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in response, 'the Chinese and Others in Singapore'


The following is ed's response to a comment placed in a previous article. It has been constructed in a dialogue form.

Mark:
Hey Ed,
It's indeed really sad for locals residing in Singapore to make do with the current social and political milieu, be it Indians, Malays or even Chinese, until to the point that they are upholding the perspectives unknowingly and perpetually.

ed:
To 'uphold', oftentimes, refers to a conscious effort to do so. In the case of the 'singaporeans' of today, it is quite internalised to the point that they won't know, or be inclined to be anything but.

Mark:
Note that I place the stated races in that particular order as of all the races,

ed:
Yes, I noticed that straightaway given that it is quite the contrast to the rest of the state, the people, and the 'opposition'.

Mark:
...the Indians could have been the most capable of utilising their intellectual individualism characteristics to challenge the status quo and to bring about positive change.

ed:
Most certainly. It's no accident that the 'lion' of singapore's opposition was an Indian - JBJ. One of the last real Indians, albeit with a British accent.

Mark: 
However, since Indians also tend to accommodate new perspectives, they can be said to be the first non-majority race to assimilate into the overarching culture unknowingly.

ed: 
Yes, i've stated that often enough in previous articles over a few years. Impressive that you appreciate the point. I wonder how many do, are are even willing to.

Mark:
Such is the paradoxical situation of the local Indians. As for the Malays, although somehow they have been able to maintain their culture as it was in the 1960s, they have been threatened by the institution to make do with the institution bias, which as such they have constantly been "forced" to assimilate to live in Confucianised Singapore "sucessfully" economically as defined by the local elites.

ed:
Most unfortunate given that the communality, individuality, free-spiritedness, and animation of the Malay community could have done much in adding creative vibrancy to singaporeans and singaporean culture - its what i call 'primitive vibrancy' in that it serves as fuel for greater things...could have combined with Indian intellectual vibrancy to create much more. It's no wonder that quite a few Indians and Malays had romantic relationships back in the 70s and 80s - including myself.

Mark:
the Chinese, being the legalist-confucian perpetrators, do not have to make do deliberately as they have been "inherited" to use their "make do" mechanism reflexively so as to maintain the status quo.
And of course as for the Chinese, being the legalist-confucian perpetrators, do not have to make do deliberately as they have been "inherited" to use their "make do" mechanism reflexively so as to maintain the status quo. So there, the Chinese will dismiss the conversation with "it's like that one lah", "what to do, it has happened", etc etc. Personally, I used to be the great fan of the "it's like that one lah" but now I have been forcing myself not to breathe a word pertaining to the phrase as I know that the phrase used is the epitome of legalist-confucian culture/capitalist ethos/evils.

ed:
Good one! Keep it up mate. I only use 'it's like that one lah' when it comes to the weather, but little besides. The two phrases I hated the most is that, and 'it's company policy'. I've said, in my irate moments, to my Chinese friends, '2000 years of history, and all you people can come up with is 'it's like that one lahhh' and 'company policy'?! But, of course, that is a natural consequence of legalist-confucian culture and not race. And it would be more accurate to say that the real perpetrator is the government, and not the Chinese people. They are a consequence of the former, but have, as would be expected in any similar case, become the reinforcers of conditions that have left unquestioned and hence, internalised.

Mark:
And yes, personally, when I started to talk about the worldly issue 2 years ago, most of my friends will either fall into absolute silence, or dismiss it with eg "why are you still discussing about A level General Paper, it was over a few years ago" or "can change topic?" etc etc.

ed:
Yes. Same situation with my own experiences. It doesn’t matter whether i’ve just gotten to know the person, or have been associating closely with them for more than a couple of decades; whether the person has little education or is a honours degree holder with a civil service job or one in the private sector; or whether the person is in her/is 20s or 60s. The reaction ranges from what you stated to silence. No amount of exposure seems to work. However, I have one success, and that is ‘V’ who i’ve mentioned in my articles from time to time. It took about a decade with her. But with other races like Indians, Malays and Filipinas, what i might achieve with the Chinese in a decade, I can achieve with the aforementioned from a few weeks to a few months. I couldn’t ignore this difference.

However, over 2 decades, I have met 2 singaporean Chinese whom are pretty open-minded and engaging. One a woman in her 30s by the name of Christine, and the other is the bloke who was sentenced for rape (the toa payoh rape case involving the bloke who helps run a family-business provision shop.) I never forgot his one comment - the last time I spoke to him before he was taken to court - whilst i was buying a couple of packs of beedi, “I like all these foreigners coming. A lot of difference. You can a lot from them. You need difference to learn.” Impressive isn’t it.) Others are English-speaking Chinese of the 70s period, but I don’t see many of those around now, unfortunately. But still, unfortunately, and to be objective, they still fall short of some Indians I have had very engaging conversations with. That said, i’ve met some pretty dumb and arrogant Indians as well.

