Perspective Unlimited

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Putting Singaporeans First

Five years ago, if someone were to suggest to me that Singaporeans should always come first, whether with regard to housing, healthcare or education, I would have agreed readily. But as you can tell from my recent posts, I have become more skeptical about these "Put Singaporeans First" instincts.

Back in the 1980s, faced with competitive pressures from Japan, there was also a 'Buy America' campaign. Today, 'Buy America' is probably targeted at cheap Chinese imports. But to those of us who are beginning to understand how inter-connected the world is, such efforts are looking increasingly futile, and are in fact detrimental to the people they are supposed to benefit. It became somewhat of a joke when it latter transpired that many made in America products in fact had foreign components.

Looking beyond goods and services, globalisation has also resulted in greater movement of people from their countries of birth. Immigration and emigration are on the rise everywhere. I mentioned before that 1 in 10 British nationals actually live overseas even as Britain experiences large scale immigration.

Singapore, being a global city-state, is not immune to these forces. I dare say that on the whole, we have benefitted greatly from it. We have many non-citizens (permanent residents, permit holders) working here for large parts of their lives. Many are becoming as Singaporean as you or I. Similarly, there are many Singaporeans working, studying, living overseas for an extended period of time. I am a Singaporean, but I do receive some British welfare benefits because I am studying here.

With the influx of non-locally born students or working professionals to Singapore, competitive pressure inevitably arises - as is reflected in rising rents, house prices, transport congestion or university places. Faced with competitive pressure, the natural instinct is to adopt a 'Put Singaporeans First' mentality. There are also those in Britain demanding that welfare for foreigners be cut, and that British citizens should come first.

Why should we worry about putting citizens before every one else? Firstly, it has become increasingly difficult to meaningfully categorise people into citizens and non-citizens based on the passports they hold, and conduct redistribution policies that way. For example, many permanent residents have lived in and contributed to Singapore for decades. Many have Singaporean spouses and Singaporean children.

Secondly, even if we give the Singaporean priority to everything, healthcare, university education and what not, he or she could easily emigrate to another country after consuming all the benefits (ah big beautiful house and nice lifestyle in Australia). Being open and free means that citizens can easily pack up and leave. The fact that one has to be a Singaporean citizen at the point of consuming taxpayer-funded benefits does not guarantee that it will be taxpayers' money well-spent. Who is a taxpayer? Foreigners who work here pay taxes too, GST if not income taxes.

Though it has become a cliche to say that the world has become more open and borders more porous, we still have not really accepted this at the emotional level. Many of you will no doubt disagree with me on this and believe that we citizens should always come first. But I hope to convince you at least that old comfortable assumptions we have will not always hold today.

41 Comments:

  • So rather than wasting time pontificating over your well thought out post, let's put forth this simple question to you: what does it mean for you to be a Singaporean?

    And while we are at it, let's add this: what do you think it means for your fellow Singaporeans (in Singapore), to be Singaporean?

    And a last one: Do you think that what it means to be a Singaporean for you should equally apply to other Singaporeans without favour?

    Cheers!

    By Anonymous ted, at 12:11 pm  

  • Bart,

    The KTM disagrees with your thesis.

    The Government must always put Singaporeans first. Perhaps the KTM is being stupid, but the Government is supposed to be "by the people for the people".

    Those who are on the centre-right can argue against protectism for economic reasons, BUT at the end of the day, the reason for doing so is not so that it's fairer for the foreigners, it is because protectism is shortsighted and will eventually hurt the very people it is trying to protect -- and the people you are trying to protect are NOT the foreigner my dear.

    The truth is, many Singaporeans make poor parents. Not because they don't care enough for their children, but because they care too much. While we can argue that we should cut the child loose that that he/she can learn to fend for him/herself, it doesn't mean that if the kid falls into a pool and starts to drown, we leave him/her to drown.

