Saturday, September 06, 2008

Redneck central

I totally understand how the good residents of Gardens feel about the prospect of having a thousand foreign workers suddenly settling into their neighbourhood. There are too many dichotomies to resolve before we can expect a harmonious coexistence.

"Foreign" in the sense that the workers hail from another country is only a surface issue. What's more scary about the situation is that Gardens, a peaceful, sleepy, family-based neighbourhood now has to deal with a new tribe of settlers that are anything but traditional Gardens residents -- alien in so many ways. The biggest problem is that all the 1000 potential new neighbours are young males who have absolutely no testosterone curbs at all in the form of wives, or at least long-term girlfriends, and the biggest testosterone damper of all, children.

This is a legitimate fear as the families of Gardens have more prosperity than ba**s while the reverse is true of their new neighbours.

To expand this argument, our tiny nation faces the exact same problem when we relocated to this region. All around us are young, disenfranchised males living in our neighbouring countries, while we are the only bright spot, dripping (at least in their eyes) with cash and playing virgin princess to all of ASEAN. That, for some reason, is something we haven't learned to fear. Or perhaps we haven't opened our eyes yet to the precarious position we're in?

This must be true of the commenters in the ST discussion board regarding an FT's letter asking for better treatment. Despite what they claim, their display is certainly not exemplary of S'porean solidarity. It's bullying, plain and simple.

I'm amazed at the depth of vitriol these people harbour and are willing to let fly at the slightest provocation. Excuse me, but when we made the choice to go cosmopolitan and open our doors to the world, it was irreversible. The world you guys are hankering for, the sleepy village with the slower pace of life, mama cooking kampong chicken for dinner while you work an honest day's wage in the padi fields is gone. We didn't have to entertain strangers then, because we had nothing to attract them here.

But now, everything's different. We wanted to be the gateway to the world, and so the world is here. And what shall we do with our invited guests? Shall we wring them dry of their hopes and dreams, and whatever little they have in their wallets and send them back from whence they came -- which is really what you are proposing -- or shall we treat them with the hospitality that we promised, and help them fulfil their dreams like we fulfilled ours a generation or so ago? And what stories of us do you want them to take back home? That we are honourable friends and solid neighbours, or that we are a bunch of gangsters who know not in whose turf we have set ourselves up?

Look, all the girl wants is to be treated fairly. Stop behaving like there isn't enough to go around because there is. Goodness... if ever there was a redneck central in the S'pore...!

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