Mark:
They are only interested in their immediate gratification and their scope of self-interest and can't go way beyond that. And when I start to provide deeper substantiations or underlying reasons for their area of concern, they will tend to fall back on the reactions as stated in the first statement of this paragraph. Even though I may have a moderately introverted personality, I find the current situation quite stifling to bear. And just today, my part-time work colleague commented about Malays in general, labelling them as "lazy", "bastards who seek benefits for free", etc etc in a crowded MRT train. At that instant, I was utterly speechless and felt like digging a hole to hide myself from his racist remarks.

ed:
it would be more accurate to say that the real perpetrator is the government, and not the Chinese people. They are a consequence of the former, but have, as would be expected in any similar case, become the reinforcers of conditions that have left unquestioned and hence, internalised.
Yes. I’ve heard this thing about ‘lazy’ Malays often enough. But I have to say that i’ve heard it from both Indians and Chinese, though not all, and mostly from the Chinese. But what these people fail to consider is that ‘laziness’ is an allegation best levelled at people who enjoy equal opportunities and have access to equal motivational opportunities - like via the media, government policies, etc. In singapore, whilst people might have equal opportunities on the surface level. The Malays and Indians have to contend not only discrimination, but the absence of motivational opportunities as well. This can lead to the underdevelopement of Malays and Indians to the point that they will eventually become suited to that which they are left with. Same thing, as was the case with women in the past.

As the Malays and Indians don’t have these, and as the Malays, unlike the Indians, are able to fall back on communal social support, they will tend to feel more complacent compared to the Indians, whom, whilst having more intellectual individualism than most throughout s.e.Asia - other than the Japanese - do not, unlike the Malays, have as much communality as one of their strong points whether it be from the gang or social levels.

On the other hand, I don’t find anything wrong with the Malay work ethic. The Chinese may come across as ‘hard-working’ and ‘practical’, but that is because it is instigated by political and social apathy brought about by their impotence in the face of a severely authoritarian government - as has been the case for more than 2000 years since the Qin dynasty. Hence, political oppression and opportunism has led to their evolution into ‘hard-workers’ and being ‘practical’, which, in this context, can also refer to mutual alienation and opportunism, fear, and greed, racism and xenophobia - all devices that are used to contend with the consequences of political authoritarianism. That can happen to any nation thriving under an authoritarian government for long enough for the thus emerging culture to reinforce and perpetuate it.

If there was indeed true fusion in singapore, we might have a really nice balance of political and social vibrancy, and economic vibrancy might not reach a point where it becomes a ‘dog eat dog’ world as is the case in singapore.

Mark:
These myriad of issues resulting from the legalist-confucian culture have to be addressed as soon as possible so as to prevent the younger generations of all races in Singapore from assimilating to the overarching culture any further which would render the local Indians and local Malays as "Chinese" in race.


ed:
It’s really too bad that it has come to a point that a critique of racism has to be a critique of the Chinese. It’s true that ‘Chinese’ culture produces racism, xenophobia and intellectual sloth as a matter of course, but in singapore past, without governmental favouritism, the Chinese were being helped out by the more vibrant and intelligent differences around them in a Singapore where Mandarin, ‘Chinese’ culture were not promoted as ‘cool’. But there was a governmental proscription on talking about these things as their policies had yet to be successfully implemented. Now, it’s alright to talk about it as there are hardly any real Indians or more developed Malays to second guess the confucianised status quo. This site serves as ‘the last man standing’, and more accurately, ‘the last true singaporean standing’.

Mark:
And if Singapore were to be part of Greater China, it would render Malay and Indian as the 57th and 58th race. This would be the unimaginable. Legalist-Confucian culture is a "disease" that will possibly "spread" throughout the world. If the world were to adopt this philosophy, I would rather that the world ends in 2012. The first thing that I would really like to see is to raise the racial issue so as to create awareness. However this seem to be almost impossible especially since the ISD is in place to keep the political entity in power and the locals in general, including the supporters of the opposition, are generally not a empathetic lot. I'm still thinking of concrete ways of even executing the first thing that I mentioned. Will share with you in the due course. A lot more needs to be done to find their way to Egalitarianism.

I can go on and on about this issue, but I'll just leave it at that for the moment.

Thanks for your thoughts!

ed:

Thanks Mark.







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