We lack compassion

Something really strange happened at my backyard. When I mean by backyard - I mean just at the back of my building.

Two cops came by and asked some foreign workers who were playing cricket in the open field to disperse. They have received complaints that they pose some sort of security threat to the peace loving Teban Community. They were asked to leave and play elsewhere.
Now - let me break this down.

First of all - this is the background of the event. I will put it in bullet form to emphasize.

  • ·         The big field behind the building where I stay is not a state land. It’s a big plot of land – currently the only piece of green we can see from the kitchen.
  • ·         The game the foreign workers were playing consists of 2 players from each side. One throwing a ball the size of baseball on one side and the player hitting it away from him on the other.
  • ·         The rest of the players - around 11 of them are placed in angles all over the fields to catch the ball. If its caught, the guy hitting the ball is replaced. That’s the gist.
  • ·         Because ball can fly - the players play in the middle of the field. And the field is huge.
  • ·         In no way - the ball has ever hit anyone or any moving car – ever. Because no one there playing is Sachin Tendulkar -  the King of the Game.


Secondly -  the players playing in this game -  in Singapore – are usually a mix of Indian and Bangladeshi foreign workers. They all arrive together in some arranged transport, play and then leave peacefully after winning or losing. They have – so far- never created any nuisance, in the form of noise, mental or physical. They play for 5 to 6 hours on weekends and they leave. I have seen them pick up their rubbishes after the game as well.

Thirdly - the following piece is for the fellow Singaporeans. Oh - before that – for those who don’t know me – let me re- intro.

  • ·         Myself - Hira. Born in Singapore to a Singaporean Father who had a Singaporean Mother, who had Singaporean Parents.
  • ·         I love durians so much that I feel they should be a symbol of Singapore instead of an orchid.
  • ·         I speak and understand the 3 national languages of Singapore - unlike the kids born from the 90s onwards.
  • ·         I love Malay food, Chinese movies and Indian dramas.
  • ·         I love to complain and eat.

Want to know why I did the intro? This is to prove that I am every bit of the complaining Singaporean we are. And as such - if you want to see my IC -  you can. But not here of course.  So my background - established.


To my fellow Singaporeans,

I am a woman with lots of words. I am a woman who is currently married to a former Indian national. My husband, who loves Singapore as fervently as I do -  decided to stay and give up his nationality – not for the GST pittance we get -  but because he loves this place and he strongly feels he belongs to the community. He still has yet to have the complaining tendency we have, but he’s getting there. I have a son - who will serve and protect the nation when the time comes.  And I believe I don’t need to prove my identity to my own people.

I am from a working middle class family. I know the struggles of getting to work in public transport and changing bus to train and vice versa early in the morning. I understand the struggle of working mothers and stay at home mothers. I understand the fear raised by the economic downturn in the current years. I understand you fear your jobs may be lost. I understand you fear that the peace and stability enjoyed for so long seem to be shaky here and there. I understand the rising cost of living. I get you. I really do.

But what I don’t get is the lack of understanding in you people. I don’t understand the lack of kindness in you people. What the hell is wrong with foreign workers letting their steam off in playing their game in the middle of the field? Why the hell was the police there? The complaint was that they pose security threat. Why? Because there were Bangladeshis in the game? Or was it because there were Indians in the mix?

From what I know-  the locals do not know the difference between Bangladeshis and Indians. What I do know is that they saw a bunch of dark, sweaty, oily looking foreign workers running here and there -  they foresaw another “Little India” situation and called the police beforehand. The case of an overly concerned citizen doing his small part to protect the small island from dark, sweaty, oily looking foreign workers.

What the hell is wrong with you? Where will they play? They have been kicked out from playing in Chinese Gardens, Pandan Gardens and now Teban Gardens. Where will they play? In their Dorm? Really? When was the last time you saw children running around playing catch in an open field? You don’t right? What the hell is the field for? Eye Wash? 

What are these people supposed to do during the weekends? They are banned from consuming alcohol at certain time at certain location in Little India. Cos you know a little booze will make an otherwise normal Indian worker go loca and they go rampaging police cars and destroy public properties – all the  time. So you never know what happens when an Indian gets drunk.

I know what happens when a Singaporean get drunk - he either gets himself and others killed, or whacks his wife when he returns home in front of his kids. What? It doesn’t happen to all? You mean not every Singaporeans are like that? Oh ok. But all dark looking dudes are like that then? How many times in Singapore’s history have you ever seen drunk Indian workers making the news?

Eh hello? They are not untouchables ok? They are humans like you and me too. They are doing the work your and my grandparents and parents came to do. So now just because your standards have raised from living in a hut somewhere in a swamp amidst chickens and pigs, to living in an apartment maybe 12-13 storeys high – you think you are Donald Trump?

Please get off your high horses and be Singaporeans. Be considerate and kind. Be thoughtful. I grew up in a place where I didn’t see colors of people. I grew up in a Chinese household. We kids used to play in the playground in the sand with Malay and Chinese kids.  We used to get dirty together. I used to study in a Chinese girl’s home. She taught me Maths. I wouldn’t have passed my O’levels if she didn’t teach me her hacks. My best friend is a Malay. I consider her family as mine.  What happened to that community?

Why are you teaching your kids not to mingle around with kids of other races?

Instead of telling foreigners to make effort to mingle and be a part of our community - we should make effort to mingle with them and know about them.  We have seen many, many years of peace and stability because of the early efforts of our greying pioneers who worked together and along with different races.  Don’t make peace a thing of the past. Make effort to know them.

How easy it is for us to label other races and people from third world country? I dare you to leave your home and work in another place. I dare you to leave your comfort zone and work elsewhere and see for yourself , first hand how you are treated outside and what you have been enjoying in your home country. That itself will make you grateful for the things you have and for the country you are in.

I am extremely sad that we have come to this stage of suspecting people based on race. Please think about these foreign workers once in a while. They left their home, their comfort zone, their family to work and make your country , your place clean and bring it up. They clean your house, your street, your bus stops for you, take care of the kids for you, they work in harsh environments to widen our road and make our roads safe to use, and buildings safe. They work under hot sun to ensure your neighbor hood has the perfectly manicured gardens, and parks. 

They are someone’s son,brother, husband and father. They are humans as well. They are like you and me. Their body rots and decomposes when they are dead and so will yours. I don’t believe yours will crystallize or something. 

In the end - everything comes to an end. So open up your hearts along with your minds and adopt compassion. Singapore will enjoy another five decades of peace. Inshallah.




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