The Myth of a common Singaporean Identity

The following is an excerpt of an article by Muhd Shamin from the site, 'i'm getting personal', entitled, 'I am from Bangsa Singapura'.

ed's comment follows.

“Which brings me to the question about race. What relevance does it hold for me? Nothing. The diversity that we have in Singapore is a blessing for us all. It makes us more tolerant of each other's differences. It makes us know more things about the world.

No race is superior. It is just a myth created by those in power to instill intolerance. Aren't there Malay graduates who are just as competent as Chinese and Indian graduates? Aren't there Indian businessmen who are just as rich as a Malay or Chinese businessmen?

In the SDP, we do not focus on race. the colour of our members' skins are not important. Nor is there a need to create a bureau to represent a specific group of people.

Of course, there are still problems that affect specific ethnic groups. These are caused by PAP policies. But when we speak up on these issues, we speak up as a a party, Chinese for Indians, Indians for Malays and Malays for Chinese. We speak as Singaporeans for all Singaporeans. I am confident that it will remain that way.

And through this party, the idea and ideal of Bangsa Singapura - the Singaporean People - will prevail.” - source: i'm getting personal

Perhaps if you did focus on 'race', then you might discover that 'multiculturalism' in singapore refers to people being 'same like the chinese' despite the colour of one's skin or the orientation of one's tongue.

I was privileged to witness and be socialised by a truer multiculturalism in action in the 70s and 80s. And again, for half a decade in the 90s in the UK.

Just because we look different but think the same does not mean that we have a common identity delivered via multiculturalism and egalitarianism.
If you think about it, sometimes when we become more like the 'majority' whilst the 'majority' didn't become more like us, we might think that it is multiculturalism because we have lost our own unique personalities. We grow up thinking we like what we like, do what we do, think what we think, talk what we talk, because that is 'us'. But it could very well be because the overarching monocultural climate has made us this way. Just because we look different but think the same does not mean that we have a common identity delivered via multiculturalism and egalitarianism. In truth, what the singaporean of today are is the aftermath of the domination of one culture over all others.

This is especially the case for the younger generation - such as yourself, seelan, etc. And as Chee, of the SDP, was privileged enough to be part of the 'preferred', it skips his attention - given that he rarely makes a fuss over that which would, has, and still does, cause a public furore in the UK.

As my chinese friends of my own age group, and whom remember the 70s and 80s version of 'Indians', have stated, 'Indians now are more like chinese. They look different, but think the same as the chinese'. And i add, 'and think that they are multicultural simply because they look different from the chinese.'

At the end of the day, it is the difference in styles of thought, and the degree to which it is appreciated and considered, as opposed to tolerated and ignored, by others that determines if we are a multicultural state or one where difference is being assimilated via the majority. In a multicultural state, the common factor that can unite all difference is our being appreciative of difference. That is the basis that can serve to comprise a 'common identity'. Without this, all we have is an identity that will gradually become no different from a preferred 'majority' or culture. The question we have to ask is if we have become one through assimilation or integration.

Keep well,


related article: syed alwi tourist information, an illustration of fascist racism

[above image is a part of an old singapore 10 dollar note. Modified by ed for the promotion of multicultural egalitarianism and harmony.]


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