Apr 19, 2005

Of Singaporeans and Mongrels

I don't know about other "quitters", but this is perhaps the biggest reason why I choose not to return in the near future.

Not because FTs are taking our jobs.
Not because they are wasting our tax dollars on copulating cows.
Not because the IRAS cannot hire better IT subcontractors.

It's because I don't feel respected as a citizen of this country, by my own government.

I used to joke to my Taiwanese friends that the only thing useful about being a Singaporean is the passport (The Taiwanese need a visa for almost every country on Earth, poor things). Now perhaps, it probably IS the only thing of any value. But don't take my word for it.

Tigerprawn2 sums it up well in this post below.

DOGS AND SINGAPOREANS NOT ALLOWED?

When I heard on the radio this afternoon the government's decision to build casinos and IRs in Singapore, I was disappointed and sad. Not because the casinos will be built (in fact, I understand the economic benefits the IRs would bring and welcome the decision). I was disappointed because Singaporeans are not allowed entry into the casinos unless they pay an entrance fee of S$100 per day or an annual fee of S$2,000.

And in case you are thinking that my disappointment lies in the high entrance fee, it is not. I am disappointed because the entrance or annual fee requirement only applies to Singaporeans and not foreigners. Is the message here that foreigners enjoy higher rights than Singaporeans on our own Singapore soil? It does not help that my Malaysian friend immediately seized the opportunity to poke fun at me claiming superiority that he can enter freely the 2 casinos to be built on Singapore soil while I as a Singaporean am not allowed to enter unless I pay.

For the first time in my life, I felt almost like a second class citizen on my own homeland! The immediate scenario that rushes to my mind is pre-World War Two Shanghai in the 30's and 40's - there was a garden built on the Bund in Shanghai on Chinese soil but for the enjoyment of foreigners only with a signage at the gates "DOGS AND CHINESE NOT ALLOWED". Well, in this present case I suppose I should feel much better because as a Singaporean I would be allowed entry if I pay the entrance or annual fees but presumably a dog would not be able to pay an entrance or annual fee so technically there is no
way a dog can gain entry; so at least Singaporeans are one class above dogs.

Wait... I seem to recall a scene in the classic Bruce Lee cult movie "Fists of Fury" involving the aforesaid Shanghai Bund garden with the signage where a dog on leash was allowed entry into the garden when accompanying its foreign non-Chinese owner on a walk. So it remains unclear still whether a dog accompanying its foreign non Singaporean owner would be allowed entry into the casinos though I am assuming that the general rule is that dogs are not allowed in Casinos. For the time being, I am contented to just assume that. The other scenario that comes to my mind is british colonial days Hong Kong where the Hong Kong Turf Club and horse betting is only open to British citizens and foreigners whereas the local Chinese in Hong Kong are not allowed entry.

The first thought that comes to mind is what and how am I going to tell my foreign friends in explanation when they ask me why I as a Singaporean am not allowed into a casino on Singapore soil unless I pay while they as foreigners have free entry.

Do I reply that it is because the majority of Singaporeans are such imbeciles who lack the maturity, self-control and better judgment to refrain from becoming gambling addicts hence the need for the government to restrict the entry rights of Singaporeans? Which at least in my mind does not make sense because as rightfully pointed out, 30 years ago it may be right to not allow a casino in Singapore but 30 years later today where Singaporeans make some 4 million trips overseas annually and are well exposed to casinos and gambling worldwide, we are not a country of uneducated illiterate mountain turtle pheasants who will self-destruct once stepping into the casino.

So, what am I going to tell my foreign friends when they ask?

Yes, not allowing Singaporeans entry into the casinos unless they pay an entrance or annual fee will to some degree discourage and/or deter Singaporeans from entering the casinos and to that effect
reduce the possibility of gambling addictions amongst Singaporeans.

Even so, most Singaporeans today who will want to enter the casino to gamble will be able to afford the S$100 entry fee. So it is
not so much an issue of money. If an entry fee is to be imposed why is it not across the board applying to Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans as well? To draw such a line allowing free access and
entry to foreigners while "penalising" Singaporeans does nothing to the decreasing morale and feelings of the people, the Singapore people who make up and constitute Singapore.

It is one thing when there are no casinos on Singapore soil, but when casinos will be built on Singapore soil, why subject Singaporeans to a different set of stricter restrictions and control? Are Singaporeans such an inferior breed to foreigners that they need to be put on a leash if they want to play on a playground built on Singapore soil while foreigners can play freely in that playground anytime?

Already these few years nationalism has been low considering the increasing numbers of Singaporeans who leave Singapore, the "quitters". And there is rising unhappiness amongs Singaporeans with the foreign talents in Singapore who enjoy better salaries, treatment and live a better life in Singapore than most Singaporeans do. At least for myself, I really do not need such discrimination now on Singapore soil to make me feel worse than I already do like a second class citizen not just in Singapore but on earth, because anyone else on earth whether an Eskimo or African or Mongolian, so long as he or she is NOT a Singaporean, can enter the casinos to be built in Singapore freely while I, as a Singaporean am not allowed entry unless I pay.

