Yes, Singapore’s Foreign Worker Problem, which really isn’t a Foreign Worker Problem at all, but a Fallacy Of Entitlement Problem, and which happens to be our biggest FOE, the enemy of our continued success.
Yet another round of discussions, debates, assertions, suggestions and other uselessly sanctimonious vows to improve the lot of Foreign Workers, whether they actually have it better here than perhaps in other places. Stop it.
We need to be the foundation of our own success; economically, socially, spiritually, geopolitically and in any other respects I might have missed out on, and for which you no doubt have some adjective that you swear by. If we think that hard, manual labour is somehow “demeaning”, or that it is our privilege to outsource the care and education of our own children to others, or that cleaning the streets, our neighbourhoods and the tables in our hawker centres is the job of the scum of our society, then we need to prove without a doubt that we are so busy creating more and more value for everyone all round that it is better for others to do those tasks for us! I don’t see very much proof of that, I’m afraid. Maybe I’m myopic and have missed out on something that’s clear to you, so how about someone pointing it out to me?
It used to be that a military officer had a personal assistant, what the British called a “batman” and what we used to call a “runner”. That wasn’t because officers were entitled to such services, it was because officers were so busy running things and getting stuff done and continuously looking out for ways they could improve the overall operational readiness of the outfits they happened to be in!
Talking about Singapore’s Foreign Worker Problem is circumventing the real issue. I have been asking continuously what it is we produce, whether in terms of goods or services, that the rest of the world, including our own people, would be happy to pay for. If people from other nations flock to our shores in droves, seeking how they might find a better life through us, isn’t that good? Foreign Workers are like the children a family has. Having children doesn’t mean we’ve started a family. It means we’ve expanded the family. Husband and wife are already a family, and if you have other views on what should constitute a family, that is not the focus of this post, you’re welcome to talk to me separately about it.
So stop specious arguments about Foreign Worker Problems. We don’t have a Foreign Worker Problem. We have a maturity problem. We need to grow up.