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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Singaporean Identity

While driving my mom home, she turned to me and asked, “is there a Singaporean Identity?” I looked at her blankly.

"Of course there is mum. Only in this country would you find people as kaypo, kiasu and kan-chiong as Singaporeans." I answered dryly after a beat.

"I think in a few years… There won’t be one anymore…" She lamented.

And that is the truth. With the expected growth of our country to end up with only 55% of the population being actual Singaporeans, it comes as no surprise that the Singaporean culture might disappear.

The kampong feel of the HDB where friendly neighbours yell out, “Keep your clothes! It’s going to rain!” Or the Karang Guni man shouting from the bottom of the flat. The yakult auntie selling drinks at every door, and neighbours popping by during CNY and Hari Raya.

In Singaporean terms, “where got? Still have meh?” No lah. Disappearing liao.

Let’s be honest, do you even know who your neighbours are? Do you smile at your neighbours in the lift or are you too busy on your phone? Do you smile at your next door neighbour or worry that his PRC ways will get in your way? Singaporeans, be honest, the reason why the Singaporean identity might be lost is not just because foreigners “take over” our country. It’s also because we won’t accept them.

Where is that kampong spirit we once shared? Your neighbours might be your acquaintance, but you don’t actually know them. There is no more the spirit of “let’s share and keep each other happy.” It’s more, “wah, so suay, the water from upstairs drip on your clothes? Lucky not my clothes.”
We’re a bunch of selfish bastards now.

Because of our prejudice against foreigners, we have lost our ability to be nice, not just to them, but to our fellow Singaporeans as well. How can we expect foreigners to integrate into our country, when we don’t even try to teach them our identity, or be just nice to our fellow men?

Has anyone bothered to tell the PRC woman with a little boy peeing in the bus that that’s not common Singaporean habit? Has anyone bothered to try teaching the PRCs next door that curry, though pungent, tastes like heaven? No. We haven’t. Instead, we stand there, watch, and complain about how they don’t understand our culture.

How can anyone learn, when there’s no one to teach?

Our society is sad, we have lost the ability to help each other because all we know is to sit behind the sidelines and have our government take action for us instead. We are a spoilt, molly-coddled society. A society which talks cock but never walks the walk.

Don’t forget, our ancestors were immigrants too. They banded together to create a Singaporean identity. This mish-mash of cultures, this ability to appreciate all manners of cuisines comes from our ancestors ability to accept and appreciate.

We can’t blame the foreigners for wanting a better life! (Partially our government is to blame for inviting too many of them in. STOP IT LAH. NO MORE SPACE.) Since they are here, we have to do our part to help them too! Instead of complaining, “why can’t they speak English?” Encourage them by teaching random strangers at least one or two phrases! Met an exchange student who might one to migrate here one day? Introduce them to uniquely Singaporean things they might not know about! Like the $1 ice cream carts along Orchard, fruit juice (it appears that not many ang mors know about Soursop). Let them play pepsi cola, block catching and all kinds of games with our local kids!
We complain that they don’t belong here, well, if we can’t kick them out, we might as well make them like us. TURN them into Singaporeans.

But of course this goes both ways. If foreigners refuse to accept our ways then clearly, that’s their bloody fault.

I say all this because I want to make it clear that I don’t blame them ALL the time. Yes, I dislike how when I look around all I see are foreign faces, but I just think more can be done than to complain.

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