From ‘Upset over foreign tissue paper sellers’, 13 Sep 15, article by Theresa Tan, Sunday Times
Able-bodied foreigners are flying in to sell tissue paper in public areas, upsetting elderly or disabled Singaporeans who are earning a living this way.
Women in their 50s and 60s from China, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar have been seen selling packets of tissue paper at hawker centres, coffee shops and other places. They come as tourists, stay as long as their visas allow, and sell three packets of tissue for $1 – the same as the local sellers.
Hawkers and local tissue paper sellers said they first noticed the foreigners about a year ago.
…In the first six months of the year, the NEA rounded up 145 illegal hawkers selling tissue paper, mobile phone accessories, clothes and other goods. About half were foreigners, an NEA spokesman told The Sunday Times.
…Retired organisational psychologist Michael Loh said he finds it annoying when Chinese nationals approach him at food courts and coffee outlets at malls near the Jurong East MRT station.
“They are aggressive and wave the tissue paper in your face. This is a disguised form of begging and I feel they are taking advantage of Singaporeans’ generosity,” he said.
The elections are finally over, and we already have the first piece of news that would make the Opposition think: ‘Damn, why didn’t I bring this up during the rallies?’.
I’ve always wondered how foreigners who need to sell tissue paper or even beg from generous Singaporeans could afford to even buy their ticket into the country. During Ramadan, foreign beggars from countries as far away as Pakistan make up the ‘seasonal menace’ at Kampong Glam, going around the enclave receiving alms from locals. (Beggars descend on Kampong Glam, Jul 5 2015, ST). Some speculate that these foreigners could be part of a syndicate. In 2014, a ST Forum writer cited an incident of a man coming out of a ‘Malaysian-registered’ van collecting and replacing a donation tin belonging to an elderly man with no legs. It’s no wonder that tissue paper is lucrative enough for schemers to capitalise on, since Singaporean office workers can’t have their lunch without their trusty ‘chope’ companion.
If these ‘guest’ tissue sellers are truly part of an international syndicate, they could be sent home with a comfortable cut on a plane the very next day, having sumptuous airline food, while our ‘pioneer generation’ count coins to buy themselves kopi for breakfast, not to mention recoup their $120 licence fee. NEA may be rounding up the flock, but perhaps the damage has already been done, as Singaporeans become more wary of tissue peddlers or street vendors in general, whether they’re licensed by the authorities or not. But this foreign competition isn’t the least surprising, considering that it’s a struggle faced even by elderly cardboard collectors. Here we have needy Singaporeans living day by day toiling in the sun, only to have some fly by night PRC on a tourist visa bossing them around and claiming territory in a land that doesn’t even belong to them.
Maybe the Workforce Development Agency could do something, like teach our cardboard collectors how to negotiate with aggressive foreign competitors around turf lines, or self-defence catered for seniors, which they should be able to pick up easily since they’ve done so much ‘exercise’ already. Caring for our unskilled work force and throwing money at them isn’t enough. The Government needs to fight for their very survival against this tide of strangers who invade our shores to illegally eat into the rice bowls of our own people. Interpol should be engaged to crack down on syndicates, not runaway rogue politicians. ICA needs to do a more thorough job screening visitors with shady agendas, whether they’re here selling tissue paper or their own bodies for a few days. If the NEA can’t physically hunt them down, then by God, Tan Chuan-Jin, please put your sprint prowess to better use.