Socialising and acclimatising the foreigners

Lately the vigour to welcome the foreigners has been neglected with focus turned to the election. Now that it is over, maybe this exercise to welcome and socialize the foreigners will take off again. I have just one suggestion to the committees organizing such programmes. And this is from the experiences of the past when the sinkehs were arriving in their cargo ships in the last century. When the early sinkehs came to this island, they were taken care of by their clansmen and they helped them to adapt and acclimatize to the local environment. Coming from temperate countries, the tropical heat can be killing. One of the mandatory rituals is to make them take early morning bath. This is to protect them from heatstroke. The side benefits were personal hygiene which actually was not of much concern in those days. Poor labourers were not too perturbed by dirty places and their sweaty and smelly bodies. They slept anywhere, wore clothes for days and bathing and washing to keep clean were furthest in their minds. Today, many new arrivals are still not conscious of their personal hygiene, the students, and the office workers included. From the smell you know that they have not taken their bath for days, or at best, in the morning before leaving for work. Imagine squeezing with them in the packed trains and buses. For goodness sake, all the programme coordinators incharge of foreigners, please do just one thing. Teach them to take bath daily, and the most important one, before leaving for work. It is not only healthy, it not only reduces heat stroke, it keeps them clean and not smelly. The locals cannot or would not want to talk to them or get near to them if the stench is unbearable. And it can become offensive and invite a negative feeling towards them. A clean and not smelling body will make them more pleasant and people will not avoid them. I have no intention to be rude. But I cannot help but to pinch my nose when the body odour from unwashed bodies is too offensive. I hope this message gets through. I want to be nice and polite to them too. I have to say it because many are suffering in silence and cursing behind their backs. PS. Wally should be happy with this.


notanotherspinstory said...

Funny one.

Ya its true PRC's are really dirty fellows. My female PRC tenant brushed teeth in the kitchen sink. God knows how often they bathe.

Anonymous said...

Please do not allow your bounteous message spite our forebears and people of other nations less 'advanced' or modern than Sin.

People in their countries of origins may find Singaporeans 'too different' and comfortable to be with too.

Singaporeans are way too clinical, physically and in their mentality which results in snobbery everywhere they go. Foreigners do get put-off by this.

Anonymous said...

Funny but true in MRT. Good, simple suggestion. Always enjoy Japan's trains.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Our forebears were poor and backwards in all aspects. No need to despise them for that. They improved with each generations and with education and economic well beings.

The new arrivals are in the same state. No one is looking down on them. When we are cleaner and more hygienic, we should educate them to be like us. Leaving them in that state is not doing them any good.

It will be a pity if they did not learn to live better, cleaner and more hygienic when they have the opportunities to do so. The more informed should do their part to help them.

But if they choose to be dirty and unhygienic, telling and teaching them to be cleaner is seen as doing them wrong, then I dunno what to say. Then again, no point educating those who chose not to be educated.

Anonymous said...

The difference is that in the old days, they do not travel in crowded air-conditioned trains or buses, so the effect is not that sickening.

Anonymous said...

Soon it will be the other round.
Foreigners will complain of smelly locals with unnatural soap/body foam/lotion/detergent smells.

Anonymous said...

Another case of emperor's new clothes. They didn't know they smell. And no one telling them, except pinching their noses, or standing far away from them.

And they get annoyed, thinking that Singaporeans are unfriendly and snobbish.

Joseph Tan said...

I love you redbean, you just wrote about something that most singkies are so afraid to mention for fear of being labeled bigots. We discuses this body smell issue only privately. Cheers redbean. Spot on.

Anonymous said...

Another irritating trait of many these new arrivals, of various nationalities - they talk very loudly and appear oblivious of others around them.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi Joseph and everyone,

I feel that if we can discuss an issue objectively and better, to try to alleviate the problem for the better of everyone, the foreigners and those affected by it, without trying to ridicule anyone, why not?

