It’s 4 in the morning but I can’t get to sleep.
There’s a question that is stuck in my head. A question a lot of people pose whenever they ask for my views on the White Paper.
I honestly find it difficult to explain just how superficial this question is.
I urge every ”Singaporean son” to actually read the White paper before asking me:
"So you don’t want foreign workers to come here, then who do that job? You do uh?"
"Singaporeans don’t want to make babies so foreigners come here to save the country, grow the economy, why complain? They are doing us a favour so why go against this?"
Most times, these questions leave me speechless and at this point they probably conclude that I fall under the category of the mindless, conforming, young rebel (What to do? I’m 22) because of my lack of ability to give them a satisfactory answer, without much consideration of the fact that the questions just aren’t worth wasting my breath on.
I feel terribly sorry that I am sometimes unable to articulate what goes through my mind after a disastrous question like the above is posed. Disastrous, I say it again because it destructs the mind, believe me when I say this and I apologise to anyone who has caught the subtle sign of my jaw dropping ever so slightly in response to their questions. I apologise if you have seen in my face the look of confusion as I wonder to myself "Excuse me, sorry, have you actually even read the White Paper? All *73 pages of it?"
See, my point is simple and the point is not about being for or against the White Paper, the point is about knowing your facts. It’s embarrassing to throw out mindless questions in a tone that exudes such confidence when instead the underlying message that is sent across to me basically reads : I don’t know anything, I didn’t read a single page of the White Paper, I’m just smoking my way through because you’re probably too young to understand what’s going on anyway. Besides, you’re probably one of those typical silly young punks with a silly vision of Singapore and a silly alternative view.
The thing is, I have read the White Paper; I love sharing my views if people were to ask, but please, don’t talk down to me in the manner posted above. We need to be rational. It’s just so embarrassing to talk like that, and it is quite sad actually.
To me, when one is against the White Paper, it does not necessarily mean that one is against foreigners coming to Singapore. I hope Singaporeans can get this right and I hope non-citizens here do not feel unwelcome just because of the shallow-minded nature of others who bind foreign workers and the White Paper so casually and superficially.
I would like to believe that the concerns on the ground regarding the White Paper go much deeper than that. It has little to do with the foreigners themselves but more to do with the actions of the decision makers. It’s about voices not being heard. It’s about planning scenarios jumping too rapidly every few years - 1991 Concept Plan was 4mil, 2011 Concept Plan was 5.5mil, 2013 White Paper 6.9mil.
It’s about a lost trust and the fear of going out of control.
And who’s to say we haven’t already?
*Excluding list of acronyms and acknowledgements