on Malay Cultural and Racial IntroversionThe following article is inspired by consideration of a post by 'The Rot Within'. An abridged version of the thoughts below have been placed as a comment in the aforementioned.
"Lee Kuan Yew in 1988, defending the introduction of GRCs: “when [Muslims] feel differently and want to eat separate from me, I respect them.”
Mr Lee then went on to speak of how his own generation of politicians who worked with him had integrated well, including sitting down and eating together. He said: “But now, you go to schools with Malay and Chinese, there’s a halal and non-halal segment and so too, the universities. And they tend to sit separately so as not to be contaminated. All that becomes a social divide.”
He added that the result was a “veil” across peoples. Asked what Muslims in Singapore needed to do to integrate, he replied: “Be less strict on Islamic observances and say ‘Okay, I’ll eat with you.’”
it is not that people choose to sit apart from the Chinese because they are culturally introverted. Rather, it is the Chinese whom aren't accommodating of difference enough for one to look forward to sitting with.
Nonsense. It’s the Confucianisation of the chinese that leads to others keeping away from them. Ever tried talking to a Confucian? - provided you aren’t that is. Shallow, arrogant, self-absorbed. I do associate with them, but try not to get analytical about things, don’t talk about things they are not accustomed to, and you’ll get along fine. Or else, you might be called 'chong hei'(long winded), a troublemaker, 'think too much', 'talk too much', 'twist words', or be simply ignored. I can talk to the other races about anything. But not to those chinese whom are Confucianised today - which, unfortunately includes just about every chinese I’ve encountered in singapore the past decade. That wasn't the case in the 70s or up to the mid-80s when mandarin wasn’t ‘cool’ and chinese culture wasn’t lauded as it is, unfortunately, at present, over all others. The Chinese I knew then, weren’t culturally and perspectivally introverted. They were relatively backward, yes. But they were open to difference, and learnt. But now, it is not that people choose to sit apart from the Chinese because they are culturally introverted. Rather, it is the Chinese whom aren't accommodating of difference enough for one to look forward to sitting with.
And if you think about it, it were the Malays whom were pretty advanced...
...in taking on other cultures in the musical and dance sense. There were many Malay rockers back then, not as many Chinese, Indian, Eurasian rockers - The Indians and Eurasians, musically, were more mainstream. The Malays were very individualistic, whilst being communal at the same time. There was a fine and effective balance - which all the other races could have learnt much from. The Indians were advanced in the cultural sense in their taking on western ideals, and wit - which is to be expected given their multicultural culture. Compared to either the Malays, Eurasians or Indians, the Chinese were the most backward perspectivally and creatively. They played the role of observers in the vibrant interactions of the other races as they couldn’t match with the rest - now they can, but it is only because the others have been assimilated into Confucian culture and have become less.
But, the Chinese I encountered in the 70s and 80s did pay attention to difference, appreciated it, and tried to incorporate it into their persona. None of that happens at the present. The tables have turned, with the aid of the pursuit of Confucian cultural supremacy and hegemony, racism, discrimination, and now, xenophobia - all initiated by the government. Though ‘chinese’ culture itself tends to promote this, it was exacerbated and reinforced by governmental bias.
As for Muslims/Malays, they have no problem eating with anyone
I don’t see Lee KY going on about how Buddhist vegetarians should ‘Be less strict on Buddhist observances and say ‘Okay, I’ll eat with you.’
They just don’t eat what everyone else is eating. There’s nothing wrong with that. Unless Lee thinks that food isn't food unless it is garnished with pork. Vegetarians don’t eat everything others eat either, but that doesn’t stop them eating with others right? I don’t see Lee KY going on about how Buddhist vegetarians should ‘Be less strict on Buddhist observances and say ‘Okay, I’ll eat with you.’ That’s just his attempt to create a difference where it is insignificant and inaccurate for the purpose of insinuating that the 'Singaporean', aka, ‘Chinese’ way, is the preferred way. It's his attempt to extol the open-mindedness of the 'Chinese' way. However, all facts throughout s.e.Asia serve as evidence that the 'open-mindedness of the Chinese' is true if it is defined as being 'open-minded' about things only if all things are pursued the Chinese way. Singapore's evolution into a Confucian state is testament to that. This, of course, and I reiterate, is due to governmental racial/cultural favoritism.
And given the discrimination and marginalisation the Malays have had to endure, given that singapore was actually their country once, is it any wonder that they might not be as thrilled with the chinese? But the Malays are an accommodating lot. If not, they might have branded all you chinese, and indians as well, as ‘foreign talent/trash/etc’ and kicked us all out - like the chinese-led ‘opposition’ sector is fond of doing with the new foreigners. Self-absorbed hypocrites. The Malays didn’t take a similar line. Too bad the chinese learnt nothing from that, hence, their current xenophobia. Something for the chinese to think about.
The Chinese may be ‘native born’ now - as they are so fond of citing to differentiate them from the 'foreign talent/trash' of today, but there’s nothing ‘native’ about their persona. Nothing Malay or Indian about it.
The Chinese may be ‘native born’ now,
...as they are so fond of citing to differentiate them from the 'foreign talent/trash' of today, but there’s nothing ‘native’ about their persona. Nothing Malay or Indian about it. They, thanks to the efforts of the PAP, and the apathy of the ‘opposition’, are a product of a foreign monocultural (China) culture that has its way by ignoring all difference and the potential of cultural (malay/indian/chinese,western)fusion in singapore. Nothing local about that, if you think about it.
Personally, I’ve always felt more comfortable with the Malays as they are very hospitable, accommodating, and pleasant. They are animated, jovial, daring, and quite individualistic - My first girlfriend was a Malay. However, given all that has transpired the past decades, there is more brazen and obtrusive delinquency amongst the Malay youth today - unlike the past where they just did their own thing and didn’t bother anyone. The culture has not been allowed to develop to its maximum in the face of other cultures. Rather, it has been kept to its minimum by the enforcement of an overarching Confucian culture that gives no room for the vibrant and individualistic expressions of the Malays. What’s not socially applicable is left underdeveloped. At the normal levels, they stick to what they’ve always done. At the underclass levels, given their marginalisation and the way the Chinese have been made to distinguish and distance themselves from all difference, they’ve become belligerent and have a siege mentality. Hence, that is a significant contributor to the evolution of Malay underclass behaviour of today. The issue is even more complex than this - sociologically, psychologically - but the above are some of the main factors for ‘the difference’ that we see today.
It's not that the Malays haven't become one with others. It's just that they've been told that to be one with others, they must cease to be themselves, whilst the Chinese can continue being themselves.
It's not that the Malays haven't become one with others. It's just that they've been told that to be one with others, they must cease to be themselves, whilst the Chinese can continue being themselves. Who's culturally introverted here mate? Lee did as much by banning the tudung (hijab) in schools on the one hand, and promoting Chinese culture throughout the country on the other. The opposition, especially Chee Soon Juan, did kick up a fuss about it, but thereafter stuck to Chinese interests, generally.
Well, if you've got any conscience at all, think about it. This article, by the way, is not purposed to sow the seeds of discontent with the Chinese. Rather, it is intended to sow the need for critical introspection so that we might reap true multicultural harmony and fusion.
In the final analysis, when the tudung was taken off the heads of the Malays in schools, blinkers were placed on the ears and eyes of the chinese that served to inhibit their ability to appreciate difference.