One of the latest stories going round the internet is the story on how three expatriates assualted a few Singaporeans outside Suntec City in 2011. The rub of the story is not so much the fact that three Pink Blotchies decided to behave a typical Blotchy fashion after a few too many, but the fact that the police proved to be totally incompetent. Somehow, the police decided that they couldn't be arsed to do their job and two out of the three blotchies were allowed to run home and the one who did face the music faced a grand total of three weeks in jail for causing serious bodily hurt to several people. I won't go into the details as the incident has been well doccumented by Andrew Loh, the editor of Public House in his piece - “Minister Teo should explain handling of Suntec City assault case.”
Reactions on the net have been understandably angry. The tollerance and love that Singaporeans have for Pink Blotchies has for the moment been exchanged for the resentment that many feel against forigners in general. There's also been plenty of anger at the way the Singapore Police Force has managed the case. The feeling is that the police simply couldn't be bothered and because the three blotchies came from “Blotchy Land” (New Zealand, Australia and the UK), the government allowed them to flee rather than to avoid a diplomatic row.
My personal feelings are this – the three need to face the full force of the law in Singapore. A crime was comitted here and the perpetrators need to face the music, whatever their nationality. Singapore prides itself in the rule of law and so, we actually need to show that it exist. By allowing the three clowns to flee we have shown that the message is this – there is one law for Pink Blotchies and Elite Singaporeans and another for the Poor and Darkies from elsewhere.
My stance remains this – if the police and the justice system do not do their job and enforce the laws, the people have every right to defend themselves by whatever means. We, the people have a moral obligation to dispense street justice everytime the system lightens the load off some thug who happens to be of a pale complextion. Singaporeans need to stand up for themselves in the same way that they do in other parts of Asia.
Yes,Blotchies are revered in Thailand as much as they are here and perhaps more so. However, the Pink Blotchies understand that there are certain boundaries that they don't cross. Take the example of a couple of drunken German tourist who thought it was fun to rip a Thai Bhat note right where the king's portrait was. The Thai people rightly decided to wack the living day lights out of them and beat them within an inch of their lives. The police allowed it to happen.
I also respect the Turks for not taking shit. Two yobs from Leeds decided that it was fun to use the Turkish flag as toilet paper and they proceeded to do it in public view of people in Istanbul. My gut reaction is not, “Oh, poor things, they were just silly,” it's this - “Don't tread on other people's heritage.” I remember telling an Afghani lady that the two people I respect most on this planet are Afghanis and Vietnamese – the guys who tried to invade them always walked away with a bloody nose.
Having said all of that, I also look back to the way I think the public reaction would have been if the incident took place in the UK, where I spent my formative years.
Funnily enough, I think the three yobs wold have been lynched by White Anglo-Saxons who would have ben enraged of what would have been played out as a “racist” incident. I had two personal incidents and saw one on TV, which gives me tremendous faith in the British people.
The first incident came in my first year of school when someone made a racial remark, which I took to heart. A fight took place. What's interesting about this was one of the students from the year above went to the guy and threatened to wack him if he heard of any racist behaviour towards me.
The second incident came much later in life when I had to serve on an English jury. The jury was filled with White English Working Class people. The case was that of a young Lebanese boy who had been in a scuffle with White English Policemen. Let me tell you, each and every one of my colleagues were on the side of the Lebanese boy. One of them remarked publically, “I'd let him off just for hitting a policeman.”
The third incident that comes to mind was when Shillpa Shetty was racially abused by the late Jade Goody. Channel Four studio was besieged by protest from White English people who were disgusted by the way one of their own had behaved.
I'm not saying that racism does not exist in the West. It clearly does and in horrible forms. Segragation may have been removed from the statuate books in the 60s but it exist in voluntary forms. I think of the wonderful line in “Live and Let Die,” the 1971 Bond movie, which had James Bond entering Harlem - “it's like following a cue ball.” There are some neighbourhoods where White People enter at their peril and there are some neighbourhoods where Blacks don't even think of entering no matter how much money they have.
However, from what I experienced from life in the UK and visiting Europe and the USA, is that skin colour isn't much of a factor. Things like education and social class tend to be more important factors. I take my aversion to your average English football fan. I shudder whenever I think of group of this species gathering and trying to sound intelligent. Then again, I don't think my reaction towards this group is that different from the reaction of people like my good friends Corvin and Vincent, who have been happily living in London.
Generally speaking, Westerners are accepting of foreigners provided the forigners stick to their own space and live quietly. Resentment comes mainly when you come to a country and expect to enjoy the benefits of the social system without putting back. I think I've said this more than once, my stepfather works in a hospital that caters to near Eastern migrants who's only word of German they've learnt is the place for the welfare office. Think of this from the average German's perspective - “I work hard, I pay my taxes and the lot of you come over here and live off my taxes.”
