Let me continue with Chinese proverbs.
We have established that the Chinese love eating, and they celebrate everything with a big feast with family and friends. So it’s not surprise that gatherings with food are the metaphor for a good time. A famous saying (also vernacular) says:
Which translates as: there’s no feast where people don’t leave in the end. Meaning basically, all good things must come to an end. I think there’s a better, more funny way of saying that in English, but I can’t remember right now. Any ideas?
I thought of this proverb after reading this news on Singapore’s leading newspaper, the Straits Times.
You can find the news at Youtube too:
The fact that the poor foreign workers have been detained and will probably be deported sounds like business as usual for Singapore. The Rule of Law. Everybody likes Singapore, right? Well look at the comments on the Straits Times piece. It has pearls such as this one:
Looking at the blank and dejected faces of the two Chinese workers, our heart cries for them. In the eyes of the law, maybe they have done something wrong but then if we are in the same shoes as them, we will equally be frustrated and embittered after coming so far away to slog and toil hard for a meagre salary, they are being cheated of their income. When they think of their family back home in the deserted rural area who is waiting for their monetary support to survive, their emotion distress will start to overwhelm them leaving them with no choice except to protest in public.
The worst to come is seeing them being charged for criminal offense. Has Singapore law becoming so inhumane, so merciless and unforgiving that we have lost our touch of human compassion and humanity? Is a warning letter sufficient enough to settle such trivial issue taking into consideration this is their first offense and they are not harming anybody as far as we know.
This smells of… socialism! In Singapore? But it can’t be! Singapore is a well-run place, right? It has rational governance? It has abolished politics, right?
You can never abolish politics. It’s like abolishing sexual desire. For better or worse it’s here to stay. Now you may say that I’m being specious, and many comments are for arresting the guys and kicking them out. I didn’t go through all of them but I’d say the both sides are pretty even.
One thing that those pinnacles of civilisation, Singapore and Dubai, have in common is a reliance on cheap labor from abroad. Which works OK while you have an effective system to take the workers back once they cease to be useful. But you have to be careful with that. See another piece of recent news from Singapore.
Two pieces of labor unrest in little less than a week must be quite disconcerting for the usually uneventful Singapore. But most disconcerting of all must have been that this news haven’t been ignored in the drivers’ homeland. From the China Daily’s opinion page:
The Singaporean authorities, companies and the public have a lot to learn from this case. But more than that, Chinese workers who seek to work abroad should learn more about the country they go to and know how to get legal aid when they face problems.
The Chinese government now pays special attention to protection of Chinese citizens abroad. The Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Commerce have expressed concerns over the strike incident, and the Chinese embassy in Singapore has communicated with the Singaporean authorities and workers.
The recent Report of the 18th Party Congress said: “We will take solid steps to promote public diplomacy as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and protect China’s legitimate rights and interests overseas.” This case has highlighted the need for the government to take all necessary steps to protect the rights and interests of Chinese citizens working overseas.
Singapore has been able to withstand Cathedralist pressure against its legal system because nobody in the West cares or has any incentive to mess with it. But if China starts flexing its muscle and meddling with what it regards as its sphere of influence, well, things are going to get interesting. Singapore survives, and this was explicitly declared by Lee Kuan Yew himself, by leeching Chinese talent to offset the flight of its own talent to the US and Australia. But Singapore might not be able to secure it’s newly leeched talent’s loyalty if Mother China doesn’t let go.
The best designed governance doesn’t mean much if you don’t have the power to enforce it. What can’t continue will stop.