In response to Sg Indian's views on Indian Nationals

part 1 of this article - ed smacks singapore indian's rant against Indian nationals

The following is ed's response to Jegadisan (the author of the article quoted in the aforelinked article). Jega's full response may be found in the comments section in the aforelinked article.


Thank you Jega, for your response. Commenting on an article written by someone on such an issue, will tend to elicit a strong response from myself, and especially when it is published in TR - certainly a fascist neo-Nazi site. In that, my response was more of an attack on their platform from which such views are broadcast. So apologies for the tone, but the points are still worthy of taking issue with.

“First and foremost, I guess we need to define what talent would mean. Talent would imply that a person has a special natural aptitude. It could therefore be viewed as a gift or someone who is extremely capable.”

I beg to differ. When it comes to those whom display such ‘natural aptitude’ when they are young, despite the environment not qualifying as the cause of such aptitude, yes, we can call them ‘talents’. Other than that, we ought to see ‘talent’ as caused by ‘nurture’. I’ve been called ‘talented’ myself for time to time - for my intellectual, artistic, musical, ventures - but i’d rather see my aptitude as a consequence of particular environmental factors. That gives us more control over what we become don’t you think. In the context of this issue - FT in SG - ‘talent’ refers more to the contrast between the haves and have-nots. In other words, foreigners supplying skills that aren’t to be found locally in required numbers. It is that definition that we’ll have to take in this case as it is relevant to the discussion of foreign ‘talent’ in singapore. And it is definition we’ll also have to take in attributing meaning to what that Indian national said - unless he elaborated on it to refer to more.

“I did not make any claim that they have to love living in Singapore. The original author claimed that they were working in Singapore “against their choice” as he put it.”

Point taken. But you’ll have to admit that when that point is put together with the other points you made - their not being loyal to singapore, and viewing singapore as a stepping stone - attributes an implied meaning to the aforementioned statement that implies that they ought to ‘love living in Singapore’.

“Lions do eat grass, but mainly to force themselves to vomit.”

Haha. I didn’t know that. But I see that you appreciate the analogy. I’ve heard it often enough in Tamil.

“When I said that we are not against “true talents”, the point I was trying to make is that if someone really has that special ability that is above and beyond the norms, then we should welcome them because they would provide a true benefit to us.”

Your statement can be viewed as idealistic in that singaporeans, and to be honest and accurate, the Chinese, do not like ‘talents’. Even locally, to stand out, to critique a commonly-held norm, to dress differently from the majority, etc, etc, is frowned upon. Even locally, talent has been extinguished by this convention. On what basis can one then move on to claim that foreign talent would be welcome. Of course, on the other hand, we can say that foreign talent is more welcome if it is foreign or, preferably, ‘white’ talent. That is why, Indians might find it difficult to get a job teaching English because the Chinese might not want to admit the superiority of Indians when it comes to the English-language, and hence, move on to employing ‘Caucasians’ - i was myself rejected by a few local schools for not being ‘Caucasian’ - they blatantly asked me if i was, and when i said i wasn’t, they said that they only take ‘Caucasians’ for the job. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it certainly does. The funny thing about it is, as Indians, we are ‘Caucasian’ as well. But there’s no point explaining these things to the Chinese as they shut their ears once they’ve had their say. This is just one instance. I’ve heard many other over the past couple of decades. So you can then understand why when difference is eradicated, talent is what the thus lesser minds will confuse for talent.

In a nutshell, to say that Singaporeans ought to welcome foreign talent, whom are really ‘talents’ with open arms, one has to ensure that this is already done locally with locals. When the latter can be verified to be untrue often enough, one can plausibly say that the locals wouldn’t know talent ‘if it bit them on the prostate.’

“In my own experience, a wide majority of the foreigners I come across cannot be classified as “talented”

You do have a case there. I acknowledge that. I’d say that some of the Indian nationals would have their resumes forged a tad to get a job overseas. But we cannot say that this is true at most times if not, as certain reports go, Silicon Valley would be half-Indian, and with many Indians being behind technological innovation, and with Infosys being the 2nd in the world. You don’t see singaporeans, or the Chinese in s.e.Asia achieving that do you. If you want to talk about unskilled talent in singapore, just look at all the chinese nationals whom are pouring in as prostitutes, restaurant owners, coffee-shop cleaners, karaoke hostesses, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc. That is not happening in the case of the Indian nationals is it. And you’d rarely see TR taking this up on a racial basis. They’d rather vilify all foreigners.

