SG: I'll tell you what the 'Singaporean' of today means
The following is a response to 'Kojakbt' at the fascist Temasek Review site. Further elaboration follows.
Right! Chinese or Indian Singaporeans are Singaporeans. We are completely different in thinking and outlook from PRCs and Indian Nationals. After close to 50 years of independence, we are completely Singaporeanized. The most important difference, we all got NS and reservist liabilities. These free loaders don’t… remember that…
What nonsense Kojakbt. Indians are hardly 'Indians' in the singapore of today. They are 'chinesified' singaporeans. Not very witty, not too critical, quite inept at metaphorical and metaphysical thought,averse to contradiction, etc. Given the overarching chinese milieu, fragmentation of the non-chinese via the HDB quota system, the need to adapt to the chinese way of thinking in order to get a job or promotion, the saturation of the media with the chinese view of things, singlish being an amalgam of Chinese dialects and English as opposed to Malay and Tamil, coffeeshops playing chinese programmes on the telly, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc - do you think that any culture will not suffer dilution, or its practitioners assimilation? Especially after half a century?
Come on mate. Get real here. Being any 'race' requires a complementary and reinforcing overarching culture. Without that, the family or communal unit itself cannot contribute much unless most of the above conditions aren't true. There is greater similarity between the chinese of singapore and the PRCs than the SG Indians and Indian Indians. What do you think this says mate.
Your 'singaporean' basically means nothing other than the identity that emerges when the 'majority' culture is elevated over all others, and all others assimilate for fear of exclusion, or want of similar others.
I had written in a previous article that Chinese singaporeans, or 'native born singaporeans' as they are inclined to term themselves in the face of foreigners, are, amongst others, a product of the marginalisation of difference; the elevation of China's culture over all others; the government policy to maintain a racial balance in favour of the Chinese, and, in consequence, the casting of all other cultures/races as relatively undesirable.
Chinese culture, or more accurately, Legalist-Confucian Qin(dynasty) culture (a way of thought and thoughtlessness inaugurated from 221 b.c. onwards....I prefer the more intellectually vibrant and individualistic Chou era that preceded it) in itself, due to it's focus on traditionalism, top-down control, subservience, and stressing that one ought not to question the status quo but to make the best of it, founds the basis upon which aversion to difference, conformism, innovative and inventive ineptitude might arise. The imposition of the Legalist-Confucian way of thought in singapore made the Chinese its first victims as it was far easier to appeal to the chinese to take on such a culture as it was the 'culture of their ancestors'. Additionally, their culturally-induced and already-practiced way of social and familial interaction meant that there was already an appreciable degree of 'fit' between the two. Culture did not have to be reinvented in the face of the cultural differences that existed in Singapore then, i.e. Malay or Indian cultures, amongst others. People could just go on with the business of life from the vantage of an age-old way of doing things.
But even though, I would consider the Singaporean Chinese to be its first victims, they were relatively advantaged compared to 'others', and hence, unwittingly, were used to reinforce the cultural and ensuing political status quo.
Hence, when the 'singaporeans' of today talk about 'being singaporean', they are talking about nothing other than an identity that has emerged post-marginalisation and dilution of all other cultures. The relegation of all cultures to the periphery of singaporean imagination; through the HDB quota system, the peripheralisation of other cultural festivities; whilst the culture of 'the majority' was centralised; the economic advantageous reserved for the Chinese; the production of a chinese elite through SAP schools; impressing upon all that the 'Chinese way' was the only way worthy of emulation via discrimination in the media and the need to conform to the emerging way of thought in order to 'get along', get a job, or a promotion; the mother tongue policy then ensured that more industries and occupations would always be the privilege of the Chinese, or at least get them to the topmost positions before 'others' are allowed to study mandarin (in the future), amongst a host of others, tended to put forth 'the chinese' as the standard for everything, and for everyone.
One's sense of self-efficacy was thus made dependent solely on its goodness-of-fit with the Chinese criteria of what was fit. If the 'singaporeans' of today differ from PRCs or Indians hailing from the subcontinent, it is only in terms of the complacency that the Chinese had been allowed to couch themselves in given their relatively advantaged status - not dissimilar to the conditions of the Malays in Malaysia with their 'bumiputra' status - and the others have developed their own coping mechanisms to get around the discrimination that thus emerged and was appreciated as 'natural' in a state where ethnocentrism is deemed to be the right of a racially-defined majority.
Singapore provided the Chinese a unique opportunity to bring about a 'Chou' era renaissance through the existence of cultural streams of thought. It would have bode well for the undoing of the uniform, traditionalist, subservient, and apathetic consciousness that had taken over the evolution of the Chinese after the Chou era. However, as stated, the marginalisation and exorcisation of difference simply served to replicate post-Qin China within what has today become little more than a perspectival province of the China of today. It's ironic that even Confucius preferred the 'Zhou'. And yet, he contributed to a system of thought that enabled it to be relegated to dustbin of history.