Friday, September 12, 2008

Singapore: A Confused Nation

I had the chance during the exam week to have a look at the Singaporean Chili Crab festival when I was supposed to be studying. Of course it is simply because the fact that I am an avid fan of seafood particularly arthropods that I chose the festival over CA11 (in all situations anyway). Since the festival was held the day before our nation's gloomy 51st Independence Day, it has brought me to the state of politics (again) and has made me the whole day thinking why was the festival not-so-Singaporean?

When I first arrived, I knew it was going to be a lot of liquor bottles (Tiger Beer was the sponsor) and even had glimpses of so-called Malays who were supposed to be Muslims chugging down a few bottles as well. NOT a rare sight in London obviously as few more other awkward encounters of Malays drinking, still fresh in mind, in C&R Bayswater. However, what puzzled me more that day was the settings and decorations did not really depict the so-called multicultural people of Singapore, when only red lanterns were seen hanging, loyally waiting to be blown away by the wind of summer.

I did enjoy the food though thanks to Kiasu who took charge of making the chili crabs, kuey tiaow and mee. The chili crab was excellent but a bit pricey and I blame it on myself thinking there was going to be free food. But hey, the drinks were free! Something so unexpected from the money-minded nation. Despite all this, still no sign of Malay or Indian food.

The Singapore model is more like a DAP model. In fact, the ruling party was actually a parent-party to DAP until Singapore left Malaysia and even had a tie with them for many years. They will make sure of equality among races and promotes harmony among the people. All languages and cultures will be respected and even the Malay language is one of their all 4 official languages English Malay Mandarin Tamil in that order.

The other day I also had a chance to chat with Jonny Hua, a Singaporean facebooker whom I met at a virtual poker table. The first question I threw at him was whether he can speak Malay. He said "No". I then asked him if Malay language is a compulsory subject at school and he confirmed that, adding that the other two would be English and Mandarin.

I asked him whether he can speak Mandarin and of course he could it was only a question made to be fair. However somehow he couldn't speak any of these 'Gorilla language' as once said by a Malaysian blogger.

Singapore adopts the National School system where there is no such thing as vernacular schools. It's a one-school system with English being the language of communication in schools. Bahasa on the other hand, can be said as only a second/third language. I can imagine being like them struggling as I took Arabic and French but so far from being a good communicator in those languages, evidently from a recent trip to Paris when I ended up speaking English instead.

But what I can see that National School system does work in the sense that we need one dominant language to communicate with all. And Singaporeans use English as the medium of interaction. It is a startling initiative to promote harmony but the question now is about identity.

Why I'm saying Singapore is a confused nation? Because I do not know if Singapore is like a Little Hong Kong or China when there were only lanterns and other Chinese decorations in the Chili Crab Festival with performances of Kung-fu and Lion Dance only. Where are the Tamil songs or Malay dances showing how multicultural Singapore is? The Festival did make me feel confused if I was at a Singaporean festival or Chinese festival.

And the fact that English is technically their first language, how can you call yourself a former Temasek once ruled by the Malays until then the imperialist English took over? Should you be calling yourself Little Britain now?

A confused nation would mean a nation with no identity and failing to protect its sovereignty, being raped by the culture not of their own.

The good things that we can be proud of being Malaysians is that we all can speak Malaysian Language well and have three major cultures where all this is performed during Malaysian Nights and Festivals. While Islam is the official language, people are free to embrace any religion they want to practice and religious monuments, buildings and statues are all permitted. We even have festivals based on races like the Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya or Wesak Day. All this might be hampered by the fact that we have vernacular schools which can polarises the people based on races.

However, this might be an act to protect the rights of the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia and to respect the social contract while some of their children are still struggling with the Malaysian Language. But I still think we need to remind ourselves that we do have one official language which is the Malaysian language, a language not just mine, but all of us Malaysians.

This has made our nation being unique.

I wonder what would DAP say if we suggest to them that vernacular schools to be abolished if equality is their agenda.