Suppose when the Hong Kong Disney Land is completed, the Chinese government announces that Hong Kongers are not allowed entry into the Hong Kong Disney Land unless they pay a much higher entrance fee than foreigners for fear that they will become Disney Land addicts and start neglecting work and eventually leading to breakdown in society. Does this make sense? And if gambling is such an evil to be guarded against like how opium nearly destroyed China in the 19th Century and the majority of Singaporeans are naive halfwits who will become addicts as soon as they step into a casino, then obviously we should really question whether Singapore is truly ready for one.

Did I hear correctly that the IR (with the casinos) will change the skyline of Singapore? And this is the "new" Singapore that I as a Singaporean have to give my everything jointly with other fellow Singaporeans to build? A new Singapore where my rights are restricted one class below foreigners? Sure, maybe if this were really 30 or 40 years ago where the majority of Singaporeans were still not so educated and exposed internationally to the outside world as we are today, this kind of class system may be needed and may work.

But 30 years on today, the circumstances for that justification no longer exists. So while the Hong Kongers will certainly be very proud of their Hong Kong Disney Land when it is completed and will no doubt speak proudly of it to the world, the changed skyline of the new Singapore in the future featuring the new IR and casinos will only remain a constant reminder of my second class status as a Singaporean compared to foreigners in Singapore. Let's not even talk about being proud of it, I would not even want to talk or mention it to anyone in the world because it is a personal Singaporean embarrassment.

My personal feelings is that while such a discriminating system may do some good in the short term, in the long term it will only serve to further erode what little nationalism and patriotism Singaporeans have left towards Singapore. Which is more important? To further reduce the possibility of the 2% of Singaporeans who are prone to become casino addicts or the building of stronger nationalism and unity in hard times so that the people of Singapore can stand together as one to pull and push through to better times? In any case, it is also my humble opinion that probably a very large majority of that 2% of Singaporeans who are prone to becoming casino addicts will be able to afford the S$100 entrance fee and will still set foot in the casino anyway; and hence will become casino addicts anyway whether or not there is an entrance or annual fee for Singaporeans only.

13 comments:

TriplePeriod said...

I share similar sentiments too. I was reply to your posting but realise I had too much to write, so it ended up in a posting on my blog here.

Also, nice picks for your Radio blogs. Kewl. Regarding the Timmy Perez number, can you direct me on how to get this song? I think it was simply an mp3 posting online, was it right?

ahmad said...

tripleperiod: Roger your views too. As for the Timmy Perez number, I got it via mr. brown here:

http://www.mrbrown.com/blog/2005/04/a_brown_music_m.html
http://sarongpartyfrens.com/archives/2005/01/26/living-room-acoustic-rock/

Get it while it's still hot!

aGent X said...

that hit the spot!

my sentiments exactly...

FF said...

aiyo.. the more ridiculous thing is that PRs also have to pay the entry fee. WTF?! I'm Malaysian PR yet I cannot go in. Grrr

Miss Mumble said...

hhhmm....
i actually donno what to say..
i is a mere housewife..

i just HAD to bloghop here..ur url is way too cute to ignore...
may I link u up??

ahmad said...

agentX: yah man, being $100 down before you hit the tables really sucks...

ff: at LEAST they don't discriminate by the colour of your IC... ;P

miss mumble: of course! the more the merrier!! :D

Anonymous said...

Vicious cycle... Knowing you lost $100 b4 u even start, u will want to win it back at the tables... Well wad are the chances? Doesn't it result in you playing longer? = addiciton or wadsoever?

Huichieh said...

Inviting you to share this post here

ahmad said...

anonymous: Interesting comment, maybe I'll post something with regards to that.

huichieh: You are most welcome to quote from this site! :)

KnightofPentacles said...

Trackback:
Singapore Serf - Fragments 05.

I try to avoid writing of my discontent with certain aspects of the Singapore system that I am unhappy with. Nobody wants to read a whiny blog indulging in the Singapore recreation of complaining about everything under the sun. Besides, I try to be a practical person. If a course of action (of bitching) does not bring to a configuration closer to a solution, it is usually a waste of limited resources. So I borrow other people's words, to offer an insight to some of the discontent I share.

matahati said...

Hi Ahmad,

Your writing is very interesting.

Personally I feel the governemtn should not open the casino in th

matahati said...

Hi,

Your writing is very interesting. But let me tell you my life story.

I was born in Indonesia, and stayed in China for altogether 6-7 years. Some of my brothers are abroad, in Canada & USA.

From all our experience, we can say that Singapore is one of the best place for Asian to live in.

:)

ridjal said...

Hi Ahmad,
Your entry has been an eye-opening read. Thank you.