Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ambivalent community

I have a feeling of ambivalence over the government's very vocal advocacy of immigration these days. Even before the PM's National Day Rally speech where he announced the government's open-arms policy regarding immigration, I have already noticed more foreigners amongst our midst.

I take the bus and MRT (subway) to work every day. Nowadays, I hear people with strange tongues on these daily journeys. I noticed that a number of school students are from China. You can tell from their accented Chinese, which is noticeably different from the Singapore Chinese intonation. You also know they are students because they carry files and bags and get on and off the bus at educational institutions such as the SIM University. I have Indian friends but many Indians I bump into on the train nowadays aren't Indians that I am familiar with.

Ironically, I am not sure how they can integrate into our multi-racial society. Singapore's multi-racialism is grounded on government and education. Government is not a problem, so far, but many of these adult immigrants haven't gone through our school system. Coupled with the fact that they may not have deep community bonding outside of their own cliques, I am not sure that they can integrate into the Singapore society and embrace its multi-racial ethos quickly enough. Yet we wish foreigners like them to sink roots here. I have no issue with either objectives. My only concern is how they can effectively blend in. Singapore has always been against people clustering along racial lines, and I understand that community leaders may have a game plan in place to draw these immigrants into the community at large. Still, their backgrounds, education, assumptions and prejudices may be so different that integrating them into the local culture is not a trivial affair.

Can Singaporeans accept them? I mean communicate with them? Voluntarily get to know them in this dog eat dog society of ours? I just feel that there is some sort of barrier and alienation between myself and these people, something that I don't feel when I am with Singaporeans on the same train. Perhaps it is the language, the dialect, the intonation which is so different from mine, ours, when I communicate with fellow Singaporeans.

As more of these people join us, as they surely will, my ambivalence will increase.

2 comments :

nate beaty said...

how 'bout a little credit to where you are hotlinking your images from, eh?

recommendation: ask for permission, then move the image to your own server.

Epilogos said...

Hi Nate

My apologies for the oversight. Indeed, I should have asked your permission before hotlinking to the image on your site.

I have removed the hotlink as I do not want to clutter up and duplicate graphic files in my own server.

You might be interested to know that Google ups the pagerank of sites which have external links to it. This benefits hotlinked sites.