Singapore protests: What else is driving tensions?

While Singapore protesters are angry about Singapore’s stance on electoral reform, other issues have led to tensions with the Government.

Business and trade have benefited Singapore. But there is rumbling discontent about the number of foreigners coming to Singapore and competing for resources.

We take a look at the tensions.

Almost 2 million foreigners are now living and working in Singapore.

Only less than a third of all jobs created in Singapore in the last 7 years or so, went to Singaporeans, according to government figures.

But the competition for hospital beds, medical resources, etc, have caused outrage -there was a shortage in Singapore last year.

Families have also protested about a lack of places in schools.

In 2014, public anger peaked with the 4th “Return Our CPF” protest in Singapore.

The Singapore government has since stepped in to limit the numbers of foreign workers.

A clash of cultures

Singapore residents have taken particular umbrage at what they see as anti-social behaviour on the part of foreigners. There has also been anger directed at foreigners – some of whom come from poorer countries – who are seen by many as uncivilised.

Clips of foreigners on Singapore’s MRT subway system eating food or fighting with local commuters have periodically surfaced online, sparking public anger.

One of the latest incidents took place recently, when a foreign couple allowed their toddler to urinate by a busy street, resulting in a ruckus with Singaporean passers-by.

Singapore is known as a shopper’s paradise, making it a favourite destination among rich foreign tourists hungry for luxury goods.

Some Singapore residents believe that these foreign shoppers are getting special treatment and there are overtones of distaste about the wealth on display.

Another concern is that the rise of luxury shops catering to foreigners is crowding out smaller local boutiques.

After reading the above, I would like to tell you that it was adapted from a BBC news article “Hong Kong protests: What else is driving mainland tensions?” (Oct 1).

I simply changed “Hong Kong” to “Singapore” and “mainland Chinese” to “foreigners”, with some minor edits!

Leong Sze Hian



About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.