China-Vs-Singapore Asian Cup game shows large foreign influx holds potentials for friction.
By Seah Chiang Nee. Sep 9, 2006
A newspaper (Lianhe Wanbao) has reported that Singaporeans almost got into a fight with mainland-Chinese fans, many of them permanent residents (PRs), during Wednesday's Asian Cup qualifying match at Kallang stadium.
Both sides were hurling abuses at each other. Some locals, who were outnumbered, were yelling at them to "go back to China."
During the match, some mainlanders moved in front of a section of the Singapore crowd to wave their flag and taunt the people around, according to one eyewitness.
Another Singaporean said, "I thought I was in China - not Kallang stadium. There are so many China supporters; I think 80% of the seats in the grandstand was filled up by mainland Chinese."
He was worried by the implications. "Is this the beginning of something very seriously wrong? I think this is just the tip of the iceberg, with more FT coming.
"I think it will have a very serious social impact on our country."
A Chinese fan said he and his colleagues went to show support for the home team, China and felt that Singaporeans were not supportive enough of their national side. "They probably think that they've nothing to gain from going."
Some see it as a blow for Singapore soccer and its 'foreign talent' policy, proving that the government's effort to lure Chinese mainlanders (among others) to settle here as loyal citizens.
One critic said this would not work because "in the end, they will still support their motherland"
A more sober voice: "As PRs - not citizens - the mainlanders keep their loyalty to China. All it means is that they want to reside and work here, nothing more."
But he added, "It's only some silly Singaporean politicans who believe that money can buy people's loyalty."
The Chinese are not the only targets; others like the Indians and Westerners have occasionally been included.
Not long ago, some south Asians, especially Bangladeshis, were accused to have molested local girls along Orchard Road during busy festivals.
The incident reveals the underlying feelings Singaporeans have towards 'foreign talents" despite Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's appeal for people to welcome them and make them feel at home.
Many Chinese PRs here are very proud of their country and sometimes behave arrogantly towards Asians. Because of their large numbers in Singapore - still growing - this could result in a clash one day that no one wants.
Unruly behaviour is alien to the Singaporean fans and soccer riots are not likely except under extreme provocation.
A Shanghai sports channel commentator said it was the first time in an away-match in which PRC supporters outnumbered home fans. The camera then covered the sea of PRC flags being waved inside and outside the stadium.
He then interviewed some mainlanders, most of whom were either working or studying here. Some one shouted, "zhu3 guo2 wan4 sui4' ("ten thousand years of motherland".)
There are two interpretations of what had happened. One is that it was normal zeal by sports supporters, so Chinese residents in Singapore supporting their national team was a natural thing.
Secondly, it's not just about cheering for the home team. Singapore is seen as offering jobs and PRs to a large number of them, even at the expense of locals, only to have them running down their hosts.
There was, however, one soothing outcome to all this.
Despite its cheering fans, China - with a 1.3b population - was held to a goal-less draw by tiny Singapore (4m people) in an Asian Cup qualifying round.
Ten thousand cheers to the national team!