    If the situation should arise where there are two kids (one Singaporean and one foreigner) in the pool and both are drowning and you can only save one, there is no shame in saving the Singaporean first.

    By Blogger kwayteowman, at 12:19 pm  

  • As far as benefits are concerned, I favour treating everyone the same so long as they contribute to Singapore. I lean on the UK approach, once you are here as a member of society, we try to treat you the same regardless of passport.

    I leave it to the individual to decide what it means to be a Singaporean. I choose to be Singaporean because I like it, it is worth my while, my friends there, my family there, my memories, my social capital.

    If two children are drowning, one Singaporean and one foreigner, I will save the one whom I have the best chance of saving. A life means the same to me. If only the probability of saving both is the same ceteris paribus, I might use nationality as a tie breaker and favour the Sporean child.

    By Blogger Bart JP, at 12:39 pm  

  • I generally agree with the points that you've made. Foreigners, as you have argued, pay taxes and contribute to the society too. If we were to embrace the concept of globalization, citizens and non-citizens should be given equal rights and this would indeed facilitate movement in and out of Singapore.

    However, even as "the world has become more open and borders more porous", there is still a considerable level of protectionism existing in other countries. So if Singapore were to become totally porous before the rest of the world, Singaporeans hypothetically might potentially lose out. (Because foreigners get a level playing field here, while still maintaining an advantage in his/her homeland.)

    Also, you must recognize the thorny issue of National Service. The counter-argument is that the sons of foreigners might end up serving NS but I don't think many like the idea of letting the 1st generation "benefit without any strings attached."

    I guess in the end, it's really a selfish motivation to ensure that the current generation is not getting the shorter end of the stick.

    What might be beneficial for the country in the long run, might not necessarily benefit the existing generation immediately.

    (Don't mind my inane banter. :p )

    By Blogger Kelvin Lim, at 1:57 pm  

  • No Kelvin, I understand what you say, you banter is not inane. It is the dilemma we all feel.

    By Blogger Bart JP, at 2:00 pm  

  • Bart,
    you are getting very irrational. If that's the case, why not foreigner be allow to vote for election and force to go NS if they are to treat equally the same as local ?

    Telling us it is for good of nation that we need NS if the gov themselves tell us story of globalization and how gov no longer can take care of us. By going NS, we taking care of gov by protecting them than the country. It is no surprise that LKY=PAP=Singapore that even a police officier reveal during the Dr Chee's trial ? So are we protecting LKY's empire or our country.

    I do not know what kind of economic study you did that tell you to put foreigner before local. Have it been in other countries, our Men-In-White might have been overthrown in disgrace.

    Ask yourself which country beside Singapore have this type of privilege that is openly overly-supportive of foreigner that is norm rather than exception ?

    The only thing that is happened is that Singapore is been managed as corporation where there is no loyalty of employee. Then what the fu@$@ck am I serving NS.

    Bart, a question to ask you. Do you ever want to work for free or underpaid for a corporation ?
    If no, why should we when Singapore is run as corporation ?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:36 pm  

  • The author of this article do makes some very good points here. The partition of citizen and non citizen towards benefit seems very misleading. For example, I could be "good" permanent resident of Singapore staying for 15 years paying the taxes, contributing towards the nation and yet miss out many of the benefits accorded to citizen like many rebates, subsidise etc,for citizens only. A noncitizen from third world (or any country) can just tommorrow apply for citizenship and just get it and immediately benefited from subsidised housing, rebates ,list of government subsidises etc.If we are just looking classification of citizenship , I guess many PRs are just unlucky that they have contributed for many years and sons need to serve "NS" as well Compare to say an instant converted citizen which will immediate entitled all the benefits accorded to the term call "singapore citizen" .And this person may have just come in three months from somewhere with a job here.These days many can easily become citizens.The criteria is not as stringent says 15 years ago where even to get a PR is damned difficult.Really I think a much fairer way to classified benefits and right to university is by how much taxes you pay over the years while you are in Singapore rather than the colour of your ICs/passport. Many sources have review that foreign scholars are easily given citizenship before they even serve Singapore.I personally know of a lady working in a Polytechnic for one year and granted citizenship bought a HDB and getting the rebates. Many PRs are here for n years and getting zero rebates.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:39 pm  

  • To anon at 3:39pm,

    If you are a 'good' PR paying taxes and all for 15 years already, I would think that you most likely will be able to get citizenship if you wanted to (if the govt has not already tried to offer you one, and you yourself said that getting citizenship is no issue even for newcomers).

