December 27, 2011

Singapore’s changing demographic

Our last visit to Singapore was a strange one…it somehow made me feel like I was the foreigner in my own country.

It was not because of the fact that I had been away for so long (I feel that I am still a true-blue Singaporean!), but mainly because everywhere we went, we were not surrounded by fellow Singaporeans. And if you think it is because, we only went to “atas” place where all “atas people” or foreigners congregate, you are absolutely wrong!

We were in the heartlands of Singapore and as heartland as a heartland can get – yet the retail and service staffs at the retail outlets are all mostly staffed by China –Chinese or Filipinos.

But before you go judging me at this point of being anti-foreigners, let me reiterate here that I have no interest to harbor hatred for foreigners or being an advocate to being racist.  In fact, I believe that I am far from being racist given that my husband is not of my own race, and that my friends and acquaintances are from all sorts of nationality and races, from being Chinese to Filipinos and even Indians from India.

That point made clear, I am posting this based merely on my observation while doing a quick shopping in a very heartland neighbourhood shopping mall. I was more surprised than anything else to discover that while shopping at Giordano, all 3 service staffs on duties were Filipinas – which was perfectly fine until I hear them speaking only Tagalog to each other right in front of other fellow Singaporean customers. What happened to English as Singapore’s first language?

While I acknowledged that there may be a few other Filipinos shopping at the same time, I can’t help but felt some sense of awkwardness to it all as it was almost like I was shopping in the Phillipines! At another venue, I was even addressed in Tagalog! (Ok. So yes, I know I can easily pass off as a Filipina too, but still…!)

Even the shops at the vicinity of Giordano were mostly staffed by either Filipinos or Chinese from China (one can tell from their very distinct accent), and I can attest that every 2 out of 3 service staff I encountered were all foreigners. This even extended to service staff working at Singapore’s Changi International Airport.

I was wondering if I was just being paranoid as suddenly, it appearsed that Singaporeans have become a rare breed in Singapore. It surprised me further that I would probably have to squint and look really hard to find a service staff that is born-and-bread Singaporean – not that there are none, but just hardER to find.

And perhaps, not at all surprising as well given the latest statistics from Wiki stated that 40% of Singapore’s resident are foreigners, one of the highest percentage in the world (See Demographic: Paragraph 4)

It does make me wonder what other fellow Singaporeans have to say about this phenomenon. There is more to this than meets the eye.

Suddenly, for the first time in my life, outside the safe haven of my parents’ home, I felt like I was the foreigner in my own country.

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