Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A Rival For Singapore?

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


In the UK, public documents are transferred to the National Archives 30 years after they were created under the 30 years rule. Once transferred to the National Archives, they are available to the public.

Recently, many of Margaret Thatcher’s papers reached the National archives and they have revealed a hitherto-unknown facet of Mrs. T. Apparently Mrs. T had a racist streak in her. Despite a lot of public posturing, Mrs. T didn’t like the idea of letting refugees from Vietnam into the UK. You can read all about it in this report.

What struck me in this report was the reason why the proposal for the UK and Australia to jointly buy an Indonesian or Philippine island and settle the Vietnamese refugees there, finally fell through. Apparently Lee Kuan Yu of Singapore feared that such a settlement might become a rival entrepreneurial city. And so he successfully blocked Mrs. T’s proposal.

How right was Lee Kuan Yu! Yes, there’s nothing more precious or powerful than human spirit and aspiration and who would have it in greater abundance than a fleeing refugee from Vietnam? The USA was built by refugees (both economic and political) from all over the world. Yes, they did use slave labour, but then so did so many other countries in Europe and the middle-east. Now there is a growing trend in the developed world to take in only the smartest and richest and the most posh. These countries, which includes the UK, ought to do a reality check. There’s no way these posh migrants can compete with a genuine refugee from a war-torn country who has to rebuild from scratch!