Another point is this. Whilst I’ve met Indian nationals whom seem to be ‘talented’ in their professions, and employed by foreign MNCs located in singapore, like Credit Suisse for instance, I’d say that the bulk of Indian ‘talent’ that might be more ‘talented’, go to w.Europe and the U.S. Singapore basically gets the dregs - those whom aren’t good enough for those countries, or those whom are, but can’t get there because of lack of vacancies due to a decline in foreign intake by those countries that came about a few years ago.

You’ll have to consider these as well besides your personal experiences. One has to study the global trends, media, etc, etc, so as to tweak our own perceptions. No personal experience is enough to conclude. What is required is a study of experiences beyond our own in order to triangulate and cross-check our own. That would be the scientific approach.

“There is an old Indian saying. What you have learnt is like a handful of sand, but what you have yet to learn is the size of the earth. The more I learn, the more I realize the less I know. Therefore, I have always tried my very best to continue on my learning journey, and have never stopped. I find that there are always new things to learn and that is what makes my life interesting. Maybe, I will take up your advice and read up on Chinese history, though it has never been something that really interested me. I was never much of a humanities person, preferring math and science primarily.”

Damn good attitude. Social reality can never be adequately understood via maths and science. But it can certainly sharpen one’s appreciation of it provided it is complemented by the humanities amongst others - i.e. political philosophy, history, sociology, psychology, art, music, ....all of which i’ve more than dabbled in over 2 decades. If you look at the great philosophers of history, they all dabbled in a combination of maths, science, philosophy, art, and music. I appreciate the mutually dynamic and dialectical relevance of these seemingly divergent subjects. The chinese, generally, aren’t interested in philosophy. People whom are not into difference, and leave politics to the professionals, and whom are just interested in the ‘practical’ (which can be paraphrased with ‘self-centred and short-sighted) generally aren’t. That is why their history is one of bemoaning the consequences of their continuing apathy, and relying on continuing apathy to compensate for it. Quite tragic actually. But in my personal life, i’ve helped quite a few Chinese get past this culturally-induced debility, and in the past few years, some Indians as well who’ve become more Confucian with the passage of local time.

“there is a general sense of conformity amongst most, it is not necessarily an overriding theme.”

It certainly is an ‘overriding theme’ in singapore. Perhaps you might not notice it because when overarching conformity is established and becomes the norm, the independent thought that you will henceforth see is actually operating within the confines of an overarching conformist structure. If everyone become like children, you will see non-conformism, but only in a childish way. Putting in another way, creative thinking amongst fools produces produces a variety of foolish pastimes. But that doesn’t make it any less foolish.

I’ve studied this through the media productions in singapore, opinions of people in personal interactions with people of all classes, age groups, genders, faiths, etc. Even in personal interactions i’d put forth a novel opinion and study the facial expressions of the person, how many times they look away whilst i’m making the statement, how many responses they supply, etc, etc.

When you put this together with the promotion of chinese culture over all others, the language and customs on a national scale, the maintenance of a chinese majority, amongst a multitude of other factors on a governmental, social, media, architectural, cultural, economic plane, one will be able to appreciate how it certainly is an ‘overriding theme’. You just have to have a persona that isn’t Confucianised to appreciate it. Thankfully, with my positive experiences of 70s singapore amongst the Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians, and with my experiences and interactions in the UK in the 90s, i’ve been saved from the perspectival debility that afflicts everyone i’ve encountered in the post 70s and 80s singapore.

I’m glad that you experience within your work milieu has been quite positive. Your bosses Chinese? If so, most interesting. Sometimes if bosses are accepting of difference, it can also be because your is of a relatively lower position, and your advance is solely dependent on them. Hence, they can use your independent mindedness, but always keep you on a leash. My cousin is in a similar position as well.

“It is also necessary to understand that the general sense of “toeing the line” is something that was ingrained into our young by both parents and teachers alike. It was a general sense of not wanting people to question the status quo simply to make it easier to manage.”

This ‘toeing the line’ thing is a Confucian/Chinese thing. It isn’t an Indian or Malay or Eurasian one. All cultures have this ‘toeing the line’ thing. But this line is pretty long when it comes to the Indians whom are accustomed to venturing into the accepted and the norm, and past it. If you look at 2000 years of Indian philosophy, that is obvious enough. When you look at 2000 years of Chinese philosophy, you will appreciate how short that line is, and how it has always been connected to state-sponsored thinkers. That is not the case amongst the Indians amongst whom philosophical control is not only in the hands of the Brahmins, but also the nude ascetic, the wondering ‘sanyassin’, or someone meditating unwashed and unclothed under some tree somewhere and whose hair would blend well with the roots of any banyan tree out there. Whilst ‘toeing the line’ makes things ‘easier to manage’, it also serves to transmit oversights and deficiencies from the past to present. ‘Toeing the line’ isn’t a bad thing if it refers to maintaining some form of mutual repect amongst the people whilst they go about questioning everything. Amongst the Confucians, ‘toeing the line’ means not questioning everything. That is Confucian/Chinese, not Indian or British.

