When 'Catholic' quite meant 'Singaporean'Looking at singapore, when i look at older couples in their late 50s and 60s where one is Indian (usually the man) and the other is Chinese, i often find that one or both were usually Catholic. That's not really to say that Christianity has much to do with it – though perhaps, the 13th commandment of Christ, ‘love thy neighbour as thy self’ might have helped somewhat – but that the catholic milieu - where Indian, Eurasians and Chinese interacted - tended to dilute the irrelevant and concentrate integration. But I must stress that it was not really a ‘religious thing’ as Catholics then were highly liberal to the point that quite a few Christians I encountered expressed their disdain for them. One catholic brother who later moved on to becoming the head of the ‘missionaries of charity’ of a few s.e.Asian countries said to me in a personal discussion that the ‘Holy Spirit’ went to Muhammad just as it went to the prophets of other faiths, and that we were all one. That just about sums up the Catholic ethos which was more ‘universal’ than ‘christian’.
You could say that the ‘mother tongue’ of the Catholics then, and non-Catholic English-speakers of all races was English, and therefore ‘foreign’, but it served the paradoxically purpose of integrating quite a few s.e.Asian hinterlands into a singular whole that mothered a genre of ‘Singaporean’ that was more representative of what the nation was. And given that the Catholic milieu was more into multiculturalism than 'Jesus' (though i view both as synonymous) they wouldn't have a problem with integrating equally with Muslims and Malays if they had taken singapore's developmental helm.
With such integration, the aforementioned Chinese were exorcised of the ‘Han’ (or more aptly, the Qin) and had the perspectivally vibrant ‘Zhou’ (Chou) reinstated within them. The Indians and Eurasians were already ‘Chou’ given their multicultural background. If this developmental trajectory was left alone, the definition of ‘progress’ and how it is judged would have been very different today.
Today, people tend to make sense of ‘progress’ from a highly monocultural point of view. This view serves as both the starting point of a particular and severely compromised brand of progress, whilst those socialised into such a milieu have become reduced enough to not deem anything more than being able to shop, eat and reproduce as relevant. Thus, everyone is basically ‘looking forward’ from an extremely backward vantage. When I speak to contemporary ‘singaporeans’, they all tend to spout the selfsame Confucian mantra, ‘why talk about the past, just look forward’. What they tend to not have the personality to realise is that if you ignore the solutions of the past, you will make a culture out of handling the consequences of this oversight. That is a hallmark of post-Chou China, and has now becomes the national ethos of ‘singaporeans’. That is why when people, of all races, talk about how ‘singaporeans’ are apathetic; don’t have an opinion on anything beyond the ‘pragmatic’, shopping and eating; don’t have an intelligent opinion on significant issues; cut queues; don’t have enough sex; I always say, ‘excuse me, you are speaking of a Confucian/Legalist problem, not a ‘Singaporean’ one.’ I never found it right or responsible to celebrate a Confucian/Legalist view of things, ignoring egalitarian multiculturalism, whilst blaming all singaporeans for its consequences. The true multiculturals,(or the 'Chou') such as those I’ve referred to above, are exempt from this. They were a true and representative brand of Singaporean, whilst the ‘singaporean’ of today is nothing more than a perspectival reflection of post-Chou China.