Simon, the 23-year-old Burmese permanent resident who completed his national service but still couldn’t become a citizen here, has graciously completed a online interview with us. His earlier article Foreigner served national service but still rejected as citizen has created a online storm as he wrote against the anti-foreigner sentiments brewing in our country.
Expect another online controversy to stir as he answers our questions with candour and unpleasant frankness.
Transitioning wishes to reiterate that we are not xenophobic in outlook but rather we want our foreign friends to respect our people, culture and practices.
Of course it has to be two-way and we wish that any comments posted will be civil and cordial.
Transitioning: Can you please state your educational qualifications, salary range, age, marital status and work experience?
Simon: Diploma in New Media, 23 , Single
Employed but commencing work at end of October due to external commitments. Fresh Graduate/ORD. Cannot disclose salary but within acceptable range for diploma graduates.
Transitioning: How long have you work in Singapore? Are you on a work permit or already a permanent resident?
Simon: Lived 15 years. PR.
Transitioning: Describe how you view Singapore both as a place of work and residence?
Simon: Competitive job market like most countries. Attitude of many locals towards foreigners is very unpleasant. Only some not all.
Transitioning: Why do you choose Singapore to live and work in?
Simon: I didn’t choose Singapore. My parents did.
Transitioning: How do you feel about the recent anti-foreign sentiments brewing in Singapore?
Simon: I think it’s understandable that some people are resentful due to the fact that the presence of foreigners makes the job market more competitive. A competitive job market is important to keep the economy in good condition, and the faster locals realise this, the less problems and conflicts there will be.
While the mental animosity towards foreigners is UNDERSTANDABLE, the physical and verbal reactions towards them is UNACCEPTABLE and shows a lack of GRACE and MATURITY on these individuals. Again, emphasis on individuals, not as a whole.
Transitioning: Personally, do you face any xenophobic reaction from the local people here?
Simon: Wouldn’t be a normal day if didn’t receive/see/experience at least one racist/xenophobic comment or action. Long story short : EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Transitioning: What do you think the country should do to better integrate foreigners into the society?
Simon: While many foreigners are doing their best to integrate into local society, it seems to be a one sided relationship so to speak.
Many foreigners have the skills necessary to be gainfully employed and a good number of them speak acceptable English (keep in mind, most locals speak SINGLISH so they’re really not in a position to criticise others’ language skills either).
However, the very FACT that they are foreigners automatically earns them a lower level of respect from many locals. So the question I believe should be what should the country do to better teach these individuals basic respect for a human being? And as always, it’s not everyone – just some.
I would also agree that some foreigners don’t try to integrate into local society as well. But I don’t judge ALL locals by the actions of a few. But it seems to me that many locals judge ALL foreigners in that manner.
Most locals proudly recite the pledge when they have to but many are not carrying out what they pledge. Let me quote one part of the pledge “Regardless of RACE, LANGUAGE OR RELIGION” and “Based on justice and EQUALITY”. I don’t really see much of that happening right now.
The pledge is great, but it’s just words in a passage unless it is carried out by the people saying it. I’ve yet to experience what that feels like though.
Transitioning: Do you have any good local friends in Singapore whom you can go out with or talk to?
Simon: A few. They are very good individuals who judge me for who I am, not where I was born. They are the epitome of what a citizen of the world should be like. Though they have flaws, their flaws don’t show them to be xenophobes and complainers to the rest of the world. However, these individuals are few and far between.
Transitioning: Will you take up citizenship and sink your roots into Singapore?
Simon: I would. If I could.
But the outbreak of xenophobia makes it difficult for me to obtain citizenship and also, even if I WAS granted citizenship, my nationality will not change. THAT might also make xenophobes hate me. Worrying isn’t it?
The thought that even being a citizen, I still might not be accepted due to the fact that I wasn’t born here. What they are now calling “true, blue citzens”. Ironic that the IC colour of PRs is blue as well.
This whole true blue citizen/pure citizen thing reminds me of something. If you read Harry Potter you might know. They talked about deatheaters (evil, conceited, arrogant people..sound familiar?) who go around classifying wizards and witches into “pure-bloods” and “mud-bloods”. This is what’s happening right now.
Transitioning: What one thing do you hope to see change while living in Singapore?
Simon: I hope that common sense, humility and the will to work hard can be somehow injected into some of the locals here, much like a vaccine shot. And maybe a cure for xenophobia would be good as well. As always, what I say apply ONLY to those individuals who are out there blaming everything left, right and centre. Not to all.
End of interview and thank you.
Editor’s note: If you are a foreigner and wishes to participate in this online interview, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will email you the same questionaire for you to complete. We reserve the right to edit the article as we deem fit. Thanks.