So while the French are stuck with 5 million Muslims, Singaporeans are stuck with almost 200,000 Filipinos. France, of course, has bigger problems. The Muslim population there is proportionately bigger at 7.5 percent of the population. Filipinos “guests” in Singapore, on the other hand, make up less than 4 percent. Many French Muslims are citizens. But, in Singapore, guest workers hardly ever make Singaporean citizenship.
What both countries have in common though is that both likely ended up with this immigrant population because of the usual afflictions affluent societies suffer nowadays — ageing populations, and workforces raised with a sense of entitlement that makes them disinclined to take on “dirty” jobs. That’s the void workers from the Third World come in in droves to gleefully fill. Armed with a work ethic bolstered by the low standards of living in their home countries that make them more appreciative of even the smallest improvements in working conditions and, of course, the relatively “high” salaries offered by even minimum-wage work in the First World, Third World “guest” workers are a force to reckon with.
Unfortunately, relying on cheap labour from impoverished nations comes at a cost. And France and Singapore have started to grow weary of this cost. To be fair, of course, Filipino immigrants do not go out and massacre “journalists” who make it their daily mission to publish provocative cartoons of people’s gods and prophets. But, at the end of the day, an elephant being shot in the head and one being infected with a lethal germ both end up dead. The difference lies in how long each of the two types of foreign agents inhabiting its body takes to kill it.
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Of late, Filipinos have been making waves in Singapore — the wrong sorts of waves, that is. A certain Filipino nurse, Ello Ed Mundsel Bello, is currently in hot water over “offensive” messages he alledgedly published on the Net which resulted in his employer, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) firing him…
TTSH said [on its Facebook page], “Mr Bello had joined us in October 2014 and had been under probation.
“In the course of our investigations, we were alerted to and reviewed three earlier online posts made by Mr Bello in 2014 that touched on race and religion:
i) An offensive Facebook comment on Singapore;
ii) Two offensive comments on religion on his Google Plus page
“Mr Bello has confirmed that he had made these three posts.
“These comments were highly irresponsible and offensive to Singapore and religion. They have distressed members of the public and our hospital staff. His conduct goes against our staff values of respect, professionalism and social responsibility. As a public healthcare institution, we take a very serious view and have zero tolerance on conduct that is offensive and detrimental to multi-cultural harmony in Singapore.”
Bello allegedly posted comments on his Facebook profile calling Singaporeans “loosers” (sic) and that he is “praying that disators (disasters) will strike Singapore”.
This follows many other incidents involving Filipinos working in Singapore that have annoyed Singaporeans prompting us to ask an earlier question in light of this: Why do Singaporeans hate Filipinos? This confronting question seems to be increasingly relevant at Singapore’s grassroots despite the Philippine and Singapore governments’ attempts to skirt the evident realities underlying it. An Inquirer report for example whose placement was seemingly “sponsored” by an association of Filipino architectural firms asserts that Filipinos architects are the most “sought after” in Singapore, in an apparent salute to the standard Philippine government tagline which maintains that Filipinos “remain an important part of the city-state economy”.
More and more Singaporeans are reportedly becoming less-inclined to be moved by these “positive” messages and are growing “uneasy” with the increasing presence of foreign workers amongst them including Filipino workers who remain “mostly domestic workers”…
The proportion of foreigners has nearly doubled to 29 percent in that same period. Some Singaporeans have complained about crowded public transport, high housing prices, and a lack of good jobs. The citizen unemployment rate remains low at 3 percent.
Widespread unhappiness led to the ruling People’s Action Party scoring its lowest-ever share of votes in the 2011 general election. Since then the government has made it more difficult to hire cheap foreign labour, and incentivised productivity and innovation – but progress has been slow.
The Philippine government for its part has been trying to mitigate the growing backlash against Filipinos’ perceived ill manners in Singapore by reportedly implementing mandatory training courses on ‘social media etiquette’ for departing overseas workers…
Malacañang is eyeing adding social media etiquette in pre-departure seminars for overseas Filipino workers, following a report that a Filipino nurse was sacked from a Singapore hospital over supposed anti-Singapore Facebook comments.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said they will make that suggestion to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
Trouble is, Filipinos’ challenges with learning proper manners goes beyond Facebook-centred solutions as social media behaviour often just mirrors the underlying character of its user base. Unlike Singapore, which, under the stewardship of its legendary leader Lee Kuan Yew, mounted a society-wide social engineering program to change traditional behaviours (like spitting in public) and instill the right attitudes and proper internationally-accepted basic manners and courtesies, the Philippines has had to rely on its family institution for the same training. Ironically, it is this very foundational institution — the Fiipino nuclear family — that is rapidly-deteriorating thanks to the misguided race for foreign employment that the Philippine government has encouraged its citizens to pursue for decades. And even for those who manage to stay and find employment in the Philippines’ rapidly-expanding outsourcing services industry, the unholy hours workers keep in these organisations thanks to clients situated in different timezones all over the world, have devastating effects on personal and family wellbeing just the same.
Simply-put, there really is only just one sustainable path for any country. And it involves building a self-sufficient economy where people consume mainly what is produced within their shores by industries built by capital created and sourced primarily through domestic and inherent capabilities.
That Filipinos are being treated “badly” in Singapore is not the root problem. The root problem here is the sad reality that Filipinos are trooping to Singapore to find work to begin with.
And, to the First World, perhaps your peoples should start going back to the basic business of producing enough babies at sufficient replacement rates. You know: one for daddy, one for mummy, and one for country. That way you need not rely on immigration and outsourcing to keep your economies humming.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.