Friday, December 13, 2013

Our Societies

King County sees so many immigrants from Asia, and one really couldn't help noticing that many are from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and there're equally many from Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, etc. I don't lurk in Chinatown or Asian restaurants at all. Where I've been traipsing have been pretty much where locals hang out, albeit in big towns, and not small towns. They feel, to a certain extent, like Vancouver and Toronto. I don't know about underlying current racial tensions or social courtesies. As a visitor, I'm not feeling any discrimination. (Forget about the history of America. The segregation policies held firm up to 1950 and unofficially, till the 70s. Migrant rights belong to another huge topic constantly debated upon since 1990.) Of course I'm not saying discrimination and racism don't exist in America now. They exist in every city; to varying degrees.

Then, there're many residents here who don't want American citizenship, but are staying here long-term for the duration of their work contracts, and enjoying it. The man's been up to King County many many times on work trips till he's ready to rent a car and drive around in winter, with a GPS of course. (What the heck, he uses a GPS even in Singapore. Yes, he's that bad with directions.) He does enjoy the cities and always don't mind flying in every other month, but not enjoying how often TSA breaks his suitcases.

In the queue to pay up for the BFF's humongous haul of cosmetics from Philosophy and Kiehl's (that I've to lug back... >.<), I kinda eavesdropped on the conversation of two ladies right behind. Well, they were talking very loudly. They were randomly chatting in their native tongue, interspersed with English, and I wasn't really paying attention till for dunno-what-reason, they swopped to completely English.

Both ladies were on a day off from work. One mentioned about a letter from home, from her children stating their requests for Christmas presents. She took out the letter and showed her friend. The letter was decorated with little pom poms and ribbons. Cute. She mentioned that her son had asked for a game set, a Xbox or PS or something. Then she proudly said that her older daughter asked for a bible. She was overjoyed. You could hear it in her voice. "I never thought she'd ask for a bible. I'm so happy!" I wondered how old the daughter was; good move on the kid's part. Heh.

Immigrant dreams coming true for them, I hope.

On that note, I certainly hope my home country, Singapore, truly welcomes immigrants this way too, giving them hopes and aspirations to realize their dreams. Singapore rose from the toil of immigrants, and that nation-building will never cease without immigrants.

I'm but second-generation Singaporean with immigrant roots across two races and cultures. Like any other residents, we share similar stories. Residency and citizenship in a city, especially a supposedly first-world city, in this day and age, should not be linked to the color of your skin or race. Like any other democratic city (I say this with a huge dose of irony), we'll have active civil voices, protests, demonstrations and even, riots, contained, hopefully. But like a developed country, we should also have the provisions to keep residents safe from unrest that can be caused by anything, anyone, whenever. One doesn't just implement knee-jerk measures that stink of ostracization or curtail alcohol like it's the solution to the mystery of world peace. It's like, I hear what you're saying, but I don't see you doing what you're saying. What are we, back to the Prohibition era? I like the decor then, but not that society. So, please. If these measures are temporary, then let this insanity pass quickly.

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