Filipinos working in Singapore had earlier abandoned plans to celebrate their Independence Day at Orchard Road, due to an uproar by some Singaporeans who felt that it would be an infringement of their sovereign rights for the event to take place at such a prominent location.
The blog, titled “Filipino infestation in Singapore – 5 point guide to showing displeasure without breaking the law”, was posted at the end of May, written anonymously and was widely shared on social media, prompting the Philippine Embassy in Singapore to appeal to the government for prompt action.
The incident came in the wake of rising tensions involving the growing number of migrant workers, who have largely built the country’s impressive skyline, transport infrastructure and other facilities. A small group of radical Singaporeans has been fanning online discontent with what they claim are lax immigration policies allowing foreigners to steal jobs from Singaporeans.
Instead of spouting hatred against fellow Filipinos working here, perhaps a better way would be to examine the underlying reasons why Singapore is reliant on foreign labor and work towards tackling these reasons.
First of all, if we are to introduce effective measures to help companies in Singapore adjust and adopt the push to reduce their reliance on foreign workers and increase productivity, they will have to be targeted at the needs of the different industries. Representatives from government agencies, unions and the businesses themselves should come together to form work groups and develop productivity strategies uniquely tailored for each sector. Government policies and assistance schemes can then be crafted accordingly.
Quoting PM Lee, “Whether we bring in more immigrants and foreign workers or fewer, whether we aim for higher growth or lower, there are no easy choices for Singapore. We are taking a balanced approach, reducing but not cutting off the inflow of foreign workers.” Indeed, we need to take small steps in improving our policies as a wrong move can easily make or break us as a nation. A gradual change requires the patience and the understanding of the citizens, in not mistreating our fellow foreign colleagues.