Foreign Workers housing woes

The Straits Times today touched upon the issue of foreign workers being housed in dormitories near to the HDB estates. Residents are mainly worried since the inclusion of those foreign workers actually increases their current population by 25%, which means in the future, one in five people there is actually a foreign worker.

It may sound racist, and even wrong, because everyone’s reasoning has a fundamental “flaw”, that is they seem to assume that foreign workers are the cause of crime, rowdiness etc. However I don’t think that it’s a flaw, but rather, all these shows how we are uncomfortable with the idea of foreign workers being around us, although we accept the fact that they are here to stay in Singapore because they are doing the work that we Singaporeans are not willing to do.

To digress a little, isn’t it funny how people are championing for it to be a right to have a university education? If such a case were to happen, everyone would be a degree holder and then everyone will expect degree level jobs. In the future, perhaps even our technicians, or our factory assembly lines would be powered by foreign workers. Because there is no one left who wants to do them. Everyone assumes that their degree gives them the right to demand better jobs.

Back to the point, I must say that I myself is uncomfortable with foreign workers. Do I have to do the same disclaimer that everyone does before they voice their views to the MP? Ok here goes: I have nothing against them. I appreciate their work in building Singapore blah blah blah. I think that’s nonsense. There is no need to say all these and justify that we arn’t being racist or whatever not. No one should have to be labelled a racist just because they oppose the housing of foreign workers near their estate.

Every Sunday when I go back home after my Japanese lessons at Orchard, I will pass by the MRT station Outram Park. At that station, and at that time period, there would be an influx of foreign workers coming into the train, and the whole place would be packed with them. (F*** the transport system for making it so damn packed).

I feel very uncomfortable when they swarm the trains. It’s probably because that we belong to different groups. Not based on elite ideals or what, but Singaporeans (people who’ve lived here for a certain period of time) vs these foreign workers. I find that they haven’t really acclimatised to our country yet, and there are many little culture bits and pieces that they do not grasp.

But the reason why I feel uncomfortable should be classified under a universal category, because I think everyone should understand it. It’s the concept of personal space. I hate it when people infringe on my personal space, whether its Singaporeans, non-Singaporeans, Aliens, fat, thin, rich, poor, male, female and what you have that’s contrasting. I am always rudely shocked to find my personal space being infringed upon by those foreign workers. I have no idea why they always like to squeeze me into a corner. When they come in, some of them grab two different poles with two hands, and they take up an awful lot of space. Their hands brush against my hair and they treat it like it’s something normal. I hate it. I don’t understand why people can’t position themselves properly when they know they are touching someone indirectly. It doesn’t help when your face is near his bloody armpit.

The thing is, I move, and I try to squeeze myself further in with limits, because I have to be aware that I cannot compromise too much on other people. I find my space getting lesser, and after 2 minutes that idiot’s hand is at my hair again. As far as it goes, I find myself having lesser and lesser space. What are they? Invaders of the MRT?

Not to mention that I find myself disgusted by one of the foreign workers recently. He was holding on to the hand grip provided by MRT. Those white triangular handles you can grab for stability. I was holding on to the one beside him. Suddenly, he held on to the pole (that links all the handles) and I don’t understand why he has to hold the pole in a way that his arm touches my hand. I mean, there is a distance between two handles, and why should you choose to hold it where someone’s hand is at? Knowing full well there’s the empty handle he just vacated.

He then proceeds to dig his nose in front of me. Hence, the former handle he grabbed is now out of bounds since it’s dirty. I know it’s already dirty because there’s other people who probably dug their nose and held there, but it feels worst when you KNOW someone dug his nose and grabbed that fucking handle.

My friend smsed me and then I use the handle hand to take my phone out from my pocket, since my other hand is full. That idiot took over my handle! Seriously, they are not foreign workers to me, but invaders of the MRT. They invade my personal space and invade the clean handle I was holding on to. Tell me if you’ll hold that handle again. And the best thing is? After holding it for 3 s he released it, and found a seat to sit. Whilst poor me have to stand without a mentally clean handle.

Hence tell me if the uncomfortable feeling towards foreign workers are unjustified. I think they are perfectly legitimate feelings. We are just not comfortable with them being too near us, for me when they compromise on my own personal space. If anyone of you haven’t realized yet, humans have a little space called their personal space. In a mathematical point of view, take the center of your body and draw a circle of radius r with its center being your center. r varies from person to person and we feel uncomfortable when strangers come close , however it’s perfectly fine when it’s a cute girl. I don’t mind the default squeezing. But what’s up with the indirect touches, even if it wasn’t intentional? What’s up with putting your hand near my face that I feel weird? That I’m suddenly conscious about how I breathe because if I breathe heavily your hand’s going to get the air?

Hence to me I feel that I understand. Safety issues, well, I understand too. It’s all part of how you are willing to accept other people. It doesn’t help when there are many stories about invaders of mrt touching girls in the orchard crowd during new year, or the maid with invaders having fun in the master’s bedroom. Or them loitering and looking at you, making you feel uncomfortable like you’ve been mentally raped.

Whatever it is, I understand their fears. But I don’t wish to debate on where they should be housed, because it’s a huge problem.