Seriously. That’s why we can treat them like dirt.
You see right, when I saw the “We overreacted” headline in TODAYonline, I thought that the residents of Serangoon, having been living with the foreign workers in their neighbourhood for some time, have come to see that they are no more dangerous/dirty/immoral/smelly/unhygienic than non-foreign workers.
JK laughed at me.
Apparently, they overreacted because
they generally did not see the workers around the neighbourhood and were pleased that they had not encountered any problems with them.
It just makes me so angry with us Singaporeans. What kind of people are we that we think that the foreign workers should not be seen, that they should be segregated from us? What is wrong with all of you? They are people too and they have needs, wants and dreams as well. We need them to do all this work that no one wants to do but we treat them like dirt. They contribute to our economy and they have as much right as we do to benefit from it. They are not slaves. What gives us the right to oppress them like this?
This is precisely the problem in Singapore. Hardly anyone calls these xenophobic people out for their horribly prejudiced and hurtful behaviour and we all quietly support them with our silence.
What would it be like if we were to go to the States to work and we were considered second-class citizens? And when we are all shoved into a tiny corner of the city and people never actually see us, preferring to ignore our existence. And when we want to socialise and have some fun, they complain and shun us.
At the same time, JK showed me some complaints on a forum about maids in Singapore. Some excerpts:
secondly, does your maid Fast? now it is fasting month, first year when she just came, she asked me if she can puasar, i ask my agency, they say it is not necessary, reason being she need to work and regular meal at normal timing is necessary for them and to prevent it to disrupt their daily work. So i tell her no, and i explain to her, she agreed. This year (supposedly, contract going to end early next year, she insist on having puasar (eat at 4.30am and 7pm), giving a black face..haiz….i really don’t know what to do. Does your maid go on Puasar too?
Saw her standing outside the gate talking to other maid
(from another poster, emphasis mine) however, I asked my friends to my house for steamboat dinner on the actual day and one of my friends bring along her maid so they have each other for company…thats wat I think shd be happy for her and she shd be contented but…..wen its their dinner time, she showed patterns. My friend’s maid puasa during the fasting month and she totally dun eat pork whereby mine dun fast and she break the religion by having pork during CNY this year. SO….wen she knows that my friend maid wants to cook instant noodles and eat…she joined her bt actually we prepares her share of food.
Apparently, having friends and a social life is a luxury maids are not entitled to. And god forbid you want to practice your religion even if it should not impact your work. Maybe the maids are always so troublesome because they treat them like slaves? Like they are sub-humans who belong to us and should be able to do everything we expect of them.
We are such horrible people.
And their English sucks too.
SINGAPORE – Yes, we overreacted to the building of a dormitory for foreign workers in our estate, admitted more than half of the Serangoon Gardens residents interviewed by MediaCorp, but the issues raised were relevant and ultimately benefited the estate, they added.
More than 100 days after the Serangoon Gardens foreign workers’ dormitory opened – a move that had drawn sharp criticism from residents determined to protect their affluent haven – there has been no friction between residents and the workers.
In fact, residents told Media Corp reporters, who spent a day in the estate soliciting views, that they generally did not see the workers around the neighbourhood and were pleased that they had not encountered any problems with them.
Residents, such as teacher Jacqueline Loy, told MediaCorp that their concerns proved unfounded, thanks largely to how the entrances to the workers’ quarters have been designed. She pointed out that entrance to the dormitory was on the other side of the estate.
This point about workers being out of sight, and so out of mind, was made by several others interviewed. “The dormitory is all fenced up and blocked, so we don’t see them around,” said Mrs Janet Cheng. “I also don’t hear any complaints about the workers from my neighbours.”
In 2008, the Government announced plans to convert the former Serangoon Garden Technical School along Burghley Drive into a workers’ dormitory. This led to an outcry from residents.
To allay their concerns, the dormitory was fenced up and the exit to Serangoon Gardens estate was sealed. A 400m slip road, which cost $2 million, was also built to allow vehicles direct access to the dormitory from the Central Expressway.
There were, however, those who felt that the entire saga was not a complete overreaction.
“We may have overreacted a bit but if we did not complain, the dormitory entrance may not have changed,” said Ms Jenny Chan, 26.
Despite the current arrangements, there was still a handful who were unhappy about the choice of Serangoon Gardens for a workers’ dormitory. “There are other housing estates in Singapore, why was the dormitory not set up in other estates?” asked resident Karen Neo.
Member of Parliament for the area, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, told MediaCorp that one reason there had not been many problems was that residents had worked with volunteers who represented them and voiced their concerns. “If concerns about disamenities like traffic congestion were not surfaced by the residents initially, there might have been post-dorm operation issues,” she said.
Mrs Lim is also hoping to organise joint events to promote interaction and understanding between the residents and workers.
Workers living in the dormitory told MediaCorp that they had been told by the dormitory operator not to loiter around the estate.
While residents seem to have been placated – workers complained about the long walk to the dormitory entrance and the living conditions. Said waitress Mu Jing: “The decoration of the dormitory is very bare. The rooms are filled with steel beds.”
Ms Xia Yu, who works as a hotel housekeeper, said: “There are eight people living in a room, it can be quite cramped at times.”
The dormitory, which houses about 600 workers, has a provision shop, canteen and barber shop. But such no-frills accommodation is the norm, said a manager of another dormitory for foreign workers.
“The most important thing is that the basic necessities of a mini mart and canteen are met.”
Today, Apr 26, 2010