Sunday, September 14, 2008

Not in your backyard, then in whose backyard?

Recently, there are voices against converting an unused school into dormitory for foreign workers. It is a real concern. However, by voicing against it won't do the whole situation better. I think some of the more fundamental issues are:
  • Uneven prosperity among nations.
  • Employees wholesome care is not catered for.
  • Reluctant to embrace changes and others.
First one is very ... fundamental, and everyone recognizes it. However, because of its unlikelihood to be achieved withing one career lifetime, most office bearers would not spend much efforts and resources into it. It is a typical case of important but not urgent tasks that people tend to ignore.

The second point is about the current employment arrangement. I think the concept of employee is quite modern, around the time of the industrial revolution. Traditionally, family as a unit is very important, and I notice it in the Oriental culture that I am from. For e.g., it is crucial for maid to made public that she does not intend to get married because it is obvious that being a maid means one cannot afford to be a wife and a mother. The recent developments in the past few decades gave the illusion that it could be done, but it couldn't. Another example, in some Korean drama I watched, stories depict that in the last generations, the boss will house the whole family of the domestic helper within their own house. Basically, to view a person as just a person is fundamentally wrong. Family should be the unit within employment arrangement. Thus, the foreign workers' families must be taken into consideration when arranging for one or some of them to work here.

The third point can also be termed as plain selfishness. By pushing a problem away doesn't solve or make it better, but only make those who managed to push it away better. Especially here, the government have policies to ensure a mix of races in each public housing block. Now, if we ignore the importance of mixing foreign workers into our community, then those conflicts we only watch in the news in other neighboring countries will soon start to appear here.

Nevertheless, there are real concerns that triggered the petition against the move by the residents. However, the concerns should trigger solutions and ways to improve or manage the new arrangement instead of just simply asking for the problem to go to somebody else backyard.

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