Saturday, January 16, 2010

Letter from Shermaine Chan

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Attached is a letter from Shermaine Chan. Her Email is hidden.
Gopalan Nair

My thoughts

Saturday, January 16, 2010 12:43 PM
From: Shermaine Chan


Dear Mr Nair,

Thank you for your commitment to keep Singapore Dissent alive, even under persecution from the Singapore government.

I am writing to you because I feel encouraged by your courage and that I am not the only one feeling unhappy with the Singapore government.

My biggest gripe would be something close to my heart: How LKY continually clamps down on a person's culture and heritage.

I am a Chinese and I am proud of being a Chinese. My father is a Cantonese and my mother is a Hainanese. Sadly, I don't understand a single word of Hainanese because LKY made it so. He discouraged the learning of dialects and pushed for Singaporeans to only learn English and Mandarin/Malay/Tamil. Thankfully, I speak some Cantonese, which I picked up in Hong Kong during my childhood days. A language/dialect is one of the most important link that connects a person to his or her roots, and I do not understand which idiot told LKY that by knowing how to speak more than 2 languages, our command of the English and Chinese/Malay/Tamil languages would be inferior. Look at how it is now: Many Singaporeans speak broken English and we have become a laughingstock to the rest of the English-speaking world. The young Chinese here very often do not know how to speak their dialects at all and while Singapore continually boasts of being a place of racial harmony, it is often merely racial tolerance.

We have been brainwashed from young about how great and mighty Singapore is. What a lie! We are neither great nor mighty, only LKY and his croonies are rich, powerful and great. The average Singaporean feels like a third class citizen and foreigners from India and China are flocking to this land. Where is our identity? What are we? We should be a country, but we are run akin to a business corporation! When someone asks me where do I come from, I reply in a small voice with eyes downcast: "I am from Singapore."

Recently, I was extremely appalled when I saw on national television how LKY "mentored" President Obama on why America should stay involved in China - to serve as a balance for the rest of Asia. Yes, we all know Singapore is just a tiny dot on the world map. LKY knows that too. While he openly courts the government of China, he is at the same time telling the USA to keep China on track. By him doing this, he smacks of being disrespectful and highly self-centered! What on earth does he really want? He wants to be the best of friends with Communist China and he wants to be on rosy terms with the USA. He wants the whole cake and he even wants to eat it! He wants to roll with the big boys and he thinks that he is the most perfect person to dish out advice to the President of the United States.

Singaporeans are an apathetic bunch because we've been beaten down by the government all our lives - and do not think that we deserve to fight for what we want. I am also guilty of being apathetic. I know that inaction is also action, but what can we do? What can I do? I've thought long and hard about it and have decided that education will be my ticket out of this unhappy place. I have no intention of staying on once the opportunity for me to leave comes.

Until then, I think I would remain one of the apathetic Singaporean and continue plugging along day-by-day.

Thank you for reading this,

Kind Regards

Shermaine Chan


Gopalan Nair said...

During my forced confinement in Singapore island in 2008 under Lee Kuan Yew's orders, I was one night at Singapore's Chinatown food center in the street. Not finding a table for myself and my lady friend, I shared one with a Chinese immigrant and his wife both from mainland China.

Suprised to see him speak excellent English unlike the vast majority of his countrymen, I complimented him on it, to which he replied very succinctly that "Singaporeans speak bad English and bad Mandarin".

He was spot on.

Shermaine Chan said...

Exactly. And what an utterly embarrassing thing to hear. And through no fault of any Singaporean.

I've tried picking up Hainanese to no avail because I want to communicate with my grandmother who is suffering from dementia. Only God knows how much longer she has.

I also read LKY's "Third World to First" book. It was written that he is a Hakka and he had a hard time learning Hokkien to communicate with the people at that time. And what does he do after winning their votes? He tells us, the future generation, that dialects are stupid and unnecessary.

What hypocrisy!

Anonymous said...

Dear friends and countrymen,

I am a Singaporean living and working in western Europe. I graduated from the UK in 98 and headed home(SG) to start my career. However, by 99 I decided to return to Europe after a year in a country that favour "foreign talents"(FT) at the expense of local boys. Most of my friends were having a hard time looking for jobs after graduation, with the economic downturn of the 97-99, and an influx of foreigner working for local terms. We homeboys were really at a disadvantage. Given the same age group, Local boys have 3 years less work exp. due to NS. We also may be recall for reservist activities while FT will never be. From an employers' point of view if I am to employ on local terms the choice is a no-brainer.

Coming to Europe, I got a job doing export sales. Given that I am a Singapore Chinese my language skills (English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien) made me a "foreign talent" in Europe. Now I have also mastered the local language. I am assign to the East Asia market and my dialect was a great help. It allow me to network with business people within these 2 dialect very well. In Singapore I am just an AhBeng with a degree. But out here I feel appreciated and treated as an equal. My wife who is European gets better treatment in Singapore than me. All those talks about rasism in Europe or USA you get in Straits time is only to scare people from venturing out. There maybe rasism in Europe, but nothing is worse than been discriminated in your own country.

Even though I could have taken up citizenship here 6 years ago, I am still proud to remain Singaporean. I believe that one day there will be real changes and Singaporean can really feel that they truly have a say in their country and have real ownership over it (just like my father shouting Medaka with LKY at the padang all those years ago, feeling proud to be the first generation of Singaporean).

I am lucky to be able to learn dialects from my parents and refine my Hokkien during NS when I am assign to the Hokkien platoon. I know alot of chinese friends that can hardly speak mandarin or indian friends that can't speak Hindi. Now with both India and China the new Asia Economic power, they regret not learning their dialects as it was not a cool thing to speak them back in the 70s and 80s.

My advise to Singaporean is
1. start standing up and ask question. It is our country and I believe that everyone should have a say.
2. Opposing a government or a political party in a country don't make one unpatriotic. The ruling party is only a steward of the country acting for the best interest of the people.
3. We should be grateful that there are dissidents from Singapore. At least there are some people that love Singapore enough to dare make a differences.

Sadly our steward has crown themselves King and the people's interest are just a figment of their imagination.

Ah Beng from Europe