It is about overcrowding, not xenophobia

I refer to this week’s VoicesTODAY topic, “Is xenophobia a growing problem?” Any claim of xenophobia among Singaporeans must be substantiated, for it drives a wedge in our relatively cohesive society.

Singapore residents, including foreigners who have lived here for several years, are merely unhappy about overcrowding.

Having too many people on a small piece of land, with public infrastructure that is overtaxed, causes discomfort and stress due to intensifying competition for limited resources such as housing and cars. The unhappiness is not directed at foreigners.

Our total population has grown faster than the infrastructure growth required to support the population. The situation would be the same even if the current population were entirely Singaporean. So we should not categorise this as anti-foreigner anger.

In the 1970s, the Government intervened with the “Two is Enough” campaign because our nation and wealth level could not sustain a large population overnight. That was an exercise in prudence, and the crowded buses of the 1980s gave way to a more civil commute. Today, I see scenes at the bus stops and on the buses similar to those of the ’80s. Such crowding can also be said of the MRT and our roads. We should face these facts.

Just as we improved from the discomfort of the ’80s, we can get better from here. What we must do is to recognise the real issue and call on our leaders to do the needful: Catch up on building infrastructure. Drumming up claims of xenophobia would lead only to a disharmonious home.

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