    In this case, what's the basis of complaint when one can simply take up the citizenship and enjoy the so called benefits of singaporean citizenship and not remain as a PR?

    In this case, why does one still remain a PR? Attachment to home country? Citizenship not attractive enough?

    By Blogger Jolly Jester, at 4:15 pm  

  • Bart,

    Looks like I agree much more with the KTM on this issue.

    While I agree with you that ideals of equality and brotherhood among all men(and women), irregardless of nationality are laudable, I don't think these ideas merge very well with nation/statehood.

    I would think that the analogy of a family being similar to a country is a good way to bring this conflict across. Do you think we should treat your family members more favourably than others? Or should we treat everyone equally, it doesn't matter if that person is a stranger, family member, friend etc? It reminds me of Plato's Euthypro actually...

    I do get a sense that you seem to regard a globalised, nationless world as an ideal. While I agree with you abstractly that this sort of new world order might do greater good for mankind (lesser of those petty wars between nations/tribes/races), the reality is that we are still live in a world that is demarcated along national lines. Until we have the whole world weaned off this nation state system, the relatively parochial outlook must stay, or else there is no meaning to the nation state in question.

    Cheers!

    By Blogger Jolly Jester, at 4:35 pm  

  • Jolly Jester,

    That a PR who has worked here and paid taxes for 15 years choose not to accept a Singapore citizenship does not discount the value of his contributions. If he has faithfully paid his dues for 15 years like any other Singaporean, we cannot disqualify him from enjoying the same benefits accorded to Singaporeans the "Singaporean pay taxes so they deserve special treatment" argument.

    The question now really is how much value do we put on the notion of citizenship. Some people think that citizenship is just like some decoration with no practical meaning. Yet others think that citizenship is something extremely valuable. At the end of the day, who is "right" or "wrong" depends on the starting assumptions.

    Bart's logic works perfectly if the former assumption is followed. If the latter is assumed, the it doesn't make sense. I guess this matter too has an emotional side to it and it is impossible to come to an agreement. We are human after all. Of course, for the record, I would align myself more towards the views espoused by the KTM. Why I place a premium on citizenship is not something that can be explained by logic. I just feel that citizenship means a great deal.

    Therefore I hope people stop dissing Bart. Parallel lines of thought are different from opposing lines of thought.

    By Blogger Aaron, at 5:08 pm  

  • I think we should not stray into the issue of taking up citizenship
    as for some PRs the citizenship is just not attractive enough.When you wants to uproot you may find it difficult as the administration is ever changing.Some negatives issues to consider as well. Example, singapore is a "pressure cooker", son wasted 2 valuable years doing NS .No quality of life etc etc. leaving aside political issues as we know what they are.I think I like what Bart jp say "as far as benefit is concerned , treat everyone the same as long as they contribute to Singapore".I just feel the "PR" people are just been left out .Benefits are concerned they are sweeped away from the citizen.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:14 pm  

  • Hi All,

    Thanks for your comments, some some kind words from Aaron. Jolly jester and kelvin both made some good points as well.

    Even if one takes an opposing views, it still does not justify the kind of language used. People should learn to accept a plurality of opinions, this is how a liberal democracy should work. But from the strong reactions and sometimes abusive language I am getting, I can at least be assured that my blog is not one of those (like Minister VB said) with readership of one. Some readers, even if it is a minority, should see the point I am making.

