Singaporeans’ culinary anti-immigration protest: curry

SINGAPORE, (Reuters) – It takes a lot to start a mass  campaign with political overtones in Singapore, but there’s no  better catalyst than food.

Tens of thousands of people in the Southeast Asian  city-state said they would cook or eat curry yesterday in a  protest highlighting growing anger over increased immigration.

The campaign began after an immigrant family from China  complained about the smell of curry from a Singaporean Indian  neighbour’s home and local officials brought about a compromise.

A Facebook page devoted to the row after reports were  published in a local newspaper has drawn over 57,600 members,  many of who said they were cooking curry yesterday in a show of  solidarity with the Indian family.

“Because we live in Singapore and Singapore is such a  cramped place, neighbours should understand each others’  culture,” said Stanley Wong, a 37-year old accountant who helped  organised the Facebook page.

He and a dozen friends and family were gathering in a small  government-built flat for a potluck curry dinner.

Most of the diners were ethnic Chinese, like the  overwhelming majority of Singapore’s 5.1 million people. But  residents say curry is a Singaporean dish and that immigrants,  including those from mainland China, should accept it is part of  the local culture.

“The case could create problems with the integration of  foreign nationals,” said Florence Leow, a freelance writer in  her 40s who also was one of the organisers of the event.

“Through this event we hope to cook and share a pot of curry  and get to appreciate and embrace our culture.”

The influx of immigrants is a sensitive subject in  Singapore, where only about two-thirds of the people are  citizens. Many Singaporeans say the city-state’s relatively easy  immigration policies are attracting too many foreigners, making  it more difficult to find jobs and pushing up prices of homes.

Immigration was a major issue during the campaign for the  May general election, which was easily won by the ruling  People’s Action Party, although its winning margin dropped  sharply.

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