Singapore, Hong Kong unite against
'locusts' By Augustine Tan
HONG KONG - Xenophobia is riding high in
Singapore, targeting mainland Chinese. And Hong
Kong Internet users, fresh from their own
"anti-locust [mainland Chinese]" campaign, are
giving a big helping hand.
Among the gems
from Hong Kong appearing in Temasektimes is this
from zhongj: "I am a hongkonger, my hometown HK
have been destroyed by locusts [mainlanders], my
city is dying. I know that feel, singaporeans U r
not alone to fight against locusts."
Another, signing himself stuka05, in
Temasektimes: "As a Hong Konger, I have to say our
city has been assimilated and declining due to the
influx of Mainland Chinese locusts. May God bless
defend their honorable country from the Chinese
invasion. Don't be the next HK!"
Resentment against mainland Chinese
flooding the city-state for jobs, school and
university places as well as buying up properties,
has been simmering for several years and was a
major factor in the ruling People's Action Party's
(PAP) massive loss of support in last year's
general elections. Cash-rich Chinese nationals
were blamed for fueling rising property prices in
the campaign. All the same, the PAP holds 81 of
the 87 seats in parliament.
to review the issue followed. Then came an about
turn, with the government insisting there must be
25,000-plus new citizens each year "to maintain
the citizen population." The population now is
already well over five million, making the
city-state the most densely-populated place on
As these and other related
statistics were flying back and forth through
cyber-space, churning up anti-government fervor, a
very rich mainland Chinese from Sichuan province,
Ma Chi, 31, unwittingly brought his countrymen
into the forefront.
Just after 4.00 am on
May 12, he drove his limited edition Ferrari at
over 200 kph to beat an intersection red light. He
drove straight into a taxi. The impact lifted both
vehicles off the road, throwing them onto a
pavement, hitting a motorcyclist along the way.
The taxi's engine was completely sheared off and
thrown 30 meters down the road. Both drivers and a
Japanese woman passenger in the taxi were killed;
a KTV mamasan (in charge of a karaoke bar)
riding in the Ferrari and the motorcyclist were
In what was perhaps the
luckiest escape for anyone, two other persons were
in another vehicle to the left of the taxi. Both
might have been killed if their car had moved
ahead of the taxi.
Stranger still, the
passenger in this car was taking video footage of
the entire city center junction while waiting for
the lights to change. The whole clip, showing the
traffic lights changing, the taxi moving ahead and
the Ferrari shooting across like a rocket, went
viral on Youtube, chalking up some 3 million hits,
not counting the many versions copied and sent
into cyber-space through Hong Kong and numerous
websites in China.
With every passing day
the Singapore-based "anti-locust" campaign
escalated. The state-owned media - referred to as
"Prostitute Times" or simply "The 154th" (after
its past international media-freedom ranking) -
inflamed passions further by singing paeans to the
successful "financial investor" from China.
Nothing was said about the pain inflicted on the
family of the 51-year-old taxi driver Cheng Teck
Hock, and that his daughter was preparing to enter
This provided a huge amount of
ammunition to young Singaporeans who feel they are
being downgraded in a variety of important
measures by a government hellbent on fostering
cheap labor, nurturing recruits for its part-time
army and hiring "foreign talent" for the higher
echelons in the private sector.
Singaporeans - except the very rich who get
scholarships to go overseas - are eligible for
local scholarships that are, in the main, reserved
for mainland Chinese, Indians and students from
neighboring countries. The preference for
so-called FTs (foreign talents) has led Singapore
to become one of the few cities with taxi drivers
holding PhDs from top American universities.
The Singaporean government, however,
maintained a discreet silence over the accident.
Neither the authorities nor the
state-controlled media has come to terms with the
new world of cyber-space. The attempt to put the
"financial investor" in a good light spurred the
Ma family to come out with a stinging attack
against Singaporeans for not being sympathetic
towards their bereavement.
newspaper quoted a cousin of Ma Chi as telling
Singaporeans: "The rich are not always at fault.
We urge netizens to hold back their poisonous
He went on to say: "I read
online that many netizens said my brother deserved
to die as he is an offspring of a rich man. I want
to tell you if you cannot afford a Ferrari 599-GTO
there is no need to say those who can pay for it
are a rich man's son."
This appeared to
signal a "counter-attack" against Singaporeans by
young mainlanders studying in the city state.
One of them submitted to the Hardwarezone
website: "Why didn't the taxi driver look at
oncoming vehicles before accelerating off? They
think green light = no threat? Serve the taxi
There were many other
postings in a similar vein.
Chinese Embassy stepped in with an expression of
regret over the tragedy, urging its citizens to
"respect life, value the safety of themselves and
others, abide by its laws and regulations, and
live responsibly and gracefully".
mainland nationals joined in. One website said a
staff nurse, Li Bei, had e-mailed it to say: "In
Guangzhou, the family would be on Guangzhou
Focus [a current affairs talkshow] and
publicly shamed. I am shocked your media is
actually praising how rich and successful he is.
We spit on such people in China."
even people in Sichuan were getting involved.
Their "human search engine" soon provided indirect
links to China's ongoing scandal involving former
Chongqing Communist Party strongman Bo Xilai, who
was relieved of his position under a cloud of
Then Ma Chi, the successful
"financial investor" was rumored to be none other
than the brother of Chongqing's mafia
boss-on-the-run, Ma Yong. This Ma evidently
vanished just before the now disgraced Bo ordered
his new police chief, Wang Lijun, to wipe out the
About this time, after Bo
took up his position in 2008, Ma Chi went to Hong
Kong where he was accused of laundering an average
of HK$10 million (about US$1.3 million) a month
for some years before settling in Singapore.
According to mainland journalist Cao
Guoxing, the Ma brothers are sons of Ma Kai, 66, a
state councilor and State Council secretary
general, president of the National School of
Administration, Western Region Development of the
State Council Leading Group Office.
these details quickly moved from China's Weibo or
mini-blogs to the many websites and blogs the
Singaporean government sent Law and Foreign
Affairs Minister K Shanmugam to attend the wake of
taxi driver Cheng, where he promised that if the
daughter qualified for a university place, the
costs would be looked after.
of too little, too late, perhaps. With a rare
by-election set for May 26 the government is
desperately trying to keep the "locusts" out of
the picture. Trouble is the netizens of Singapore
and Hong Kong aren't cooperating.
Augustine Tan is a Hong
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