In Singapore, we have a strong slogan that says racial harmony for all. While the preaching seems like a nice and wonderful thing from the outside, it’s a different story within.
For instance, we are already seeing the ugly side of how some people treat members of the LGBTQ community. Hell, even the Government plays a (passive) role in allowing it by sitting on their hands.
There’s also another group that we tend to discriminate, migrant workers. We avoid sitting with them, give them disgusted looks, call them smelly, and even if you haven’t done it all, you know you have done some.
I’m no Saint as well. Based on what I saw from young from all the adults in trains and buses, it became a norm that I should follow. As you get older and witness how ugly people can be; then you realise how ugly you have been.
The worse part is that these people take all this shit from us and still work to provide us with a comfortable life. Ramasamy Madhavan, an Indian migrant worker, decided to direct his very own short film called ‘$alary Day’. In it, he showcases the reality of surviving on a minimum wage.
In all honesty, I don’t know whether we can help these people by just addressing their wages. Yes, more money would be better for them, but Singaporean society itself needs to shift its thinking into a more welcoming and embracing one.
We do not want to be like Dubai (in the UAE), which treats its foreign workers like dirt. Worse than dirt in fact. For all the richness that country possesses, the people in power don’t have any in their heart. Reports of abuse and maltreatment constantly flow out, but nothing seems to have been done internally to address those issues.
COVID-19 has recently shown us that we too are in danger of falling into that perilous pitfall. When the foreign worker dormitories raged with the virus last year, only then did most of us realize the conditions these people were subject to.
Public outcry was swift and loud…for a few months.
As the news cycle moved on, so did our awareness. Apathy has since set back in and while conditions in their dorms are certainly better now, there are still much more things that need to be done to address how the public views foreign workers mingling around in our society.
What I know is that perhaps if we can be better humans to them and the other communities like LGBTQ, then maybe things can move in the right direction and we’ll really see improvement to how we treat outlier groups like these.
Stop waiting for someone to take the step, take the first step bravely instead.