occasions where I would show up prepared with my drawing pad and crayons in my Cookie Monster backpack. Sprawled on the carpet lobby of the Shangri-La Hotel, or the Marina Mandarin, I would be busy drawing and colouring away, whilst my dad waits for his guest, talking to the fellow Singaporean doorman. A curious head with a huge straw hat on it leers close to my artwork telling me ‘how lovely’ my drawing was. I look up to a warm, freckled European face with a coffee stained grin who wanted to take a picture of it using her Konika camera. Her husband, another burly guy with the same printed shirt – in fact everyone lounging at the hotel lobby had those same type of “touristy” printed shirt with the shades and the straw hats. I had a good bargain with the white lobby tourists whom were chatting away whilst smoking their cigarettes and waiting for their tour coach to pick them up. I’d exchange one of my “nice drawings” for a piece of foreign chocolate candy. When bored, I’d fascinate myself by running my fingers thru those white marble grains atop the dustbins meant for extinguishing cigarettes. The idea of unhygienic absolutely didn’t occur to me.

And then a couple of years went by, and it was finally time for me to go to school. Done were those days of lounging with white tourists and exchanging sweets for crayon Merlions over the weekends. Weekends were then spent learning spelling and going to art classes. Weekends were spent with mum buying new pairs of shoes and socks – yes we were growing up. Weekends were spent making sure the homework was finished. And occasionally dad would bring us out for a drive to the outskirts of forested Singapore. And I never saw those straw hat wearing ‘ang mohs’ again.


Quantity vs Quality

Recently a piece of paper has been causing much uproar around this tiny nation.
If you have been following the news, you would know what I am talking about.
Just about three weeks ago, the Singapore Government released the White Paper on Population.
It initiated with a local news headline, “Population projected at 6.9m by 2030 with strong Singaporean core. – CNA”. I could only picture the unison crescendo of gasps coming from any Singaporean that read it that morning. This release came just after the Punggol East By-Election in which the PAP candidate lost to the WP candidate by 3182 votes. Find out more about the White Paper here.

My first reaction to that headline was a totally “WTF?!” moment. Um, seriously HOW could we possibly fit in a target of 6.9m in this piece of land 710km2???

The answer was apparently, amidst all the angry voices was that the 6.9m was NOT the target to reach but a projection like how the ST vehemently reported. To many people, projection or target, what’s the difference am I right? I’m basically disappointed at the way ST has worded their article on this issue. Clearly it supports the government’s plans but with many vital points missing. The ST reports, just echoes that of the government without maintaining a neutral stand. I could imagine the chief editor waiting for the final nod of approval before publishing news articles about local politics and the government per se.

Lively debate on benefits and dangers of WP’s PWP plan. – ST, Feb 06 2013
For a long time now, I stopped reading ST. I just felt that I have wasted minutes of my life reading a bunch of words that would in the end make me go, ‘huh?’

After the lost in the recent by-elections, the PM said that his party lacked 20/20 vision. So they would try harder.
Not long after, they decided to call out a in my opinion, an unthinkable measure by increasing the population to a projected 6.9m. How is this actually going to improve the current lack in 20/20 vision? Right now there are eminent issues. The income gap is SO BIG, it’s actually obvious enough to see. It would help if more Singaporeans are willing and upfront about their woes. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. And these are real issues right now that need to be addressed ASAP. In a span of 6 years, I’ve basically noticed the change in demographics. In 6 years that is a very rapid change, it’s even more irksome because the country is small.

If taxes are high here too, we might possibly enjoy a better standard of living. Having better welfare especially for our aging population. A better work-life balance. That’s what’s LACKING IN SINGAPORE. We don’t need a world-class airport or a world-class transportation. What people need is security in all form. The fear of a pregnant mum that she might lose her job to a 3rd-world foreigner who’s ever ready to take over her job for much more lower wages. The fear of people not being able to earn enough wages to sustain themselves in future as MORE and MORE people are brought in ultimately driving property prices up and wages are low. How would families want to have more children then? That’s fear.

Many Singaporeans have no problem with immigration OR foreigners. But it becomes a problem when it’s overloaded. Take a look at the country if you have been there. And ask yourself if there is actually space to move around. When I come across job positions that have been filled up my foreigners, I wonder why a Singaporean can’t take up that job position and most likely the reason behind it is the pay package isn’t attractive enough or that it’s too much work for too little pay. High cost of living, flats that are expensive to pay, looking after their elderly, having some savings for themselves, other expenses such as medical and utilities bills, provisions for marriage or future children. A job that is pegged at a low wage rate of $5 – $6 per hour, and no prospects of wages increasing, how could we achieve quality living? These are just some of woes that many of the middle class Singaporeans face.

Most people from 3rd world countries have no hesitation to move to Singapore and sing praises of her, because it’s no denying that Singapore is basically a much better platform for them to grow, as compared to the poverty and the incompetence of their policymakers back in their own homelands. It’s also no denying that these people have flocked here seeking a better life. As much as I think that is fair if you look at it comparatively, because more than likely, this standard of living here would be BETTER for them, then what about the citizens who are already here throughout 2-3 generations? Where are they going to run off to for a better quality of living?

Nearly 5000 Singaporeans turned up at the protest against the PWP.

Nearly 5000 Singaporeans turned up at the protest against the PWP in Hong Lim Park on February 16 2013.

As much as I understand the need by the government to address the need to increase our birth-rate. I do feel that they should start to listen to the people more from now on. Why are people hesitating to have more babies? Why are couples marrying later? Importing foreigners more and more to replace low-birth rates is not the answer, in the end we’ll only end up with a Singapore with a lost identity that is all work and no play.

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