There are still many areas that we can improve on for a better Malaysia. Eradicating poverty and corruption should be the main agenda. A fairer distribution of wealth while killing off cronies and monopoly should be another way to gain the people's confidence. Closing the economical gap should promote harmony as well so that Malaysians do not see Chinese people as rich people while the Malays, Indians, Ibans, Kelabits are the poor people. The people on the other hand, should work hard and help the people who are in need regardless of races.

These are some of the things that we can do to materialise the Malaysian dream of a developed nation, while protecting our sovereignty from modern imperialism through economic invasion.

There is still much work to do.

Becoming Singapore is not one of them.


Anonymous said...

Before we point our fingers at others, please look at ourselves. Singapore is not the laughing stock of the world, but we are.

As a Muslim, please remember that there is no such thing as Melayu, Cina or India. All are made equal, unless you prefer UMNO's brand of Islam Hadhari. Please do not stereotype wealth with race. UMNO Puteras and other BN cronies are many times richer than average Malaysians, be it Chinese, Indian or non-UMNO Malays. There are also poor people of other race, why a race-based economic system? Please be honest to yourself and count how many well connected Bumiputera Malaysians who got rich by being given free shares to become directors of listed companies, not because of merit but because of NEP requirements? Rezeki macam ni halal ke tidak? If others get rich through hard work, then they deserve it, whatever race they are.

In case you are not aware Singapore is one of the least corrupted nation in the world. They must be doing something right while our country has squandered billions of rakyat's money in the past 50 years. BN politicians, some of them frequently use the name of God Almighty are the ones who are pocketing these sums, feeding their children with these ill-gotten gains. Isn't it ironic?

What about the latest illogical ISA detention? Shoot the messenger and spare the culprits? If you are truly pious, please search your soul and find out the truth and don't be easily misled by the desperate and corrupted.

I suggest we sort out our own backyard before we criticise others. Singapore may not be perfect, but it is way more advanced and equitable in many ways than our nation.


Jeg said...

You are missing the whole point.

I was not talking about corruption or economic-related issue within Spore.

This entry is mainly about the multiracial Singaporean culture being made to no avail and sovereignity of a nation.

Also on identity/originality of the nation.

I appreciate your comments but please be relavant to the issue I am actually discussing.

Thanks. Selamat berpuasa.

Jeg said...

And didn't you just repeat what I said regarding the things we need to improve in Malaysia?

e.g cronies, corruptions etc.

Except for the part of ISA in which I have also said being misused for political purpose but its existence is still relavant.

No, ISA should not be abolished. It's the people who misuse the power that should be 'killed'.

Let me remind you that in the UK and US there is a system just like ISA commonly under counter-terrorism act. Charges and warrants will take a long time to proceed and the culprit will get away before we know it.

Even if Pakatan Rakyat is to assume power in the federal government, PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE ISA. But use it wisely. I don't want anymore Ayah Pins or terrorists or HINDRAF II causing distress amongs races roam around my country freely.

Anonymous said...

Ayah Pin strikes up a giant teapot, and we launch a manhunt on him

A reporter makes a report on a racist politician's rant, and she gets detained

We set a policy of reducing fuel price to be on a certain date....and then have it implemented within 48hours (approximately)

We have the tallest buildings in the world, but most of our people can barely afford to go by a month without struggling

Politicians drive Proton Perdanas and fly first class / private jets to their apartments in London

We have three races united in the country, living in harmony, but scratch the surface, will always have a negative stereotype of a different race.

We talk about racial unity, but we use race-based politics.


I love this country to bits, but unless people just calm down, relax and stop bickering, shit is just going to happen.

Oh and one more thing, dont call people 'so-called Melayu' or 'so-called Muslims' just because they drink. Doesnt God forgive those who repent their sins? Who are you to judge? Just because someone has a beard, wears a jubah and doesnt drink, doesnt make him better than the next guy.

But then hey, who am i to judge?


Jeg said...

What I meant to say 'so called Muslims/Malays' is why are they drinking when they are supposed not to? I know they can always repent but look, the thing is about life is that we can't actually toy with God.

But you can't just do all the sins and repent later, right?

At least the person who has a beard, wears a jubah and doesn't drink has already obtained pahala for following Sunnah.

So what does a Muslim get by drinking?