28 June 2006

Keeping Singapore safe for families

Here's where we need to think critically for a moment about the sex industry. Why is this considered antithetical to "safe"? What images do we see in our minds when we raise the battlecry "families"? How much of our motivation is dogma, as opposed to real concern for real people? Full essay.


chris said...

"The child is enrolled in a Singapore school for the purpose of getting a long-stay visa for the mother."

This does not sound logical because the cost of another person living and studying here is very high, diminishing the returns. The risk of embarassing the kid if she was found out is too high. There will be peidu mamas coming for the wrong reason. I contend that there is another reason for some to stray into dubious (because I think that it is more than sex-related) businesses.

Peidu mamas who were oversold about the ease of the Singapore education system and undersold on the cost of living here.

So having made their ways here, they realise that their kids are not coping with English thus requiring tuition. Then they realise that the cost of living is higher than what their agents told them. The money is running out. Legal jobs are earning them peanuts (not the NKF kind), plus you need to have already survived the first year. Desperate times will lead to desperate measures.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your conclusion.

One minor error in the following sentence:
"The child is enrolled in a Singapore school for the purpose of getting a long-stay visa for the mother."

The child being enrolled does not, in any way, support the mother's application. Singapore does not officially endorse the "study mama" concept.

jkt said...

Thanks for this thought provoking article which points out another aspect of Singapore government mentality towards just about everything - they see things in purely binary and mutually exclusive colours of black or white. The "morality" issue is so clearly and shallowly defined. Whislt it is wrong for so-called illegal sex workers to continue with what they do to earn a living, it is perfectly legal for "licensed" workers to operate in government sanctioned outlets.

We tend to forget that if we really want to go ahead with something, we can always find ways and means to justify what we do in a logical and rational manner, while shuting our minds to other views. We have seen enough of this manifestations in politics, education, foreign policies, etc. Why do we not pay just a little attention to the weak, the neglected, the poor, the so called "unproductive", and try to understand their problems. We risk losing our humanity in what we do, and there are signs that people, the less well-to-do, the less privileged are suffering as a direct results of our decisions.

I am glad that there are individuals like your good self who can see things are they really are, and importantly reminds all of us one of the most important attributes of being human - humanity.

Anonymous said...

YB wrote: "Then the hue and cry about keeping these districts "safe for families" tend to become irresistible... Shouldn't we ask ourselves, what is so horrible about sex? Are we trying to impose sectarian religious morality through the instruments of a secular state?"
I think the bottomline is this: While many can accept that there must be redlight districts for various reasons, many just don't want it in their backyards. If one is raising youngsters and/or have female household members, I don't think parts of Geylang or Joochiat would be particularly pleasant. What could happen to Mr YB is at most being offered unwanted services, but for females, it can get pretty distressing to be accosted at one's doorstep (since it's not like one can avoid going to dodgy places). I think it's perfectly reasonable for one to want to keep his neighbourhood "safe" so to speak and the activism is commendable esp considering how much it takes for Singaporeans to be moved into doing something even if it affects them directly.

Anonymous said...

jkt, very well said.

I'd also add that compassion, mercy and basic human kindness towards the less fortunate in our society are so lacking by the gahmen.

Alvin said...

Hi YB,

Just for a better understanding for overstayers are not illegal immigrants, the former means a foreigner who has stayed beyond his legal period in a country whereas the latter means someone who has entered a country illegally.

But allow me to clarify myself, i'm not here to correct you, just hope readers understand the above terms better.

Allow me to introduce myself, I was a former enforcement officer as of which my job requires me to deal with a lot of PDMMs.

Having spoken to a lot of them, I agree with your statement of "Peidu mamas who were oversold about the ease of the Singapore education system and undersold on the cost of living here."

They know the value of the Singapore education system, but were not told that they are not allowed or that finding work here would be so difficult. I would tend to believe that Singapore was not totally clear or honest when the pictures were painted to the PDMMs at the start.

To the anonymous writer's comment, I disagree that our gov sees everything in Binary especially when it comes to money making opportunities. Thus if our government is so against such an idea, geylang and all health centres would have been wiped out. It is a common rumour that to save our womanly folks against sex deprived males, sex industry is an imminent part of a country, not to forget about the benefits it brings to the travel industry and also to their own coffers.

In regards to the Chester, I do see the reasons why he has to engaged in 'illegal' activities, to help make a living, and give his children a better future. Honestly, how can one be facilitate his children to a good future when he cannot even provide them with enough money for their daily needs, needless to say, to a good education system which most would agree is a pre-requisite to a decent wage earning job in our country. Our current system, simply does not allow the poor or the lower income to be able to upgrade themselves to rich the higher echelons of the society.

In short, despite how good our system thinks itself to be, and how morally upright they assume they are, the current situation only displays the flaws and the hidden agendas behind our system which was never shown to the public eyes.

EE said...

I'm a cynic when it comes to political issues. The moral issue is pretty straight-forward from a political standpoint. Most Singaporeans are conservative, perhaps only at publicly, so it pays for the government to take to the "moral high ground". It does not want to be seen as blatantly supporting these activities but would instead turn a blind eye to them if possible. The moral issue has come to be the government's wild card in the face of political and economic pressures, conveniently used as bait-switchers when needed.

Itarc said...

I do not agree with your conclusion.

Even though, since young, my mother has been preaching to me the importance of a paper qualification, she had been single handedly raise my sister and me up. She did not have any education , know little english and cannot write at all. But she toiled in 3 jobs, with about 6 hours of sleep everyday. Both my sister and I both graduated with a degree without student loan.

And that's why I cannot agree that, without paper qualifications, the only options are immoral ones, sex or illegal trade. My mum had a terrible time, working hard but honestly. I wish my mum had it easier, and i do agree with you that our society is harsh on people without qualifications. Even though I sympathies with Chester's situation, I cannot agree with his choice. Its a wrong choice, and his children and him suffers in the end.