Monday, October 01, 2012

Nothing Wrong With Importing Talent: Now, Export the Duds!

Cyberspace is becoming wonderfully predictable these days. If you go onto any web site that claims to talk about Singapore politics, the inevitable topic of “foreigners” will glare at you like a boil on some one’s nose?

As far as Singapore’s keyboard warriors are concerned, every social issue in Singapore boils down to one fact – the fact that we’ve let in too many foreigners. The keyboard warriors are particularly upset that we’ve let in lots of people from Asia. Apparently, this group is stealing jobs from Singaporeans and if they’re not stealing jobs from Singaporeans, they’re driving wages so low that it’s impossible for decent Singaporeans to make a living.

It’s easy to blame foreigners for everything. I also agree that Singapore has issues. However, our solutions or rather the solution is the wrong one. Instead of trying to halt the inflow of foreigners into Singapore, we should be looking at exporting our duds to savory places like North Korea and Sudan.

Let’s face it; the foreigners in Singapore are not the worst of the worst. Much as we may not like to admit it, they do bring in capital and skills. My “Singaporean” Indian friends might object violently but I believe that one of the best examples of “necessary” talents is the Indian Nationals who have come to Singapore. I think of the chaps at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Alumni Association. It’s not just big shots from Indian Companies like Supriyo Sircar, CEO of Polaris Asia-Pacific. You have chaps like Dhruv Jain, a young engineer from Energizer and you have entrepreneurs like Balwant Jain who set up Optimum Solutions and Harish Nim who set up Emerio – successful companies in the high value industry that Singapore so desperately needs.

Even the chaps at the low end of the market are fairly decent. Look, they’re all “working” in the rough jobs that Singaporeans won’t do. They are NOT stealing from Singaporeans nor are they screwing the Singapore tax payer out of welfare benefits – I have yet to meet a “foreign worker” beggar. They work hard to provide Singaporeans with many of the amenities they enjoy. This lot is also fairly law abiding. I’ve yet to hear of a Singaporean being beaten up by a “Bangla” worker – by contrast, you do hear of Westerners beating up people after a few too many.

So, let’s be honest here – how can you argue that people who come here to contribute their labour are social problem? It’s downright ingenious for people to assume that Singaporeans will rush to join construction sites or food and beverage outlets once you kick out the “foreign labourers.” The proposals to replace foreign labour with the local variety are laughable. The premise works on “kick out the able bodied foreign worker and replace them with the elderly and crippled.” I say, as long as foreigners are willing to work, we should let them.

What we really need to do is to export duds and believe you me, Singapore is filled with them. You’re talking about people who believe that they are “entitled” to this and that and won’t lift a finger to do anything productive. Everything it seems is way beneath them.

In the Chinese community, this group can be found in the Ka Ni Na (Hokkien Chinese for mother f***) Family. Jie-Jie (Older Sister) Ka Ni Na is a typical Singapore Chinese graduate. She claims to have found herself a highly paid job and she’s proud of the fact that she’s too educated to know what to do around the house, unlike her half educated mother.

Jie-Jie Ka Ni Na’s actual job was to find herself a nice “Ang Moh” (Caucasian) husband. This husband happens to own a highly successful restaurant that has a monthly turn-over that is the equivalent of buying a small car. Once in a while she pretends to be a cashier at his restaurant. After half an hour, the work usually gets too strenuous for her and so she sits in a corner trying to get the staff to pay attention to her, just as the staff is trying their best to deal with twelve different things at once.

To be fair to Jie-Jie Ka Ni Na, she’s a very filial daughter. She’s tried to get Di-Di (Younger Brother) Ka Ni Na a job in her husband’s restaurant as a ….cashier. Unfortunately Di-Di didn’t want to do the job. In his words, “I cannot slack….ah.”  So Jie-Jie went and got her Mummy a job and every so often she drops by the restaurant to make sure Mummy helps her sow buttons on her blouse because her “idiot” maid couldn’t do it the way she wanted it done.

The Indian Community has the “Pundek (Tamil for c****) Family.”  While the Ka Ni Na Family is manipulative, whinny and materialistic, the Pundeks are lazy and prone to trying to sponge off everything that walks.

Pundek’s are highly allergic to work, that is if you don’t consider trying to get freebies off your relatives and your friends to be work. Apparently, the Pundek Family, particularly the men are particularly prone to this thing called “dignity.” It is apparently shameful to wash dishes, drive taxis and so on. It is perfectly ok to get your family and friends to pay for every small need that you have.

One of the biggest frustrations that the Pundek’s have is the fact that the “welfare” system in Singapore is called “Workfare.” To get money out of the Singapore government, you need to be in a job of sorts for two out of every three month period.

It’s not actually complicated to get “workfare.” All you need to do is to find someone willing to contribute a bit of money to your CPF (Singapore’s version of social security – it’s like a compulsory savings). Unfortunately, employers have a nasty habit of expecting you to do something for them in return, even if it’s just to wipe a few tables one day a week. Wiping tables is apparently “undignified” and therefore too much work for a few lousy bucks.

I suppose the Pundek’s allergy to work wouldn’t be so noticeable, if they were not so status conscious. If you were kind enough to offer to buy a Pundek a coffee in a coffee shop, they’ll kick a fuss and suggest that you take them out to somewhere a bit more upmarket or at least has air-conditioning. The Younger Generation of this family always likes to put on a show of generosity. They’ll offer to buy you a meal at somewhere fairly pricy, then order everything under the sun and then, when it comes to time to pick up the tab…..ooopppppsss, they’ll suggest that you pay first and they’ll pay you back sometime in the not too distant future …what they don’t tell you is that key word here is distant.

Now, I put it this way to you – who is a bigger social problem – the foreign worker cleaning the streets and working on the construction site or members of the Ka Ni Na and Pundek families?

I’m off the view that what we need to do to solve our social problems is to “export” Ka Ni Na’s and Pundeks rather than block the importing of foreigners. This would have plenty of practical benefits. Once you export members of these respective families, you would increase productivity and allow the people who supported members of this family to keep more of the money they work for. This in turn will ensure that money will go to where it’s needed most.

Think about it, exporting duds is a far more effective solution than blocking the importation of foreigners to do work.


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