Comments on the recent NUSS Political Dialogue

19-aug-nuss-political

 

On Immigration, the AHPETC thing, and Political Freedom

A recent dialogue session at NUSS saw an exchange between representatives of 10 political parties including the PAP and WP. To be honest, this has got to be the first time that I’ve heard of 10 political parties talking about policy to each other, and it’s a shame that I wasn’t there to see the spectacle that it likely was. News sources identified several issues that were discussed during the dialogue session, which included immigration, the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) Report on Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East (AHPETC), and political freedom, which I will briefly discuss in that order.

 

Immigration

Immigration has been a hot button issue for some time in Singapore. Ever since the population white paper came out in 2013, the magical figure of 6.9 million has been thrown about whenever we complain about overcrowding. As many Singaporeans take to social media outlets to complain of overcrowding and our train system encounters its first few major breakdowns, the prospect of welcoming more people onto our tiny island so that they may chase their dreams and build their lives seems impossible. Add to that the concerns of a socio-cultural mismatch arising from viral photos and/or videos of foreigners being caught doing terrible things such as the PRC woman defecating in front of Holland Village MRT station, or the Caucasian man verbally abusing someone for wearing a t-shirt that was not to his liking.

foreign-worker

Yet, aside from the larger economic implications a halt to immigration would bring, it is strange that we, a nation of immigrants, would speak against people in that situation now. Many of our grandparents or great grandparents came to Singapore just a century ago or less in search of the same fortune and opportunity that these migrants seek Add to that the fact that nearly all of these migrants are working and economically active, powering our economy ahead through doing the jobs that we Singaporeans regard as undesirable as well as complementing our skillsets in engineering, finance, and other knowledge work. This fellow puts it very well, albeit a little coarsely (and from a British perspective).

 

AGO and the Whole AHPETC Thing

As a taxpayer, it is understandably concerning that the dollars that are flowing into my government’s coffers or that of my contributions to my town council are not being maximised. Its bad that there were lapses both at AHPETC and other agencies including the MOE, MOH, and IDA, and those responsible should indeed take a little more responsibility than just saying sorry and expecting us to move on. Concrete evidence that controls will be put in place to prevent future lapses from occurring again will need to be presented, and those responsible for the lapses should understand that no amount of explanation could repair the resulting damage to their reputation. Yet, to be fair, talk of this AHPETC saga is indeed getting a little old. I personally grow a little weary of hearing about this so many times, and would rather have a little more pre-election airtime on other issues. What happened to those discussions on education, healthcare, housing, the economy, and labour that we used to see?

AHPETC1

 

Political Freedom

Political freedom has many aspects. As a society, we are not quite yet at a level of political freedom that would allow organisations such as the Ku Klux Klan or Communists to be registered as legitimate political organisations and be allowed to organise events and activities in public. Yet, the past few years has seen quite an improvement in political activity in our country. A proliferation of articles written by citizen journalists that openly slam the PAP government and how busy Hong Lim Park is seems to attest to the fact that Singaporean society is slowly learning to embrace and make use of their freedoms. It’s difficult for me to comment on the precise workings of this freedom, the various aspects that make up political freedom, or to test its true extent, but I personally don’t feel stifled in any way from expressing my opinions and beliefs, although I probably cannot say the same for everyone.

 

I will probably provide a greater depth in subsequent articles, so do look out for them!

 

 

 

About the author

Ali Yaakub

Ali is a current affairs enthusiast who loves to play devil's advocate in any discussion. He enjoys long late-night discussions about life, the universe, and everything over a teh tarik or warm tau huay. Look him up if you ever feel like it.

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1 Comment

  • With regards to the topic of immigration, I would say the main thing here is our identity is at risk.

    1. Integration

    It was different back in our grandparents days, we were all immigrants coming here and were developing our culture.
    Now, we are a nation with our own culture. It would make sense that one should accept our culture, if they want to be part of us.

    I feel that our refusal to accept immigrants is caused by their refusal to be accepted. Take the cases of foreign-looking people doing/ instructing their child to do ‘business’ at inappropriate places (btw, the woman who defecated at the MRT is local. I doubt a true-blue though) for example. In some cases, people did go up and told them to use the toilet but they got shunned away.

    2. Loyalty

    Another reason why we may reject immigrants is because they are just treating our home as stepping stones. Nobody would like it if their home was used as a tool and that is what a number of immigrants are doing. I know somebody who took up Singapore citizenship just so that he doesn’t need to fill up annoying visa applications. The more known would be Lee JiaWei giving up citizenship and returned to China and got married after earning enough money representing Singapore in table tennis games. On a side note, I believe Feng TianWei will also follow suit sooner or later, having displayed her loyalty to China still remains.

    The above will make others have a negative impression of Singapore. So I don’t think it is strange that people are against foreign influx trying to protect our identity.

Share your thoughts!