An exchange between two foreign workers in Singapore:
(Ordinarily, I would have tried to mimick the accent of foreigners. But I don’t know how to. And don’t want to be accused of stereotyping!)
FW1: These Singaporeans really love us! They held some candlelight vigil for Malaysians last night. Even though there was a police warning and all.
FW2: Don’t be silly. Not many people turned up. Scared off. Only a few hundred versus 4,000 or so at that Population White Paper rally. Don’t forget some Malaysians got arrested too earlier.
FW1: But that they even turned up at all was quite something no? People say Singaporeans very, what they call it? kiasi. Seems some of them aren’t that afraid. They were even taunting the plainclothes policemen!
FW2: Hey, don’t you read what some people on the Internet said? They think Singaporeans shouldn’t be protesting on the Malaysians’ behalf. Frankly, Singaporeans should mind their own business. What can the people in this small country do anyway? They’re just asking for trouble.
FW1: But some Singaporeans have always done so. For the Indian gang rape victim, displaced Sri Lankans and I don’t know who else. There’s actually some support for those of us who work here. A good sign.
FW2: You’re being too optimistic. Have you counted how many of us have been sent home because our passes haven’t been renewed? I tell you, we’re not welcomed here. They say we are taking away their jobs.
FW1: Hah! As though Singaporeans want to do the work we do. They need us to build those flats they live in.
FW2: That’s easy for you to say. You’re in the construction business. I’m in F&B and my boss says there’s a quota on hiring foreigners. My pass is up for renewal. I think I might have to go home.
FW1: Can’t you go to those migrant centres? They are very good to people like us. They pay legal fees, fight for our salaries and let us stay in their quarters. Even in their homes. Ask them to petition or make a case for you.
FW2: Are you mad? What if my employer finds out? What if police found out? You want me to be roughed up like those Chinese SMRT bus drivers?
FW1: But police said that didn’t happen. You can’t believe everything on the internet!
FW2: Well, you can’t believe everything the police say! In fact, I am going online to tell the Singaporeans what I think of them! These lazy fellows who don’t want to do the dirty jobs and then complain when people like us do. We’re doing it for so little money!
FW1: But more than what we’ll make at home, I think. My family is very pleased that there’s money. Except I’m getting worried. My boss hasn’t paid me in two months. You think I should complain to someone? To mother?
FW2: You mean that place in Havelock road? Useless, I hear they will ask you for so many different documents and you have to keep returning. You think your boss won’t find out where you’ve been? He’ll probably put you on the next plane home. By the way, how’s that girlfriend of yours? The one working in that big house?
FW1: Terrible! She wants me to marry her. She keeps forgetting I’m already married. I am just afraid she will kill herself, or worse, kill me! I’ve been reading so many such stories in the newspapers.
FW2: Well, the good thing is that the police don’t care how many women we run around with. They only care if it’s a big name civil servant. Anyway, I’m off for a beer. Thank goodness for 7/11.
FW1: Okay, I have to run and meet my woman now. Her employer is out of town. Big house! I think I built it!