    On the contrary to what some of you might think, I actually view citizenship as something important. But how we feel about Singapore the nation is something personal, up to each of us to define. I treasure the emotions of being a spore citizens. But to have emotions for Singapore is not the same as getting emotional over every Singaporean issue. The nation becomes stronger when people feel emotionally attached to it, not because we have given Singapore passport holders some extra benefits over others.

    Think about it, domestic maids working in Singapore are of greater contribution to us than Singaporean passport holders living long-term overseas.

    Like one anon said, it is so easy to sign up as a citizen today, enjoy the benefits, and then move on. Are our borders closed? Is our citizenship static? Do citizens stay citizens forever? When people start drumming up extra citizens only benefits, we have to really ask whether it makes sense.

    By Blogger Bart JP, at 10:43 pm  

  • Aaron,

    I acknowledge that the PR in that scenario will have have contributed greatly, but the point is, he chose not to accept citizenship.

    Ideally of course its best to be able to perfectly discriminate between everybody instead of relying on such crude status labels of "PR", "Citizen" to determine the level of treatment. Do we, just because of this 15 year contribution PR, extend benefits to all other PRs, including new PRs, irregardless of how much their contributions are, just to be fair to that 15 year PR?

    Or should we have a system where PRs are given benefits on say the number of years he has stayed/taxes he has paid?

    So back to my original point, yes, the 15 yr PR has made great contributions, but he CHOOSES not to accept citizenship. I will ideally wish to be able to acknowledge it, but in practice its not going to be feasible (implementation wise) without violating my premise that Singaporeans are still more important.

    By Blogger Jolly Jester, at 2:23 am  

  • I think, unfortunately for our country, that we are not overly blessed with resources like abundant land, uranium mines, oil and gas fields or beautiful mountains.

    We are, rather, blessed with NS, clogged expressways, hectic pace of life that takes no prisoners etc.

    It makes any foreigner pause before taking up citizenship here, especially when the benefits (or lack thereof) between a foreigner and citizens are compared.

    By Blogger John, at 2:29 am  

  • Bart,

    I hope you aren't referring to me when you talk about "strong reactions and abusive language" :-)

    Thanks for the clarification, I think I can better see where you are coming from now. I agree with you about the sense of emotional attachment to one's nation as being a better gauge of being Singaporean. (But there's no way we can find out, unless there's some device that can detect one's 'Singaporeanness')

    But before we reach the emotional/spiritual realm of that attachment, the basic needs of dollars and cents (well, that's what us economists are for, right?) of being a Singaporean will still need to be settled. What are the monetary advantages of being Singaporean? Should there be more, or less?

    Guess that's where we differ in opinions. :-)

    By Blogger Jolly Jester, at 2:43 am  

  • In a time not so long ago and in a land not so far away, there was this old widower who had two sons.

    The old man was the owner of a vineyard in a very poor country. While all his neighbours were scrapping by each year, the old man and his household always had food on the table.

    The vineyard was large and between the old man and his two sons, they couldn't quite manage, so in addition to the two sons, the old man had two hired hands who stayed at the vine yard and worked for the family.

    One employee was an expert wine maker, the other was an odd job labourer who did the all the menial work that the old man and his sons didn't quite want to do.

    Now for the sons. The elder son was a natural businessman and good with number while the younger son didn't quite have a knack for studies and was illiterate. As such, as the old man grew older, he left the elder son to manage the vineyard, while the younger son had the job of plucking grapes.

    Over time, the younger son grew discontent and started to complain, "Am I not also a son? Why am I stuck plucking grapes while my brother is manager and lord over this vineyard?"

    "Even the hired hand who is just a wine maker makes more money than I! What's more while my brother and I have to take turns guarding our house at night, this fella is sleeping soundly in his room. Why can't I be the wine maker and this fella pluck grapes instead?"