An interesting point to consider is that the philosophical in India was not tied to the emperor. The emperor minded his own business and the people were free to think what they wanted. The religious and political weren’t joined at the hip. They were separate. This is not the case in China, and nor was it the case in w.Europe. That is why you could say that Indians were one of the most independent thinkers on the planet for quite a while till globalisation. With globalisation came conformity and Indians began to discard their metaphysical culture for immediate economic gain. Thus, the spate of IT professionals. However, one of the reasons why India could produce so many IT professionals where China couldn’t because people weren’t just sticking to the traditional, and because they had enough cultural vibrance to become extremely logical thinkers. But, whilst they used these culturally-induced logical skills to get into IT, they also discarded the rest of it. So you can say that the Indians are headed for perspectival degeneration.

“To be honest, I find it depressing that after 45+ years of existence, our only true calls to fame are Creative and perhaps Hyflux and Osim.”

The reason why this is the case because the government, with the apathy of the chinese and the helplessness of the Indians and Malays, got rid of singapore’s greatest asset - multiculturalism. The singapore of the 70s and 80s was pretty different from the singapore of today. The government knew that getting rid of multiculturalism bode well for their political longevity. They knew that turning singapore into a chinese state would supply them with the requisite subservience to do as they pleased. But the price paid was that singapore stuck to manufacturing, and then the provision of services. They didn’t become another Japan or India because they had to give up political longevity for it. Japan does not have multiculturalism, but since the Meiji Restoration 1968, - if my memory serves me correctly - it became policy to learn from the west. They also have a philosophy of questioning everything 5 times to get further insight - whilst the chinese, since 221 b.c., have the philosophy of letting their bosses think for them - which is why, generally, they’ve had only one syncretic philosophical school since then (Taoism/Buddhism, Confucianism, Legalism). Hence, the Japs are one of the most intelligent nations in s.e.Asia today, besides India.

Singapore could have become s.e.Asia’s ‘silicon valley’. It could have done whatever India and Japan did put together. The process was underway in the 70s. The government stopped it. The ironic thing about it was, with the dumbing of the people, the government had to move to the next stage of importing ‘talent’ to compensate for governmental-created local deficiencies. And in that, their popularity dropped. They made a mistake there. It’s very difficult to create a truly intelligent population without enough critical cultural introspection (which the Japs did), multiculturalism, and democracy. The government relied on bringing about confucianism, doing away with true multiculturalism, dividing the races, diluting other cultures, and doing away with democracy. The chinese kept quiet as they were advantaged relative to the non-chinese. Now they are paying the price for their self-absorption.

The Chinese, and now the non-Chinese, don't generally think of what could have been given an alternative and more culturally egalitarian situation. To do so would require them to think about what they themselves could have become if they weren't as apathetic and self-absorbed. That would challenge their continuing perception that when things screw up,it's the foreigners whom are at fault or the government and not them. Xenophobia, oftentimes, is a defense mechanism that comes into play amongst a people whom are too culturally biased to question after their own complicity in an undesirable situation.

No big deal about Creative, etc. It may be locally produced, but it is fuelled by foreign talent itself. That is the chinese way. Devoid of local talent, but having made money from the manufacturing phase and extracting money from the people via a host of ways, they are able to buy up foreign intellectual and creative capital. Besides that, they simply play copy-cat and undercut, and use discrimination to ensure that they can get past governmental pressures. But it is unfortunate as this is the only method by which they are able to make it as their government, for more than 2000 years, have always frowned on anything that could compromise their political longevity - multiculturalism, democracy, critical mindedness. The chinese have been bullied by their governments for so long that their strategies to survive has become culture. And it is this culture, lauded over all others, and through them, that has held singapore back from what its egalitarian fusion of Malays, Indians, Eurasians and Chinese could have produced.

“It is not fair trade because when they leave, they leave not just with the money they earned from here, but also deprived a candidate who would continue to stay and contribute to our growth of gaining the knowledge and experience. In a sense, one could view this as a brain drain.”

