Sunday, August 23, 2009
Thank you foreigners!
Tunnel boring for Singapore's MRT circle line was completed today. (Today and The Straits Times, 18 August 2009, p12 and p4 respectively). The Straits Times had a picture showing the large boring mechanism in the background and everyone clapping and jumping in celebration. Normally this is unremarkable. Sure they should be happy. Its a job completed without any more loss of life. But one thing caught my attention about the photograph.
If one didn't know better, one could be forgiven to think that the boring took place somewhere in India. Every single person in the picture looks like an Indian! I don't see any Chinese, or Ang Mo for that matter. It just goes to show that the real credit for Singaporean's getting a world-class transport system is due in no small measure to some of our imports - foreign labours, just as it took our forebears - today's Singaporeans' fathers and grandfathers who hail from India and China, to build Singapore into the modern city-state that it is today. Even as Singapore celebrates its National Day, it bears remembering that our prosperity, our first-class infrastructure, comes from the toil and sweat of the very same peoples who settled in this land more than 50 years ago and whose sons from that same faraway land continue to do so today.
Yes, they are not doing it for free. But the smiles on their faces, and the jubilant cheering (I can only imagine this) shows how much pride they have in their work. Imagine, celebrating an achievement which they may never get to enjoy as they must go home to India (or wherever they came from) one day. Given that most Singaporeans are unwilling to work in such jobs anymore, we owe them a debt of gratitude in helping make our journeys to and from work faster and a lot more bearable.