The loudest saga is finally over. The Singapore government has decided to scale down the size of the foreign worker dormitory in Serangoon Gardens, from 1,000-pax capacity to 600. It has also taken into account some of the residents’ request.
What made me rolled my eyes in disbelief is some of the requests that were submitted by residents. Here are some of the requests as quoted word-per-word from The Straits Times Oct 17, p. A3, with my comments:
The government has said YES to:
Growing trees and shrubs near the dorms access road to block the sight of the street from surrounding houses
I have nothing against trees and shrubs. The greener, the better. But the reason for making this request indicates that “yes, foreign workers can stay here. But we don’t want to see them. Please hide them from our eyesight.”
No mass gatherings or activities after 10:30pm
I have nothing against this principle. But I think the same rule should be imposed on the Singaporean residents in the area … I have known certain Singaporeans who host dinner or mahjong parties late into the night, using public roads as a car park for their guests while there are clearly “no parking” marks on the side street. At least the dorm will have its own parking area for their vehicles ….
To minimize traffic jams, the Ministry of National Development will work with the dormitory operator to arrange for buses to pick up and drop off workers within the dorm’s premises
I have nothing against this. Pickup and drop off indeed should be done within a complex, not on public side streets.
The operator of the dormitory will provide amenities, such as a mini-mart and laundry room, so that the workers will not have to venture out into the community to use those facilities
Unbelievable! This is downright selfishness, or worse … classism. While I agree that a large dormitory should be equipped with amenities, the fact that residents requested the workers NOT TO VENTURE OUT INTO THE COMMUNITY TO FIND SUITABLE AMENITIES is just incredible! What if the workers don’t like the food provided in their in-house canteen? What if the laundry facility outside of their complex is cheaper? What if their in-house mini mart doesn’t have the things that they need to buy? We can’t deny their rights for price comparison and choice!
And this request would only hurt local businesses, already impacted by the economic downturn. If the workers indeed cannot venture out into the community, local businesses will not get a single benefit from 600 additional residents.
If the residents really want to impose this rule on the foreign workers, what about testing this rule amongst the Serangoon Garden residents themselves for three months, where they can only go to one mini mart (which may not sell your favorite cigarette / instant noodle / biscuit / tissue brand), one laundry mart, and five closest eating houses that sell exactly the same thing every single day? See how that feels …
I am glad that this issue actually came up in the media … it forces many Singaporeans to really confront the issue of living in harmony and classism, where in one hand many selfish people finally came up to the surface while on the other hand we can start seeing that there are good-hearted Singaporeans too.
I hope some people actually keep an archive of the newspaper clips on this issue, and some decades later, we could hear Singaporean kids / teenagers commenting, “I can’t believe Singaporeans said this about foreign workers in the early 2000s!”
* Check also: Foreign Workers: Not in My Backyard!