Singapore’s ‘brain drain’ is an old story Jega. That was already effectuated via Chinese discrimination and governmental racial bias. Quite a few of my Indian friends left. My own brother is law professor in the university of Liverpool. And I doubt he'd consider coming back to Sg.

The chinese like things to be easily ‘manageable’. They do not like being 2nd guessed, contradicted, and appear less than the non-chinese. They can have this by making themselves smarter, but being the majority and favoured by the government, and underdeveloped by the government's racial policies, they do this by simply ignoring difference. That is my 2 decades worth of experience - not really the case in my experience of singapore of the 70s - and the experience of everyone of my Indian friends of the 80s. With discrimination, the Indians and Malays have had to either make do with the professions that are left to them, or end up with lower positions, or be unemployed. I know all 3 varieties. The ‘brain-drain’ in singapore is not to be appreciated only in terms of the non-Chinese whom have left, but also the non-Chinese whom have been underdeveloped given the assault on their cultural self-esteem and self-worth by focus on the Chinese, misrepresentation and underrepresentation of the non-chinese in the media - which affects the children - and the compensation strategies they have evolved to make ends meet or make a ‘success’ of themselves with whatever advantages and sense of self-worth that they are left with. The third 'brain-drain' can be seen in how the Chinese themselves have been compromised by the former two points. They aren't as smart and creative as they could have been - i've encountered more smarter and creative chinese in the 70s.

So whatever ‘brain’ that is being ‘drained’ now via the foreign talent you can be sure that is being drained from a severely minuscule cranial capacity. These things aren’t nice to hear, and i hate saying it. But without the truth, we cannot begin to construct a laudable reality.

“With regards to being parasitic, whilst locals can do more to treat each other more amicably, the point being made was that foreigners are taking advantage of us as a country. We provide them with the knowledge, the experience, some money, and in return what do we get back.”

That is a typically xenophobic view Jega. You forget that foreigners aren’t taking advantage of the country. They are being taken advantage of. They are gaining only a small portion of what they actually work for. That is capitalist reality. And singapore does not only provide them with knowledge, experience, some money, etc’, singapore takes advantage of it and profits from it. You make it sound like singapore is being charitable toward foreigners. It is not a one-sided relationship. But the advantage is always on the side of the exploiters such as the companies, many of which are singaporean by the way. There is no governmental ruling that every company has to employ a particular number of foreigners. That is a local singaporean decision.

Those whom are against xenophobia would realise these points. Just as those whom are against racism would baulk when Indians and Malays are cast as corner-shop proprietors and parking attendants in the local ‘comedy’, ‘Serves you Right’. It is our oversights that determine the degree to which we are a part of the problem. That is quite the litmus test to prove true or false when we claim to not be a racist or xenophobe. A racist or xenophobe tends to have a one-sided perception of things, and which generally seeks advantage for ‘one’s own’. You should study the what the xenophobes globally have to say. You’ll find it differs little from some of what you have said, and much of that is said amongst sg bloggers, TR, etc. Given the wisdom you have displayed in your other opinions on ambition, and the pursuit of knowledge, i’m surprised that you wouldn’t realise these things.

“You also mention in the same breath that we have become a more “dog eat dog” world. However, it is important to understand that this is not necessarily a phenomenon unique to Singapore but something that is happening worldwide.”

That is the usual chinese reasoning - ‘everywhere also like that one laaa’. It always irks me when i hear such nonsense. It is not the similarity that is the important factor here, but the degree of similarity, and the extent to which efforts are being made to get rid of it. In the UK, it is also a dog-eat-dog world, but there is much effort being made to leash the dog and put them in separate kennels. There is much effort being made by a host of organisations to stem top-down oppression and bring about a greater degree of fairness in consumer dealings that is never experienced in the Confucianised state of singapore present. Many things are experienced in singapore which people take no notice of but which causes a public furore in the UK. It is that which we have to think about when we say ‘everywhere also same same one‘.

Yes. You’re right. Capitalism does produce such alienation, antagonism and opportunism. But at least, for now, there are quite a few checks in place, inherited from a more socialist past, that keeps resisting its evils. That is not the case in Confucian states that takes top-down exploitation, and compensatory popular mutual opportunism as ‘like that one lahh’.


Whew! That’s it. Pretty invigorating chatting with you Jega. Good arguments, I have to say. Free free to give me a ‘serapadi’ in response to any of the aforementioned perspectives. I’m off for a bit of cycling for now.


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