Those who have problems, and in this case it is a social problem, if they can take it positively and improve on the situation, everyone will be happy. Taking trains and buses can be so much more pleasant, and no one will be trying to avoid anyone.

Those who have foreign friends may want to pass the word around that personal hygiene and taking a morning bath is a friendly social act. It is not going to cost them anything.

Anonymous said...

"It will be a pity if they did not learn to live better, cleaner and more hygienic when they have the opportunities to do so. The more informed should do their part to help them."
The writer apparently does not know much about foreign worker's plight. Probably never been to any work site or dormitory. If there is any priority that they have, the first thing they would want will be a filled stomach and sufficient rest. Their conditions today are no better than our forebears and most probably worse because they are now look down upon and sometimes even jeer by the locals.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Don't make any assumption about me, the writer, unless you know where I have been.

And don't be too patronising over the down and out, that because they are in a bad state, they have no pride and dignity, no desire to want a better life, no desire to want to be clean and accepted by other people.

The worst assumption is that they want to remain smelly and dirty. Many may be a bit lost in their lives. The more fortunate should help to show them the light.

There can be dignity in poverty by simply being clean and not a nuisance to other people. When they are clean and pleasant, more people will look at them kindly than when they are dirty and smelly.

You may be right too, that these people have no time to bother about being clean. I will not dare to impose my values on you. At least the students and office workers, and those with time to go chasing after the opposite sex in all the hot spots, they must have a little time to want to clean up.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, everyone wants to be best possible, BUT that is when conditions allow.
Let me just say that the foreign workers themselves dread having to take public transport. First and foremost reason will be the scorns, the dispositions of dislikes and contempts. Even if the foreign workers do not feel the inconveniences of lugging their usually large dirty tool and working bags, they have to make their ways to the nearest boarding point which could be far from their workplaces.
How many workers are lucky to find toilet and washroom around their places of work, very remote. Cooking at workplaces is definitely out, it is illegal. Suppossing the workers do have clean clothings to change into, the old used ones will still stink.
Suffice for me to say that few Singaporeans if ever there are, are able to understand and sympathize foreign workers. Many do not know that a little cooking corner is shared by tens of people and the same goes to toilet and bathroom. Even bed space is smaller than army barrack.
I worked at construction since a teen and I AM still working at construction sites. Many foreign workers are some of the most sincere people I have met in my life.

Anyway, those who wish to understand more about foreign workers working and living conditions can always visit some of the voluntary organization blogsites and some social-political sites to understand them better.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

I just recall a story of a young man on his voyage to Europe. There were many passengers and only a small pail of water was provided for wash up in the morning. To keep himself clean, this young man made it a point to be the first to wake up in the morning to wash himself.

I have encountered one occasion when a worker smelt like he was in the sewers during after office hours. The whole train cabin was foul. That was the first and last time I encountered that.

Most of the time were on the way to work, in the morning. And often from students and office workers who definitely do not have problems washing up.

The dormitories are inadequate. The question is whether we should level down or level up, to live with the unclean or to make them clean.

I remember construction sites were the most untidy, messing and dirty places with muddy roads, muddy lorries, dust everywhere, affecting the whole neighbourhood. That was many years ago.

Today, you can have a construction site right in the middle of Raffles Place. Not only there were no noise pollution, there were little dust and hardly any mud on the road. Why?

There is a determined effort not to let the filth spread to everyone. The sites were blocked off by nettings and hoardings and all the mess kept within. The lorries would have their wheels washed before leaving the site.

Do we want the foreigners to come here and continue with their lifestyle in our midst? Do we want them to litter everywhere? Do we want to level down to them and accept that there is no way out, that they are like that?

Many a times, the people who smell are just due to poor hygiene. And some locals are also guilty as well. For those without the facilities, maybe the authorities could do something about it. It is corporate social responsibilities to provide basic hygiene facilities.

I dunno what to say about office workers and students who smell for lack of personal hygiene.