The xenophobia of bureaucrats (aka NParks)
Apparently there is a potential spanner in the works for organizers of the upcoming May Day protest in Hong Lim Park: Foreigners are not allowed to take part or someone is going to have to answer for it. That is, of course, unless the police give a permit to allow said foreigners to be participants at such events.
But the chief organizer raised a good point: How is he supposed to guarantee foreigners not attend the event? All he can do is insist that no foreigners participate in the events per se, but he cannot prevent them from, say, being around posing with friends and taking pictures, or cheering the speakers on. After all, it is good for the tourist industry.
Nor is the organizer the immigration authority of Singapore, nor it seems is he encouraging foreigners to be in Singapore, for it appearsthe protest is about letting in too many people into Singapore.
Herein lies the rub: While officially we want foreign talent here to add vibrancy to the country, some bureaucrat somewhere (with his eye on promotion and a year end bonus) wants to make sure that no Malaysian stands there with a placard saying: “Viva Anwar Ibrahim, down with the Barisan Nasional” or something to that effect.
Such concerns reflect nothing but an irrational fear of foreigners; sometimes this is called: Xenophobia. But haven’t the high-powered intellects of bureaucratism heard that Xenophobia is not the in-thing these days? They ought to be ashamed of themselves. The cretins in the bureaucracy should also understand that the Malaysian prime minister has said that if his government is kicked out of office in the upcoming Malaysian general elections, there should be a smooth transfer of power. This must be a possibility for him to even state this.
In other words, it is in Singapore’s interests to also not seem antagonistic to any possible new government that may be formed in Malaysia: It’s called being politically savvy (and using common sense). But this is too much for Bureaucretins to wrap their minds around.
We would like to ask, for the sake of asking, the bureaucretinists a few questions if May Day protest organizers are held accountable for the presence/behaviour of foreigners:
- should the employers of foreigners and Singapore’s immigration authorities be held responsible for Malaysians who were seen in Singapore asking their compatriots to return home to cast their ballot?
- if permanent residents turned new citizens of Singapore make political statements about their former countries through placards at the May Day event, who is responsible: Those who gave them citizenship or does their new citizenship absolve them from investigation?
- what of locals who decide to make statements through placards about political issues in other countries?
- what is the point of bringing in potentially seven million people but show fear of foreigners at a protest that has not even taken place: A sign of hyper pathological xenophobia?
- why encourage foreigners to be here then quickly point out that they had better ‘behave themselves’ – but once there is a critical mass of foreigners in the country do you think that when push-comes-to-shove (pun unintended for those who complain about crowded public transport) and a controversial issue happens in their home countries, you can easily stop them from protesting if they want to? If problems ensue as a result, who bears responsibility for this?
This is the bottom line: If you want to open up Singapore to a greater foreign presence, get used to the fact that foreigners will be part of the activities of this country. You cannot invite them in then send them to internment camps once, at some stage, they disobey youen masse.
But grasping the reality of a situation is not what bureaucretins and self-interested elites are capable of.
* The writer is the editor of Philosophers for Change. He blogs at Singapore ideas, where a longer version of this post also appears. His other new sites are: Facebook and The postcapitalist discussion
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