Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rebut the Rebuttal

Cleverly, Dr Wong decided that he should never take my words lying down.

He responded to my rebuttal. It made it to the online ST forum.

Dec 11, 2007

Attitude towards foreigners - we can do better

I REFER to the letter, 'Xenophobic? Problem not unique to Singapore' by Mr Sing Keng Loon (ST, Dec 7).
I thank the writer for his response. In the letter, the writer makes a few pertinent points and I would like to respond to them.

It is true that xenophobia and discrimination also exist in democratic societies. To be sure, when I was living in Australia, I was, on a few occasions, at the receiving end of xenophobic and discriminatory acts.

In fact, a good friend of mine is currently engaged in a court case with a local newspaper for allowing the publication of offensive, homophobic remarks.

However, on the basis of my experience, these acts don't seem to be representative of Australian culture at large.

Although some Singaporeans use Pauline Hanson as an example of discrimination in Australia, there is no evidence to suggest that she is accepted by the majority in Australia. In fact, I don't think she is.

On the other hand, the word 'foreigner', which is used frequently and unremarkably in Singaporean discourse, seems to reflect an aspect of Singapore culture - our divisive 'us vs them' attitude towards people from overseas working here.

It seems that this divisive attitude is, to a certain extent, characteristic of Singaporean culture and my previous letter was trying to address that.

It is also true, I think, that discrimination among Singaporeans is minimal in Singapore and we have a lot to be thankful for. However, I don't think I can say the same thing about our attitude towards overseas people working here.

Even if we are doing well, I think we can do even better.

I fully concur with the writer that we should 'take steps to educate the population, so as to reduce... such sentiments in the long term.'

Wong Jock Onn

-courtesy of Straits Times

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