Singapore and world issues have definitely broadened my perspectives on how it is to be human. This module has created a sense of personal awareness in me and even allowed me to reflect on the actions that I have made and how those actions can affect another human being. This module has left me hungry for more and it is sad to leave SAWI after a semester of it.
I really hope that SAWI can progress into a full one year module as I feel that it will be beneficial to the future generation of nurses. Having experienced SAWI, it has allowed space for me to think out of the box and look at the big picture instead of just the ‘icing on the cake’. It is a mind-blowing topic that engages self-reflecting as well as question boundaries that few would dare cross.
Through topics like exploitation, modern day slavery, sexism and greed, SAWI has taught me to understand that the world does not revolve around me but it is the other way around. My point being that, it is the world that influence the character I am now.
1st learning point (Exploitation)
Exploitation is happening everywhere. Especially so, in Singapore. Foreign workers are being abused right in the heartlands of this seemingly ‘innocent’ land. I knew at some point it was happening, but this module has really opened my eyes into seeing this issue from a whole different angle. The visit to Farrer Park was the game-changer. I had no clue that such innocent and nice foreign workers were working their bottoms off and getting probably less than two dollars per hour. Worse still, some even voiced out that their friends from other companies were not paid for a few weeks.
The local private companies are not treating these foreigners right. They cut costs by providing these foreigners a cramped living condition with up to 10 people or more in a room. They do not pay them well, and they even liaise with the local private hospitals on the medical treatment being rendered to these foreigners.
A report on such incident by Channel News Asia in 2016, stated that one such case of a foreigner who was not given a medical certificate following a surgery for a fractured hand was even published. And according to the article, this was only one of the many cases reported. (Channel News Asia, 2016).
Why is this a problem? Do they not deserve to be treated as equals even though they are working here? It is both frustrating and interesting to see incidents like these brought to light by the media. Profits equals to revenue minus costs. An equation frequently brought up. It is a valid equation though, but a lot more of a human touch should be put into consideration especially when it comes to the welfare and well-being of the foreign workers. They are the people under the red umbrella.
Singapore is a human dominated industry. It is dependent on its workforce in order to sustain the country’s global standards. Every working-class people including the foreigners are working twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There is no point in time, when no one is not working. Is workforce welfare too much to ask? Humans are not robots. And even robots need a charge of batteries and maintenance. If exploitations do not stop, there may be no foreigners who are willing to come to our ‘little red dot’ to work because it will seem as though the country is just over-flowing with corporate bullies. No one would like that, Singapore.
Learning point 2. (Sexism)
Lessons on sexism and modern-day slavery was very hurting. To think that in modern times, people are still affected by such trades is unimaginable. Take those foreign women who are working in Singapore for example. Utilized as sex symbols for the men at Singapore’s Red-light district. Although prostitution is legalized in Singapore, it does not mean that the act of selling one’s body is morally correct.
These are women who probably were left with no choice or alternatives. They were sold off to the underworld to be slaves and promised a better tomorrow. Lies were fed into their minds and they would end up skimpily dressed and ready to work for their employers. These were once innocent women who would now be more prone to exposure to numerous sexually transmitted diseases.
In addition, ease of accessibility and globalization made it so much easier for these women from the neighboring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar to be trafficked across the borders and approved entry to Singapore under a social visit pass.
Loop holes under the immigration law are bypassed so easily, hence forth, also creating a possibility of an influx in the numbers of sexually transmitted diseases in Singapore. No one would have any idea if these women have any underlying diseases in the first as no prior screening was done before entering the country and ‘socializing’ with the men here.
Although these women were from a minority, the implications were dire. Imagine if a female sex worker were to contract a sexually transmitted disease during her 2 weeks stay here, and she passed it on to ten men per day, for a total of fourteen days. That would result in probably implicating one hundred and forty men during her stay. Bear in mind, this is based on just one female worker. What if the numbers were greater?
Sex slavery implicates more than just the victims. The whole country’s economic growth may be at stake as well. There should be a ban on prostitution in place in Singapore. Based on a recent article by The Straits Times in 2017, the number of sexually transmitted diseases are on a rise, surprisingly affecting a younger age group in Singapore. (The Straits Times, 2017).
Singapore is already facing a problem of an ageing population. Look around and you will see more elderly people working. It is so evident that even a friend of mine from abroad commented that only in Singapore will he see a sixty-year-old man clearing trays at hawker centers.
If more of the younger generation are getting infected with serious sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV or AIDS, would that not lead to a bigger problem for this little red dot? So how can the elderly retire if the young are dying early?
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”. (Mother Teresa)