Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Chaos at Chingay: Is this the Singaporean way?

So we had a little Chinese New Year parade called the Chingay, with floats and hip-hop dancing Members of Parliament. Huge crowds gathered to watch. Singaporeans are always unusually game for some free entertainment. Unruly behaviour happened, happy mood soiled. Yet another story about Ugly Singaporeans. Or is it? From the article:

"things went awry when the volunteers were not present. Two passers-by succeeded in sneaking in. A man tried to follow suit minutes later, was stopped by volunteers, but refused to retreat. A police officer tried to intervene, but was greeted with a rude hand gesture and a chase followed.

Then all hell broke loose. More people sneaked in and stood around, obstructing the ticket holders' view. By the time the police and volunteers arrived on the scene, it was too late for them to take action against the dozens of "infiltrators". What further infuriated me was when some of them tried to occupy my seat when I stood up to catch a better view of the show. An elderly couple next to me suffered the same fate."

Does it sound like a Singaporean would try to trespass barriers, even though they are more symbolic than practical? Singapore is a place where people reserve seats in hawker centres with packets of tissue paper, and queues can form spontaneously whenever such are needed. I doubt Singaporeans will go so far to make "hand gestures" at policemen. Not that I am terribly proud of it, but Singaporeans behave like sheep in a herd. Our men in uniform are like the shepherd dogs whose barks are sufficient to keep the herd in line. Given that one in four warm bodies in Singapore are foreigners, it will not surprise me that such "out of line" behaviour was committed by foreigners. In fact such anti-social behaviour is very common when I have the misfortune of bumping into tour groups from PRC at tourist sights overseas.

So Singapore wants to have 6.5 million. Given our birthrate, the growth will certainly be fueled entirely by foreigners, the majority of which will be from PRC, because the government clearly wants to maintain the racial ratio. What happens when we have to compete with people who do not respect our rules and our way of doing things? We can either choose to let them walk all over us, or we can beat them by being more rude, more anti-social, more nasty. Indeed, those unruly people could very well be Singaporeans fed up with being the nice guy coming in last.

Is that the Singapore you want your children to grow up in? One of the letter writers also pointed out the dangers the mismanaged crowd posed to small children.

I have serious doubts about the competency of the government to manage Singapore at our crowding level of 4.5 million. When we hit 6.5 million, Singapore will probably be unlivable for families.

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