The term “FT” is Singapore’s unique colloquialism. It means “Foreign Talent” and is the latest notorious entry into the local jargon. The mention of FT invokes sentiments of xenophobia. It is tragic. It shouldn’t be that way. Singaporeans of the first generation were generous and hardworking migrants. The young men, now with graying hair, were enlisted into compulsory conscription to serve the country as it emerged from the cocoon as a new nation. Barely 50 years have gone by since. The first 3 decades were tough years but most citizens cherish those moments. Suddenly, something sinister crept surreptitiously into the nation in the last decade. The cheerful spirit floated away. Today, “contempt” is being felt at the mention of FT. The troubling question is WHY?The ailing patriarch Lee Kuan Yew is still alive today. Unfortunately, under the helms of Lee’s son, the sentiments of the population have gone south. The populace is crying and groaning, only to hear echoes of their own faint voices. Social cracks were already visible 2 decades ago. Local writer Catherine Lim wrote a commentary “The PAP and the People – A Great Affective Divide” enunciating the growing chasm and discontent between the “metropoliticans” and the “heartlanders”. These were the terms coined by the ruling elite to mean the “haves” and the “have nots” in more gentle and politically correct terms. Catherine’s critique was succinct and balanced. Instead of conferring her a national accolade, she was given a public flogging for her thoughts. That was a public warning against voices of dissent even if it was meant for good. In way, that ushered the start of Singapore’s decline.
Social media provides a glimpse of sentiments. While not necessarily precise, a quick glean across the social media indicates failed policies by the current people in power as the major reason for the current state of affairs. Catherine’s “great divide” is now a full blown grand canyon. Going back history, it wasn’t that long ago that the citizens of Singapore embarked on a journey of nation building as an independent nation. In 1963, the British left the governance of the obscure colony of less than 2 million people for self government. The first generation politicians went through a tumultuous relationship with the Federation of Malaysia before breaking free in 1965 into a fully independent republic.
Singapore is purportedly the wealthiest nation in the world, per capita wise. But wealth is abnormally distributed with only a handful owning the most wealth. There is yet another hideous problem beyond just wealth accumulation and distribution. It is the sudden surge in foreign population “imported” by the government. From the 2 million (largely citizens) in 1965, Singapore is now bursting at its seams with 5.6 million people squeezed into 600 sq km of land. At the same time, social infrastructure did not keep pace with the sudden influx of FTs. Trains, public transport and public facilities are jammed with people, mostly FT’s.
The demography now is disproportionately tilted towards a foreign based population. The native population has grown marginally from 2 million at independence (1965) to 2.5 million now. The total population has more than doubled to 5.6 million since independence! Taking away the reported 200,000 citizens not living in Singapore, the population has largely been replaced by FTs! It is no longer the Singapore it used to be.
Yet, the groans of citizens are simply cast aside. There are no visible plans by the establishment to mitigate the gnawing social problems and crumbling infrastructure. Instead, seemingly oblivious to public opinions, the ruling elites added fuel to the burning platform by insisting that more people will be imported to bring the population to 6.9 million. The former chief planner Liu Thai Ker, presumably with the blessing of the elite, nailed the final nail into the coffin with his recent proposal to take Singapore beyond 6.9 million to 10 million! The establishment is insistent to escalate population growth in defiance of public outcry.
There’s only one possible conclusion to the events happening here. People are either totally daft or the elite ruling party is completely blind and deaf. Certainly, it could be both. It takes two to entangle.
And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of mypeople which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;