Display of xenophobia from only a minority

Selamat Datang Soto and Mee Rebus Stall taking part in Singapore Day in London.

SINGAPORE - I am an Indonesian who is a permanent resident of Singapore and have lived here since I was four. My friends are Singaporean and I consider this country my home.

The recent plan by some Filipinos to hold a Philippine Independence Day event in Orchard Road sparked an online backlash - a textbook "us versus them" scenario ("Filipino group drops plan to hold Orchard Road event"; May 26).

Although the reaction came from a minority of Singaporeans, such a display of xenophobia scared me.

The reception was vastly different from that for Singapore Day, which was held in London this year and was met with positive reactions from the locals.

I asked myself: Would I one day feel out of place in Singapore and be told to "go back to where I came from"?

Of course, there are different degrees of integration. I have lived here for most of my life and people are often surprised to find out that I am not a Singaporean.

The experience must be different for Indonesians who came to Singapore when they were older and were unable to "blend in".

I understand that space is a big issue here. I sigh when I cannot get on the third consecutive train at City Hall station because of the crowd. But surely, a better solution is to have more train carriages rather than fewer people?

I dare say that the people of Singapore are not so hateful. How can it be that this country, historically a home to a diverse community of people, has suddenly become xenophobic?

In an interview with some Dutch friends for a cultural psychology class, I was asked what I loved most about Singapore, and I said the food, my friends and the safe environment. But most of all, I love Singapore because it is my home.

This article was first published on June 3, 2014.
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