    The old man answered, "You and your brother were asked to guard the house because I only trust my family. I would have made you the wine maker if you had shown any aptitude for making wine. I would have made you manager if you had shown yourself more capable of managing your finances than your brother."

    Of course, the younger son wasn't satisfied with that explanation. He was in his view better than his brother and most definitely better than the hired hand.

    Then the vineyard fell to hard times. First, the old man left the second hired hand go and the brothers had to take out the trash themselves.

    Then, forced by circumstances, the old man let his wine maker go. The elder brother wasn't amused and confronted his father, "Why did you let him go? Now I will have to go and make the wine myself? Why not just ask my brother to go to the neighbouring farm and find another job to support himself? He's not very useful around here".

    The old man said,"As you say, he's your brother. Regardless of his faults, as a family, we take care of our own".


    ------------

    When the debate of citizenship becomes a debate over the benefits and monetary value, it only belies the what's really at the hearts of our people.

    It's all about me-first and what's in it for me, it's not about citizenship.

    Citizenship is more than what one can quantify in dollars and cents, because it is like family. One doesn't get to choose his family. It is not very different with citizenship.

    People may wish to go and read some of the comments left by some of our brothers who are abroad and grappling with the prospects of having to give up their citizenship because of pragmatic reasons. For many of them, there are no "good" reasons to retain their citizenship, but perhaps in their dilemma, we might catch a glimpse of what citizenship might be all about.

    If Singapore should go to war and the KTM is called to take up arms, he will gladly do so --- to defend his family, his friends and even the whiners who complain all the time (because they do not understand their place in life). :-)

    One does not have to like his family, and it is a personal choice whether to stand behind those blood ties, or to simply give up and move out. To each his own.

    Jolly Jester,

    Quite sure Bart is not referring to you lah. He's probably referring the fellas at Mr Wang's blog. :-P

    By Blogger kwayteowman, at 3:33 am  

  • Bart,

    if one of the two drowning is your own child, I wonder if you can still do a "which one I have the best chance to save" analysis. Is it to much to ask, for a Singaporean to see another Singaporean, as family?

    If Singapore is a hotel, then those who pay the most ought to get the best service. But if Singapore is a home, then it doesnt matter how many years a prodigal son had spent away.

    In an ideal nation, like Israel, I expect a citizen living abroad to drop everything and return home, to die if necessary, when the homeland is in danger. I expect the PR, irregardless of taxes paid over the years, to leave. And even if the nation dies, I expect the exiled citizens to cherish the nation in their hearts, for two thousand years if necessary. But that's lalaland, of course. No Singaporean will feel this attached to this country. Not with this kind of government running the country.

    And anyway, Singapore doesnt let her citizens make up their own definitions of citizenship. Try defining a citizenship without NS, and see how Singapore will turn you into an international fugitive.

    By Blogger Jimmy Mun, at 4:19 am  

  • Jimmy,

    You are pushing a hypothetical question by KTM into an extreme and coming up with meaningless conclusions. I just have a new born daughter. My emotional response to her is completely different from any one else. Of course I will save her first. But since you like to push examples to extreme, let me turn around and tease you a bit.

    Your own child and another Singaporean child (citizen) are drowning. So, since you profess so much love for your fellow countrymen or citizen, I expect you to save the other child first then? Even if the other child is a PRC/Indian born who just got naturalised as citizens last month? Does it make sense to you

    That is my whole point. Given globalisation, people are moving around, people emigrating immigrating, citizenship here, PR somewhere else, one has to be careful about making the kind of simplifying assumptions.

    By Blogger Bart JP, at 8:23 am  

  • Bart,

    you just proved my point that you have no emotional response to another Singaporean. Put simply, you dont care.

    I have no problem prioritising the needs of my children, over some distant relative, over some unrelated new citizen, over some stranger from a foreign land.

    You are the one jumping to the absurd conclusion that I love my countrymen more than my child.

