Singapore must welcome visitors, or risk lowering world standing: PM Lee

Singaporeans must welcome visitors or risk lowering their standing in the eyes of the world, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a strongly-worded Facebook post on Saturday.

Get the full story from The Straits Times.

Here is PM Lee's Facebook post:

I was appalled to read about those who harassed the organisers of the Philippine Independence Day celebrations, and spammed their Facebook page. They are a disgrace to Singapore.

Fortunately this appears to be the work of few trolls. Heartened that many sensible Singaporeans condemn this thuggish behaviour, and support Tan Chuan-Jin's stand on this issue.

We must treat people in Singapore the way we ourselves expect to be treated overseas. Many Singaporeans live overseas, and are warmly welcomed in their adopted homes. I just attended our Singapore Day in London. How would we have felt if British netizens had spammed our website, and abused Singaporeans living in Britain?

We must show that we are generous of spirit and welcome visitors into our midst, even as we manage the foreign population here. Otherwise we will lower our standing in the eyes of the world, and have every reason to be ashamed of ourselves. - LHL

Here is Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan Jin's Facebook post that PM Lee referred to:

I recently met the Filipino Ambassador during her farewell call. We talked about the experiences of Filipinos who live and work here. Notwithstanding the occasional negative issues, she was thankful for the kindness and hospitality that Singaporeans extended to her compatriots. Singapore was a safe place because of how Singaporeans treated others.

Which was why I was somewhat startled by the Straits Times article on Thursday, April 17, 2014 that reported about the Filipino organisers of their independence day celebration in Singapore being targeted. That there are xenophobes wasn't the surprising part since there are these sad elements in any society. It was the reported 26,000 'likes' for the page that "is against the celebration of the Philippine Independence Day here" that raised my brows.

As it turned out, the reporting was inaccurate. It was actually the post against the activity itself that garnered several hundred 'likes'. The page that hosted it was the one that had the twenty-over thousand likes. Encouragingly, there have been many decent Singaporeans who have come forward to condemn the actions of these netizens.

Many of us have celebrated Singapore's national day in other countries and cannot imagine what it would be like if attacked in this way.

Is there a gentle way to put this across? Sometimes, I think we should just call a spade a spade. These actions by those who peddle hate are not acceptable, repulsive even. We should make a stand to say no to such bigotry. They do not reflect who we are as a people and as a nation.