~ By Bertha Henson ~
The most heartening piece of news today is the ST story on a group of bloggers coming together to combat the rise in anti-foreigner sentiment. They are going to do a Youtube chat show on national issues, with xenophobia as a starting point; and a food/culture series on the main immigrant communities here. This is so splendid.
I wonder if the efforts are being supported by the National Integration Council, which I gather gives grants for such causes. I hope it does – AND keep a hands-off approach to what’s being discussed or presented. The worry, I suppose, would be the chat shows degenerating into some kind of slugfest and instead of becoming learning points for Singaporeans, merely widens the divide. Discussion and debate is always good; get it all out of the system. Let’s hope the general community is mature enough to absorb what’s being said.
I found a comment in the story interesting – whether the rise in anti-foreigner sentiment is genuine xenophobia or out of some sense of an unfulfilled social contract. I think the discussion should start with this topic before going into specific national issues. I suppose housing, jobs and NS would be discussed. I wonder if the G is going to take part. Or will be invited to do so. I want a Mindef person there, because this whole NS for PRs’ children should really have some sort of resolution/explanation.
It’s going take ages for the us-versus-them divide to narrow. I can think of only a few things that might help a) greater use of English b) having the men do NS c) stop foreign enclaves from developing in private estates (like racial quotas in HDB areas) d) more transparency on foreigner numbers from the G e) publicity on not just the role but also the benefits of being a citizen.
To those bloggers, good luck and thank you.
TOC thanks Bertha Henson for her contribution, this article first appeared on her blog. Bertha Henson is a former Associate Editor of The Straits Times.