    By Blogger Jimmy Mun, at 9:00 am  

  • Jimmy,

    You are still in the habit of making clean sweeping assumptions, like putting an order of priority like you just did.

    So, you prioritise the needs of a newly naturalised citizen over a PR of 20 years? PRs living in Singapore or Singaporeans living overseas? If a Filipino maid live with me and took care of my family for the past 5 years, she is like part of my family. Should I let her drown to save some Singapore passport holders, some newly naturalised from foreign lands?

    Of course, clean sweeping assumptions are comfortable. You are prescribing your view of the world and saying, yeah, it has to be this way, no other way. Think, think, and think.

    By Blogger Bart JP, at 9:10 am  

  • Bart,

    you are the one who is not thinking. It is all a question of relationships. The foreigner who is my best friend is certainly more important to me than a stranger who is a citizen. But if you are talking about two strangers here, then the citizen is more important than a PR, because a fellow citizen is considered a distant family to me. Collectively as a nation, the needs of the citizen should always come before that of the non-citizen. Is that a very difficult concept to comprehend?

    It is bone-chilling to know that people like you are running this country.

    By Blogger Jimmy Mun, at 9:27 am  

  • Jimmy,

    It is not difficult to understand. I said before already, ceteris paribus, I favour my fellow citizen.

    I think enough of this hypothetical who to save example. I think both of us have made the points we are trying to make. Lets shake on it and move on.

    By Blogger Bart JP, at 9:29 am  

  • What I see in most of the arguments here is "this thing known as part of the family" that is missing from many Singaporeans here pushing for the idea that citizens first that matter and others thing take second or third places. My experience is like in UAE country that is where we are heading. The male UAE national wear long white and pink checked head scaff to identify themselves. And they insist that they wanted to be treated differently because they are citizens .In public places they dont queue for taxis ,just walk in front and cut queue and in immigration just walk right infront of all the other national queueing.Even in work places they insist that they should be treated differently in benefits and perks.This nationalitic behavior will soon spread to Singapore and who knows we could one day be flashing our pink ICs to show we are citizen and need to be treated differently. I now work as an expat in West Afirca .The community here is qute differnt we have employees having coloured skin from white to black and always treated like a "big family" with the exception of a few "out cast".I once ask John why he treated his cat he found in town so nicely.He reply the cat is now part of our family , Lim, and he fly business class with us .When will Singapore mature to this stage to attract the right people to take up citizenship here.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:22 am  

  • Singaporeans enjoying privileges over foreigners? That's lalaland stuff, too hard to imagine.

    If there is a slippery slope we are standing on, it is the one with the IR, where foreigners go in for free, but citizens have to pay a fee. Singapore citizenship is a liability in Singapore.

    By Blogger Jimmy Mun, at 1:00 pm  

  • Taxes, citizenship, bla bla... all these are recurring issues which pop out from time to time.

    So what you guys think of my most recent blog post title -

    University places =
    F(protectionism, citizenship, taxes)?

    I address the following questions openly to those who hold these beliefs.

    OK let me see... if one says taxes should determine who is more valuable to the country, then foreigner CEOs which earn large paypackets should have more rights than the Singaporean cleaner lady. We should give them voting rights? Right or wrong?

    Then now, going head on head, two Singaporeans, one rich, the other poor. Of course the rich one deserves that university place more than the poor one, is that not?

    If one likes to generalize, I hope you do realize that when generalizing, it is for simplicity of argument's sake and is not, and should not be meant to be taken as such.

    The argument that ALL Singaporeans will stay and fight for SG is wrong. You know it. Come on, dun "baydey" me. The argument that ALL PRs and foreigners will leave SG in the lurch is also wrong. I have foreign friends who love SG to death.

    Well, I say, sometimes it takes courage, and then some, to go up to the next foreigner you see and make friends with him/her. You might get a perspective change for once.

    Expand your horizons, broaden your views. That is the only way to survive in this increasingly globalized world.

