Xenophobia? Tharman doesn’t think so

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The PM and his deputy seem to differ on how to describe some Singaporeans’ growing resentment against foreigners. Lee Hsien Loong has used the word “xenophobic” a couple of  times  to describe how some Singaporeans have reacted, especially in social media,  to the actions of foreigners, the  most recent of which was an attempt by Filipinos here to celebrate their independence day.

In an interview with Reuters, DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam said he didn’t believe xenophobia was a major problem among Singaporeans or a threat to foreign investment.

Citizens “would be concerned for valid reasons if there is overcrowding in the buses or in their housing estates,” he said. “But I don’t think they are motivated in an unhealthy way.”

Well said, Tharman.

It is high time for the government to accept that the target of the pushback from some Singaporeans is not foreigners per se. The anger is against the government for allowing so many foreigners to come  in in such a short time, especially when there were not enough homes, trains and buses to accommodate  the sudden influx.

Yes, some have gone overboard with their criticisms and they should be told off. But tarnishing all Singaporeans with the same brush is just not going to be helpful.

Singaporeans are not xenophobic. Period.