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In the on-going dispute over the housing of foreign workers at Serangoon Gardens, Mr George Yeo dropped a bombshell when he said that a masterplan was needed to give “some idea of how many foreigners we can accommodate in a sustainable, organic way.” (See report below)
You mean that all this time the Government didn’t have a plan or “some idea” of how many foreign workers this island can hold?
And now that we have a potentially explosive situation on our doorstep, we are told that we need a masterplan. A masterplan? Shouldn’t someone tell the PAP that masterplans come before actions?
This latest revelation is shocking. Many Singaporeans accept the PAP’s rhetoric that the Government thinks through and debates ideas before implementing them. Mr Yeo’s remarks nail the lie.
Not only is the admission shocking, it is also a wake up call to Singaporeans. We don’t question, much less oppose, the Government’s policies and assume that everything it does is in order. Until things are too late, that is.
It shakes to the core, or at least it should, the belief that our ministers possess the “helicopter vision” when dealing with national issues.
Mr Yeo adds that the foreign workers’ housing problem is not just for Serangoon Gardens but the whole of Singapore as well.
Well, thank you very much. Haven’t we been pointing out this problem for years? In Aug 06, the SDP warned that “the social impact of the foreign recruitment policy may yet prove disastrous for Singaporeans.” (see here) Now it seems that the chickens are coming home to roost.
The Foreign Minister also pointed out: “We may grow much faster if we open our doors to foreign workers but if there are too many of them coming into Singapore, it will affect our living environment.”
You don’t need to be a minister to see this. The SDP warned about the problem in our manifesto years ago: “[Material] gain for its own sake can be destructive to social processes and to the activities of a community.” (see here) For years we have been warning against this dangerously blinkered policy of generating economic growth at the expense of the community.
This problem has now come to haunt us. But as usual the people are the ones that will have to pay the cost of undebated and unscrutinised policies while the ministers continue to live in their own opulent world, protected from the consequences of their own actions.
We hope Singaporeans can see the importance of having an opposition that will ask the hard questions in parliament, one that will hold the government accountable when its stubborness results in problems for the nation. This is what oppositions do.
Failure means that bad laws and lousy policies are implemented to the dentriment of the people. In the end, we pay for their mistakes.
Workers’ dorm: An issue for whole of S’pore
The Straits Times
8 Sep 08
Be more understanding, Singaporeans.
While Serangoon Gardens residents had “legitimate concerns” regarding a possible new community of foreign workers in their backyard, Singaporeans also “must not adopt a superior attitude”, Foreign Minister George Yeo said yesterday on the sidelines of a Mid-Autumn celebration at Bedok Reservoir.
The estate made headlines when more than 1,600 residents opposed a proposal for an unused school to be turned into a foreign workers’ dormitory.
Mr Yeo, who is an MP for Aljunied GRC which includes Serangoon Gardens, said a masterplan was needed to give “some idea of how many foreigners we can accommodate in a sustainable, organic way”, he said.
“It’s not a problem just for Serangoon Gardens. It is a problem for Singapore as a whole,” he said. “We may grow much faster if we open our doors to foreign workers but if there are too many of them coming into Singapore, it will affect our living environment.”
He added: “I have been to visit friends in Little India on weekends and I can understand the difficulties the residents there put up with, because they come down to their void decks and find those void decks are no longer theirs to use.”
One solution could be self-contained “townships”, which may give foreign workers the things they need, such as “better, cheaper access to food, to shops” as well as “their own places for recreation”.
The Serangoon area’s MP, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, was writing a letter to National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan, summarising residents’ views and concerns, after a dialogue with residents last week, Mr Yeo added.