    By Blogger Clarence, at 4:13 pm  

  • Clarence,

    I don't know who you are suggesting not having any foreign friends. I stayed in a hostel dominated and controlled by foreigners for a year. (Mr Wang stayed in that hostel for four years). My roommate was a PRC scholar for a while. I am a bond guarantor for a PRC scholar (not my roommate), a Bangladeshi and a Malaysian. I know most of PRC scholars in Engin that year because most of them stayed in the same hostel.

    After graduation, I work in the IT line, where I barely get to meet Singaporeans. I am not joking when I say my best friend is a foreigner. I carry a Malay-English dictionary around so I can be in on the Malay jokes shared between the Malaysian and Indonesian.

    Oh, and you know we have a foreign talent problem in Singapore, when that foreign talent best friend of mine is complaining Singapore is bringing in too many foreign talents. In fact, he is feeling so unsettled he is learning a new foreign language and plans to leave Singapore to a place where his job is more secure (and better paid).

    Sorry to disappoint you, but not everyone speaking out against the foreign talent policy in Singapore is some Singapore sumpremacist neo-nazi xenophobic redneck skinhead. This is something Bart "London Experience" JP can never understand.

    By Blogger Jimmy Mun, at 3:34 am  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Bart JP, at 4:26 am  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Bart JP, at 4:27 am  

  • Jimmy,

    No one is suggesting you are a neo-nazi. We just have differences in opinions that's all. Over the past months, we clearly disagreed with each other but have been getting along just about fine thus far.

    This summer, I will be joining a local university as a visiting researcher for 2 months. I also hope to teach at a local university sometime in the future. These issues are very 'live', no one has a settled final position. I might yet change my mind about some issues in the future.

    By Blogger Bart JP, at 4:57 am  

  • It is simply ludicrious not to put singaporean first. This is so childish. Childish because it's as if the son is telling the father that he can take care of himself.

    In the first place, the son will be able to take care of himself when he reach a certain age, unless this child is so dependant on the parents - which seems like the case here.

    The way you are saying is, i shall allow my competitor to learn the game of the rules and how i play the game and this will increase the competitiveness of the game? The competitor already have the edge over you! With this kind of mentality, singapaporeans are bound to be second to a foreigner and never be able to compete internationally.

    Anyway, as a matter of fact, those singaporeans who are able to compete internationaly do so in foreign countries. you may want to learn why they cant do so in singapore.

    By Anonymous amatu, at 5:51 am  

  • You are right,Singaporean workers already lost their competitiveness.I work in UAE oil/gas industries.I have yet to meet one Singaporean.The place is swamped with Indians,Phillipino,Pakistans for many years.I now work in West africa.No Singaporean,all Indians,Philipinos and others.Only singapore resident compete internationally here.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:17 am  

  • I think you are at the age or the mood to attempt the examination of topics or conservative views from every angle. I suppose that is good in a certain way.

    But the bond between country and citizen cannot and should not be so easily dismissed. Being more globalised and connected now does not make redundant the duty of the citizen to the country and vice versa.

    Heard the latest national song by Kit Chan (I think) on TV? The government is anxious that Singaporeans come home or still have loyalty to this island no matter where they may be, as far as Paris, London or New York. It is a two-way street. The government, or the country, too have obligations and duties to the citizens.

    There are certain actions that only a citizen's love for his/her country can make rational.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:00 am  

  • I want to come home too. But the government must treat me as "part of the family" .Until the partition is removed a PR is always a PR and FT is always a FT and merely using Singapore as a spring board to go else where.Welcoming back "open arms" is a government's job .Try listen to some the comments and the direction of people moving back can be quite difficult especiallly when a chained dog is let loose and has a taste of foreigner's land freedom and cultures.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:35 am  

  • Bart,

    Ned humbly submits that a situation whereby all are treated equal will only happen in the near future; for example if the UN becomes something like the United Earth Directorate in Starcraft. However even so there will still be differences between different peoples thus such a situation may never come to pass.

