Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Whose Singapore?

I have reflected again on what I wrote in my last post, about Singapore Malays begin less easy to get along with nowadays, compared to 30 more more years ago during my younger days. I must say, in all justice, that I know many Malays who are as friendly and 'mild' (i.e. not militant) as those that I called my best friends in the days of my youth. Now, I even know a person who teaches religious lessons at a Mosque. In my conversations with him, I have found him to be anything but extreme. Instead, he goes for 'secular' courses to upgrade himself, thinks of a whole bunch of options, not quite decided yet, of where to head towards - career-wise. Obviously he is not quite the same as those Malays I have known a long time ago, where striking out on a high performance career was the last thing on their minds. As a religious teacher, he was anything but militant in his outlook nor extreme in his views. And there is one other I know who is so full of life and fun and enthusiasm for life. Being around her can be infectious, and she doesn't spout militancy or separateness. In fact, I have seen recent photos of her in China sans the Tudung - a form of the hijab worn among Malay women. I don't think she is being a hypocrite - just being pragmatic.

I do not want to generalize. There is ample evidence to show that some Malays have become 'apart' but there are others who still are very much my fellow citizen, if not a friend who lives next door. And they can even be nicer than your own kind in some respects. So in this sense, Singapore's race policy has succeeded. While a bad apple may spoil the whole basket of them, there remains a certain resilience in the "regardless of race, language or religion" ethos that has characterized Singapore for well over 40 years.

If this were not so, Singaporeans will be making a bee-line for the exit.

In a sense, this is not Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, it is S Rajaratnam's Singapore.


Anonymous said...

I have always know Malays to be nice people.

lky's mindset is due to his continuing suspicion and ill-disposition towards Malays since the start of his political career. if there is any consolation, it is not personal because he hates the guts of ANYONE who cross his path, whatever his race, religion or nationality. Good obvious examples - jbj, Chee sj, Tang LH, Francis Seow, even old time 'comrades' who went through thick and thin with him like Devan Nair. He likes people like Goh KS, EW Barker, S Rajarathnam etc becasue they handle Lee with kid's gloves or can hold their own against him or are simply pliable.

Anonymous said...

As a taxi driver for 15 years, I have encountered all types of passengers (customers).

My general conclusion is that Malay passengers are the best and the China Chinese passengers are the worst. This is derived from my personal experiences in the last 15 years.