Apr 6, 2005

Singapore - The 24th province?

China is administratively divided into 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 centrally administrative municipalities and 2 special administrative regions (SAR).
-- www.chinatoday.com
I was waiting for the MRT at Tampines, and a quick scan of the numerous faces on the platform revealed not a small number of ladies with fair-complexion from the Motherland. As I got on the train, my trained ears (purposefully?) detected heavily-accented Beijing Mandarin and some totally incomprehensible provincial dialect on more than one occasion.

Perhaps our dear Gahmen has overdone the "attracting skilled Chinese foreign-talent" thing? At least from the fair-skinned young ladies or dark-complexioned labourer-like male counterpart, little gave the impression of "talent", more like "make enough money then chabut back to my village and live like a king".

Back in my university days, there was already a sizeable Chinese student population, especially in the postgraduate programmes, outnumbering locals by 2-1 (in my faculty). Numerous as they were, there wasn't yet a sense then that they'd be in direct competition with us for jobs.

Several years on, the little red dot seems to be overrun with them.

The other day I was watching the news on CNA about the SNOC arranging a monthly activity for fellow Singaporean Olympians to get to know each other, and they interviewed a Singaporean Olympian (judging from her heavy accent) who emigrated here from China. Yes, she's now Singaporean and representing the country for the Olympics and all, but listening to her perfect Beijing Mandarin about how she'll do her best for Singapore somehow doesn't really cut it.

Seeing an middle-aged man in shorts and slippers putting his arm over the shoulder of his young-enough-to-be-his-daugther China bride/girlfriend doesn't help their image either.

As a foreigner in a foreign land, I also do not wish to be the subject of xenophobia. But as they say, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do"? For the past few years that I have spent in Taiwan, I have enjoyed learning and experiencing the Taiwanese culture, including all the idiosyncracies that come with it, and along the way met some of the most friendly and welcoming people.

Some friends say I've assimilated so well that they ask me when I'll becoming a citizen here. But that's not my point.

How many FTs is enough? Attracting foreigners to fill voids in high-level managerial positions is one thing, but pulling in the foreign (dare I say Trash?) to compete with your local Tan Ah Kow and still insist on calling all of them "talent" is quite another.

Welcome to Hotel Singapura
You can check out anytime you like
And even leave (only if you're not Singaporean)

4 comments:

aGent X said...

well done with the writing.
i concur totally :)

Anonymous said...

Glad to have independent confirmation from somebody who has not been back for a while.

For a while, I was worried that xe

KnightofPentacles said...

Glad to have independent confirmation from somebody who has not been back for a while.

For a while, I was worried that xenophobia was overtaking reason..

[ no idea what happened to mess up my previous attempt to comment ]

ahmad said...

agentx: Thanks, it was the first thing I had to get off my chest after returning back.

knightofpentacles: Said situation was exactly as described over the Net, perhaps even more so, unfortunately.