Sing-guilt and Two Less Transient Workers to Count

13 Jan

‘White Guilt’ is a term used to describe the collective guilt felt by white people for acts of slavery and racism (past and present) meted upon their black or minority brethren. As a result, ‘white guilt’ drives white folk into acts of charity and campaign championing out of guilt and pity. Paradoxically, their superficial acts of charity reinforce societal segregation (master-slave relationship) and redraw the line in the sand.

 

To draw an example, a socialite might attend a gala dinner in benefit of impoverished black youths but run for the hills when passed a group of black youths in an alley. To put it crudely, “I apologise for the suffering of your people, here is some money, but please don’t come to my neighbourhood”.

 

Our own Singaporean-styled ‘white-guilt’ (sing-guilt) is in itself a sight to behold. We pride ourselves for our multiculturalism. A shining example of racial and religious tolerance. We claim to care for the less affluent and champion for the rights of the transient workers on whose backs our city was built and continues to be built, cleaned and serviced.

 

But when it comes to crunch time, we adopt a ‘Singaporeans First Policy’ and ‘Not My BackYard’ mentality. Think the numerous anti-Foreign Talent whine-posts on TOC, populous political manifestos, and the uproar over the Serangoon Gardens worker dormitory.

 

Sing-guilt leads some to assert loudly and proudly that “Transient Workers Count Too”, but subsequent actions betray the underlying thought “but I wish there were less of them to count”.

 

My attention was drawn to yesterday’s news of two local activists arrested for staging a protest in support of two Myanmar nationals that have been effectively booted out of Singapore (through non-renewals of their visas) for their participation in protest activities.

 

The legality of the arrests and non-renewal of the workers’ visas is arbitrary and I suspect, of fleeting interest to the majority of the population. Yet it warranted an official reply from MHA and MOM. To put some perspective, the last group of persons to be arrested for their sing-guilt activities was 5 SDP members in Oct 2007. Their pro-democracy petition to the Myanmese embassy garnered 1,200 signatories. Now compare that to the 40,000 signatories in Singapore for a petition to end animal cruelty. Imagine that. We are 40 times more likely to campaign for animal rights than human rights.

  

As far as i am concerned (to do a spin on a classic phrase): The unemployment of two is a tragedy while the unemployment of thousands is a statistic. If that doesnt disturb you i dont know what will.

 

So before you wag your self-righteous finger at me, remember that in the end, the same people that cry injustice and pen down their names in remembrance with one hand, will sign away the rights of thousands of their countrymen with the other hand.

 

* Dedicated to the self-righteous colleague who was kind enough draw my attention to the article and my unsympathetic heart

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3 Responses to “Sing-guilt and Two Less Transient Workers to Count”

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 14 Jan 2009 - January 14, 2009

    […] Protest – Unbranded Bread n Butter: Sing-guilt and Two Less Transient Workers to Count [Thanks Roti John] – Chemical Generation Singapore: A Protest […]

  2. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Weekly Roundup: Week 03 - January 17, 2009

    […] [SDP’s] pro-democracy petition to the Myanmese embassy garnered 1,200 signatories. Now compare that to the 40,000 signatories in Singapore for a petition to end animal cruelty. Imagine that. We are 40 times more likely to campaign for animal rights than human rights. So before you wag your self-righteous finger at me, remember that in the end, the same people that cry injustice and pen down their names in remembrance with one hand, will sign away the rights of thousands of their countrymen with the other hand. Unbranded Bread and Butter […]

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