    By Blogger Ned Stark, at 9:59 am  

  • Ned and all,

    There is an old chinese saying - a kin living far from you is not as good as your neighbour. There is obvious wisdom in this chinese saying. When you run into trouble, your neighbour can render more immediate assistance than your kin.

    Twenty years, or even ten years ago, if we look around at who our neighbours are, they will almost certainly be pink-ic Singaporeans.

    Today, when you look around, even in the HDB heartlands, there will be many neighbours who are non pink-ic holders. More than just neighbours, we have more than a hundred thousand maids living in our families.

    Clarence is probably right when he says that the assumption that all PRs and foreigners will flee when we are in trouble is almost certainly wrong. The assumption that all Singaporeans are stayers is also almost certainly wrong.

    It is worth reflecting on that chinese saying in light of the context today.

    By Blogger Bart JP, at 10:32 am  

  • Bart,

    never mind the imaginary world where Singapore citizens are treated better than a foreigner, "ceteris paribus". What we have now in Singapore, is the Singapore government deliberately neglecting her own citizens because they have no incentive to do so. We have no balls to vote PAP out of power, and the lesser individuals among us, especially the non-graduates, can't migrate. OTOH, the Singapore government acts like a whore to foreigners because they are more mobile.

    If Singapore government is a parent, they are letting their own children drown to rescue a rich stranger's child, because there is a possibility of financial reward from the stranger.

    By Blogger Jimmy Mun, at 3:10 pm  

  • Jimmy,

    I get your point. But avoid such strong language if possible.

    By Blogger Bart JP, at 3:18 pm  

  • ...once upon a time I work for an american company.The local employees complain alot, day and night.The MD cannot tahan(cannot stand it) he told us "if you dont like it here, you can go .The gate is opened.And there are many outside waiting to come in."

    By Anonymous kenneth, at 6:02 am  

  • That's a brilliant Idea! I am inspired to take up UK citizenship seeing how you were so brilliantly treated there and how Singapore should be the same.

    Soooo....great! An Interview! With a good company as well in London! Soho! Woo big league here I come!

    I got the job? Great! UK is a land of equality like you said! Singapore should be like that!

    lalalalala Bye Singapore! Land of stupid protectionist loving 'citizens'! I am a global citizen!

    *Ring Ring*. This is "Super UK company in UK, yes! the land where Perspective Unlimited holds as a model of equality for Stupid Singaporean"

    "I am sorry, we have to cancel your job acceptance as we checked and our job application procedure is not in accordance with existing labour laws. You see we have to prove that there is no UK or EU citizen actually qualified for the job before we open it to foreigners."

    Yeah! UK, the global country!

    In the absense of a truly global equal chances to all, citizens and foreigners country, we should just volunteer to be the first to strip down to the buff bend down and allow others to screw our behind! HARD!

    Man, that makes me feel almost dirty.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:24 am  

  • All of you should stop barking. Pro or no pro singaporean, PAP have the final said and good dog follow..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:40 am  

  • It appears that you overestimate the 'contributions' of foreigners working in Singapore. Paying taxes is not a compelling argument as they are merely returning a portion to society what they have consumed in resources and opportunities. Besides, Singapore's tax regime is among the lowest in the developed world. There are qualitative and positive network effect contributions that can be attributed to foreigners and PRs but Singaporeans also provide these and even more. There cannot be any doubt that Singaporeans contribute much more than foreigners and PRs. The primary reason for welcoming foreigners and PRs is to get them to help expand the pie so that Singaporeans can enjoy larger slices over time. The brouhaha over the foreigner/PR issue is due to a nagging suspicion among some Singaporeans that their share of the pie has not only not grown but seemed to have shrunk over time. The reality is that we are living cheek-by-jowl in a tiny space with tight resources. If you're not improving my well-being, get the fuck out of my island.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:43 pm  

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