Tensions between Filipino expat residents in Singapore and so-called hate bloggers and online trolls seems to be escalating. The Philippine embassy in Singapore has asked the Singapore government to hold accountable for inciting hatred a blogger who published an article on the site “Blood Stained Singapore” in which the Filipino community there was described as an “infestation”. Since its publication in late May, the article had gone ‘viral’ and has been the subject of much debate.
A report on the matter addressed to the Singapore Filipino community was posted in Tagalog on the website of the Philippine Embassy in Singapore on the 17th June. According to the report, the Philippine Embassy had lodged formal complaints with the appropriate authorities in Singapore to (a) highlight the community’s concerns regarding the repercussions of this blogger’s actions, and (b) take action within the framework of Singapore law against this person.
The other key messages of this report are:
(1) That the Embassy believes that the views expressed by the author of the offending blog post are his (or hers) alone;
(2) That Filipinos residing or working in Singapore should not stoop to the level of that blogger and desist from responding any further to such types of content online;
(3) That the community continue, instead, to focus on upholding its good relations with Singaporeans and be models of good manners and behaving in accordance to the law and being sensitive to local customs; and,
(4) That individual Filipinos take the necessary precautions and help Singapore authorities investigate threats against safety and security.
Police in Singapore have reportedly confirmed that “multiple” complaints have, in fact, actually been lodged.
Filipinos, for their part, have been known to be exceptionally sensitive to racial profiling. In Hong Kong today, Filipino maids working there are reportedly “up in arms” over an insurance commercial perceived to be “racist” in nature. The ad which pitches an insurance product provided by Hong Leong Bank of Malaysia shows a Chinese actor depicting a Filipino maid named Maria while wearing “dark orange make-up and a curly wig”.
“I think they should make a public apology,” Eni Lestari, spokeswoman for the Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body, told AFP, describing the ad as “very racist”.
“You are making comedy out of someone, out of a community,” she said. “For (Hong Kong residents) it’s funny, but what they don’t realize is what’s funny is actually racist.”
This follows a trumped-up row over Hong Kong school books depicting a Filipino as typically being a “domestic helper”. Images of the supposedly offensive page from the school book had also gone ‘viral’ and incited outrage amongst Filipinos both in Hong Kong and in the Philippines.
However, the fact remains that Filipinos working in Singapore and Hong Kong are predominantly employed as household help and, if not, are working in largely menial jobs, often under oppressive conditions. Many of these workers are university graduates who cannot find work in their home country owing to the inability of the Philippine economy to absorb the Philippines’ enormous labour supply. That Filipinos are willing to suffer those conditions far away from their families and other loved ones is a testament to the untenable way of life the majority of their compatriots suffer in their homeland.
For as long as Filipinos remain dependent on foreign employment (which accounts for a whopping 10 to 12 percent of the value of the Philippine economy) and for as long as economic growth there is almost entirely dependent on foreign capital to fuel it, very little beyond desperate diplomacy can be done by the Philippine government to address the root issues of the racial tensions Filipino overseas workers contend with.
[Photo courtesy SoloFlightEd.com.]
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