If you are, however, do work and don't try and sponge off the locals, you are left alone. The Old Rogue always tells me, “There is no prejudice against Chinese in America – they refused to take welfare and ran businesses.” Chinese and Vietnamese and South Korean communities do well because they are quiet and entrepreneurial. It takes a generation or two for the kids to look at working in a big company rather than in a laundromat or a restaurant. Yes, these communities have developed fearsome gangsters (notice that when Austrlian biker gangs get out of hand …. they avoid the Vietnamese communities – they know what's good for them), but by and large they coexist with the rest of society.
So, when you get groups of people quietly coexisting peacefully for long enough, they tend to ignore skin colour and look other factors. In such situations you look at decent and awful behaviour for what it is rather than who perpetrates it.
While the nasty racial incidents make the headlines, the West has actually done quite well by being fairly open to immigration.
Things are different in Singapore. We're told that we, the locals have to accept foreigners to drive economic growth. There are however, two classes of foreigners – namely the talents and the workers. The talents are supposed to be the people “we need” and therefore have to welcome with open arms. The workers are the people that we are supposedly doing a favour for by letting them work at starvation wages for the task we don't want to do.
I can accept that foreigners do come with necessary skills and much of the money in Singapore actually comes from elsewhere.
However, if you look at the way things have been communicated, the message is clear – there are several classes of human beings and we, the locals are not the top of the proverbial tree. Imigration policy has been translated into culture.
I look at the way the police look after Geylang. They're all over the place, either in uniform or as plane cloths officers. Geylang is filled with local Singaporeans as well as workers from India, Bangladesh and China. Hence, the assumption is there is going to be trouble at any given moment. By contrast, the police always ensure they are at the other end of the road whenever Orchard Towers gets into full flow – why? Orchard Towers is filled with Pink Blotchies who are saintly people even if they're doing exactly what the darkies in Geylang are doing. I've been with Indian workers and Fillippina girls when they've been cautioned by the police for the crime of sitting outside and having a beer while up the road you've had Pink Blotchies doing exactly the same thing.
One of the ironies of this situation is that foreign workers are amongst the most law abbiding citizens in Singapore. If you follow the statistics provided by Transient Workers Count Too (Twc2), this section of society is statistically the least likely to commit a crime. Yet the police see them as the most threatening to society.
To problem with this policy is that when put into practice, you actually create a situation of having three different laws. There's the laws for the dark people. A law for the locals and then there's a law for the sanctified blotchies. Now, how do you call it rule of law.
My mother took issue with the fact that in the previous posting I had brought up the case of Michael Faye, the American teenage vandal who had spray painted a few cars. I contend that Mr Faye was an expat brat who could take the good things Singapore has to offer but couldn't take the “other” side of Singapore and went squealing to the embassy. My Mum believes that the US government was doing what all governments should do and protecting its citizens.
One of other things that has never been brought up is the fact that Michael Faye was the last diplomatic row that we had with the USA. Suddenly, Singapore has become afriad of of getting into a row with Western countries. I have to ask myself why?
Let's face it, the Western countries are not about to pull out their military or economic presence in Singapore because we hang a few mules. So, why do we need to give people holding American or European passports special treatment in order to avoid a diplomatic row. The diplomats were not going to get expelled because we canned Mr Faye!
If you talk to enough Westerners in their own country, you'll find that they support our right to enforce our laws. During Micael Faye there were many Americans who thought America should have canning. When we hanged an Austrlian for drug trafficking, our news rooms had letters from Australia telling us that we were doing the right thing. I remember one of my English friends saying, “If you can live in Singapore and take money from Singapore, you got to be prepared to face the justice system there. If you don't like it – bugger off.”
So, why has the application of law become different when it comes to Westerners? After Michael Faye, we had a US serviceman punching a Singaporean and when the issue was brought up – the American Ambassador of the day had a field day reminding us how we should be greatful to American servicemen. By contrast, whenever US servicemen misbehaves in Japan, you get the US Ambassador grovelling infront of whatever provincial governor of whichever province where the misdeed took place.
Why can't we have an equal dialogue with the West when it comes to the enforcement of our laws? People invest in Singapore because it has laws to protect everybody rather than laws to protect people who invest differently from those who don't.
I agree with Andrew Loh, the Ministry of Home Affairs has to provide answers. How is it that we can cane, hang, castrate etc a Bangladeshi for going on strike when he hasn't been paid several months wages, yet when three Pink Blotchies beat people up, they're given their passports and allowed to run away. By contrast, when a Nepali guy breaks the nose (beyond surgery) of a Pink Blotchy who assaulted his boss – we deport the guy on the spot – no questions asked.
You can't tell me its because we need one group more than the other. You can't tell me that Western countries invest so much more than Darky Countries (Western countries being in extra need of investment themselves). You can't tell me that Pink Blotchies are harder working (just drop by my Old Neighbourhood in Soho to see Blotchy Industry at its best). You can't tell me that Blotchies are more intelligent (Afirmative Action in the US was designed to keep Asians out of universities in favour of White ones, as much as it was to get Blacks in).
So here's the question – is there a law for Pink Blotchies and a law for other people in Singapore? If there is, there's a good reason why one shouldn't invest in Singapore.