Monday, February 13, 2012

No chance for Singapore Indians and Malays

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In earlier times Singapore was an English speaking former British colony, with the rule of law, the English language and equality between the races. Also it's people were protected from indiscriminate immigration from abroad as it is now. If matters were left alone, Singapore would have found it's own direction. It's lingua franca and customs and practices would probably have been more Western than Asian, and the different races would have been able to develop under their own steam. Perhaps today, Singapore would even have been predominantly Malay instead of Chinese and there would have been a much larger and more vibrant Indian community with all races equal and mutually cordial.

Singapore was indeed the Gibraltar of the East as the British used to call it.

Today Singapore is very different. Over the last 50 years Lee Kuan Yew an ethnic Chinese himself has had other plans. He was dead bent on making Singapore not a multi cultural country but a predominantly Chinese city with Chinese language, culture and traditions at the expense of Indians and Malays.

People were encouraged to speak Mandarin, radio television and other media were told to increase Chinese broadcasts while that of Indian and Malay was suppressed. Over the last decade plane loads of Chinese immigrants from Communist China were brought in to make sure that the Chinese population is increased even further while that of others declined.

Today we have about 78% or 80% Chinese population while that of Malays have declined to something like 13% while the Indian population has shrunk to no more than 8%. If current trends continue, these figures are going to decline even further to perhaps 10% and 5%. Even today it would be wrong to call Singapore a multi racial country. It is in fact a Chinese city with a miniscule Indian and Malay minority.

The opposition parties especially the Singapore Democratic Party and the Reform Party shows off their highly talented Malay and Indians members and aspiring politicians. In the Reform party, the chief himself is a non Chinese, part Indian and part English, the son of the late JB Jeyaretnam himself.

In today's Singapore which is predominantly Chinese, I wonder whether these non Chinese are wasting their time trying to achieve political office. With a divided racial city where the Chinese are in the overwhelming majority, regardless of how good you are at making speeches (in English that is), none of these people have the slightest chance of succeeding. In the first place, most of the Mandarin speaking population would not even have understood you and even if they did, why should they vote for a non Chinese person whom they know little or nothing about (remember the state media gives no coverage to opposition politicians).

If they ever had a chance, it has to be in a group constituency where they are elected by virtue of their Chinese colleagues being elected. In other words, a Malay or Indian political aspirant can only hope to play second fiddle to his Chinese Singaporean politicians, even though he has the highest possible qualifications.

True, it is often said that that JB Jeyaretnam, a non Chinese opposition politician not only won but increased his lead the second time. But the circumstances then were very different. I know because I was there. JB Jeyaretnam (he only speaks English) never spoke alone. Whenever he did, it was with his colleague in the Workers Party Low Thia Khiang next to him. Low spoke first in Chinese and then JB Jeyaretnam. It was Low telling the Chinese to vote for the Indian! If Jeyaretnam won, the credit goes as much to Low Thia Khiang's brilliant Chinese oratory as to JB Jeyaretanm's speeches in English, which I suspect many didn't even understand.

The phenomenon of the late JB Jeyaretnam is unlikely to be repeated. For one, Singaporeans today are made up more of foreign Chinese imports who know nothing of Singapore's history let alone anything about JB Jeyaretnam. Being recent immigrants they would understandably vote for the Lee Kuan Yew's PAP to show their appreciation. And as we speak even more Chinese immigrants are being brought in making it progressively more difficult for the non Chinese oppostition politicians.

Looking at the hard work being done by these Indian and Malay men and women on the ground, highly trained British and foreign educated dedicated men and women, I have to say it breaks my heart. In a normal playing field, they would have deserved to win hands down. Among them we even have PhDs and Oxbridge graduates. Their qualifications are excellent. The only problem is their ethnicity. They are not Chinese and that is an impediment in a Chinese Singapore.

I do not have any solution for them. Sadly, the only thing I could say is that it is their own fault. Malay and Indian leaders did nothing and stood idly by, while Lee Kuan Yew went about aggressively for an entire decade bent on turning it into a Chinese city. Well, as the wise man said, if you do nothing,this is what happens. It is too late now.

They can of course now attend crash courses to learn Chinese. But doing that would demean them instead of instilling confidence as it would be seen as an acknowledgment that Singapore is indeed a Chinese city, not an English speaking one.

This is my advice to PhDs and foreign trained non Chinese professionals who are working with the opposition to bring about change. I congratulate you. However as the racial cleansing in the island continues, you really don't stand a chance. What you have to do is to aggressively stop the rot. Take to the streets, peacefully and demand that you are treated as equals, stop the immigration of anymore Chinese and demand real equality for all. Unless you are prepared to do this, I am afraid, you are probably wasting a very valuable life.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Disbarred from practicing law in Lee's Singapore, imprisoned and refused entry to the island for criticizing Singapore's judiciary in this blog (see blogpost May 29, 2008 Singapore. Judge Belinda Ang's Kangaroo Court)
Actively practicing law in California and in good standing at the California Bar.
Member in good standing as a lawyer in England and Wales (Barrister).
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

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007 said...

