By Aloysius Chia
How did foreigners become the target of so much hatred recently?
In online forums and everyday conversations, foreigners have become the new breed of people to vent one’s anger to.
There are those who find foreigners, who actually make up a very diverse group of people, the source of social problems. These are the people who like the economic benefits of foreigners but loathe their presence.
There are those who perceive them through economic concerns. These are the people who dislike foreigners because they seem to take away jobs which they think would otherwise have gone to them.
Then there are those who dislike them no matter. These are the people who hate foreigners no matter what the reason.
In no way are those who find foreigners the source of problems directing their energies at the right group of people.
How would foreigners in general, who came to Singapore to work, signing up for what is essentially a job, have the power to shape anything here?
They have no political power, no ability to vote, no one who represents them truly in government, no substantial labor rights, no major media who represents them. Rich or poor if they do not obey they will be asked to leave.
Yet at the same that is where all the anger is directed against. Against something that has no fundamental influence.
But who wields the power? Who are those who are pulling the strings behind the scenes?
These are the people who are in committees, who are in meeting rooms, in offices, hidden from view. They are the politicians, the technocrats, the experts who plan elaborate systems so as to manage the reactions that come out of it. These are people who are the true sources of power.
They shape economic policies, plan projects, implement changes, they tweak details according to the political climate so as to cater to it, calming it down or redirecting it to another channel. They do this so as to maintain the overall trajectory of the process.
Yet their presence in the mainstream media or public is largely unknown. Other than those who are carefully chosen to be prominent, they are largely working behind devising policies, policies that actually impact the lives of people.
It is easy to direct anger towards foreigners because they are easily visible. They abound in places that are not far away from where Singaporeans hang out, shop, dine and go for leisure.
They congregate in areas which are separate yet near to Singaporeans. Oftentimes they also use the same means of transportation.
On the other hand, how many people truly know the identities of the people who make all the important decisions in the government?
Those who plunge and buy into the atmosphere of hatred of foreigners do not realize how they are merely fodder for the system, a part to be played and managed against what is essentially a venting, not a correction or attempt to change what actually shapes the policies that affect social reality.
For if the anger of the locals is directed at foreigners instead of the system, that is actually a very good thing for them.