Saturday, October 28, 2006

The race in life

Multi-racialism by food - I was young and lived in the Naval Base, played with people of diverse races. I am a Chinese and there were Indians, Sikhs, Malays and smaller number of Eurasians in that community. We played Rounders and went fishing together. They celebrated Hari Raya and Deepavali, and I, Chinese New Year. Some Indians have even invited me for lunch and that's where I learned to use more of my hands.

We never thought that doing all of these violated any of our religions, which we maintained in our own way. So I am sad when some extreme Muslims begin to preach 'separateness' at the social and community level. Certainly, religious beliefs separate us at a fundamental level, but that does not mean that we cannot enjoy the customs and cultures of a different race. My life would have been poorer if I had not had the chance to interact with people of other races. In fact, today, I still maintain links with these people, many of whom I went to school with, and who I will ever regard as my friends.

It is sad that such multi-racial hodgepodge communities as the one that existed in the Singapore Naval Base, and I believe many other places in Singapore as well, has become almost extinct, what with everyone living in their pigeon-coop fashioned government housing (HDB) and private apartments. For all the government's quota policy and sustained effort at ensuring that each HDB block has a mix of Chinese, Indians and Malays, I must say I have never interacted with any other race in my many years living in one.

My life, and probably my children's life, are the poorer for it.

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Anonymous said...

What to say of Muslims? I am an "other" Singaporean now living abroad - and visiting Singapore is a torture when you see the majority Chinese talking with each other in loud tones in their own langage and at the same time scorning at 'others" - fortunately I speak local dialects and know what they are saying..

Solution - never go back to Singapore says my wife; and she is Chinese Singaporean.

Rae said...

i'm a 20year old Chinese who has lived in a HDB estate all my life and yet, I've never established friendships with any of my neighbours, be it from my own race or others. As for school, i've never had much opportunity to mix with other races, since i was streamed to the supposedly best streams and schools, who had a disproportionately small number of ethnic minorities.