Monthly Archives: July 2012

Xenophobia in Singapore: What’s your stand?

Intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries

Definition of Xenophobia from the Oxford Dictionary

Recently a group of bloggers came together to organise a forum called Online/Offline. They were worried that anti-foreigner sentiments was turning Singapore in to a xenophobia society.

The discussion was 2 hours long, but they only posted a 20 minute video, which is only part 1 of the discussion, where they voiced their opinions on whether Singapore’s society has become xenophobic. There were many opinions, but the general agreement was that we are heading in that direction. For in-depth analysis of the forum, you can read the Yahoo! Singapore’s report.

 

The panelists, mainly Martyn See, Andrew Loh, Ravi Philemon, Alex Au and Zaqy Mohamad, Member of Parliament for Choa Chu Kang GRC tried to define the meaning of xenophobia and words like “rational/irrational fear of foreigners”, “Us vs Them mentality”, “Loss of personal space” were thrown out.

They also made it very clear from the start that intention of the forum is to generate debate and discussion online and offline and that the forum wasn’t set up to condone or promote xenophobia.

Well, I personally feel that this is a great initiative by the bloggers because while it is not yet a problem, it is starting to take root in our society. Like Andrew Loh said, xenophobia is not problem, but we are heading in that direction.

A perfect example is the Ferrari/Taxi accident in which the Ferrari, driven by a Chinese businessman, who was a PR in Singapore, beat a red light, crash in to the taxi, resulting in the death of himself, the taxi driver, who is Singaporean and his Japanese passenger. A few weeks later, at the exactly the same junction, a Lexus, this time driven by a Singaporean, crash in to a taxi, but thankfully, there were no deaths this time. Let me break it down for you.

Ferrari/Taxi crash

 

Lexus/Taxi crash

 

Everything is similar except there were no deaths in the second incident. But what was different was the backlash received after both incidents. In the Ferrari/ Taxi accident, there was a storm online, where there was vitriolic criticism of the man and his nationality. A few weeks later, the Lexus/Taxi accident happened, but this time, the criticism of the Lexus driver, a local, was somewhat muted.

I’m very puzzled by the reaction of Singaporeans regarding both accidents. Is it because there were deaths in the Ferrari/Taxi accident and none in the Lexus/Taxi accident? Or is it because the driver of the Ferrari is a foreigner and the driver of the Lexus is a local?

If it is the latter, then it is proof that xenophobia, has very much taken root in our society. Worrying indeed.

 

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