The ethnic cleansing in Singapore, although non-violent, has been extremely successful in ensuring that Singapore citizens of non-chinese descent are sufficiently harrassed, intimidated and marginalized to voluntarily emigrate. I do not believe there is anything that can be done to stop the government in its determined efforts to eradicate non-chinese citizens, as those remaining are powerless and too few in numbers to resist.

Anonymous said...

And that is why i hope to migrate soon...

"Overseas Chinese" said...

As a Chinese myself raised by parents on classical Chinese education and having spoken with a significant amount of Chinese-Chinese on this matter...

Do you realise that as "Chinese" we do not consider Lee Kuan Yew as a "Chinese" or "one of us" in terms of culture?

By mandating the "Speak Mandarin" programme it has eroded significant cultural values and use of dialects. As such my generation (1980s babies) are highly disadvantaged in doing business with other ethnic Chinese in Malaysia, Taiwan and even China because we don't speak their language.

With regards to Chinese vs Malay vs Indian population and racism. I've never seem racism so strongly expressed today, as compared to 10-20 years ago when I was growing up. Nowadays Chinese actually actively disassociate themselves from Malays, Indians and vice versa whereas back then it was a lot more harmonious. Singapore in the 1990s still had a sort of "Kampong" feeling. Today it is heavily driven by capitalistic measures (not entirely wrong) which has caused huge divides especially when it clash against cultural values (notably the Malays are more affected in my opinion)

With regards to politics, it is only natural that one chooses one own and it is how you communicate with the elected body. A significant amount of the body politic, think 40 years old and older are still more fluent in mandarin and dialects. If you cannot communicate with them, you cannot represent them, you will not be elected which you concede this point yourself.

Your point on JB Jeyaretnam and Low Thia Khiang draws a parallel with the early days of PAP. It also shows your lack of understanding of Chinese culture and what westerners like to call "Guan Xi".

As for the assumption of new PRs voting for PAP... one article I've read a few years ago expressed the views of a PRC. The opposition wants to severely curtail their rights and no one would ever vote against their self-interest unless they are altruistic and self-sacrificing.

"They are not Chinese and that is an impediment in a Chinese Singapore." - That occurs everywhere. Racism is prevalent, even among Chinese such as distinctions between Northerner and Southerner, Dialect groups such as Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese etc.

=== === === ===

In closing,

There is probably very much moral persuasion and justifiable reasons in your article but it also reflected a lack of understanding of Chinese practices, customs and attitudes and that will lose you a lot of political capital, especially when it is implied that the Chinese population approve of current practices.

More than anything else, criticisms from conservative Chinese citizens have often been the lack of consideration for tradition and higher thinking.

There is a key unifying factor in Singapore and it is now missing, which is Singlish, common sport, food etc. Nowadays you see Malays (more so than Indians) communicating in Malay privately when among a large group instead of our de facto lingua franca (i.e. Singlish) and doing so simply removes them further from the cultural group.

Your tone on PhD and foreign-trained gives me the impression of British and many people still have poor impressions of foreigners, especially the fact that there was the wave of "caucasian managers" and all that fiasco in 1980s - 1990s which many Singaporeas (Chinese, Malay and Indians alike) were all dissatisfied with.

I'd say, stop playing a long racial lines. It wouldn't work. A inclusive policy is needed and to reflect a higher level of thought and consideration for the big picture.

Anonymous said...

Ahh...typical overseas singapore Chinese. I had a few Caucasians asking me where I am from and they range in age from mid 20s to even a 60 years old. When I said Singapore, guess what they said? Is that in china? haha...had that coming. Yes, there are racism everywhere in the world, but when you are discriminate against in a different country, it feels less painful then when you are living in your own country. When I suggested to my child to learn Chinese in college, guess what she said. ''Why should I learn Chinese when they refused to learn English.''

Gopalan Nair said...

To Overseas Chinese,

I am not really sure what to make of your comment. In many respects it appears I am compeletely on your side. For instance what you say about the races being friendlier to each other in the past is entirely true. For instance, when I was in primary school, most of my best friends were all Chinese. I remember Ping Yong and Chuan Kian who was the best student in primary 6. I was the second. If they are reading this, please contact me.

But Lee Kuan Yew deliberately divided the races, by his concentration on Chinese culture minus other cultures.

In the past Singapore was a western English speaking island in which everyone also knew their own languages. Today Singapore is a bilingual country with Chinese and English without any other languages. That is the problem.

When Mandarin Chinese is spoken openly among others in public and with deliberatley increasing the Chinese population at the expense of the other races, they don't stand a chance in the world.

I am not against anyone Chinese. They have always been our friends. In fact traditionally Singapore Chinese are no different from any Singapore Indian or Singapore Malay. But we are not the same as the Communist Chinese recent immigrants who have a culture and mindset carved out of the Communist Marxist philosophy. And neither am I close or similar from the Indian from Tamil Nadu India whose practices and customs were created out of life in India.

But give me a Singpaore Chinese or a Singapore Malay and I would be at home with them anytime, provided they are not the ones moulded by Lee Kuan Yew's racist brainwahsing.

At the end of the day, we are all human. But I would rather enjoy a Tiger beer with a Singapore Chinese, Singapore Malay or Singapore Indian. At least they would understand my jokes better.

Anonymous said...

its a good article if the chinese in spore regard indians as friends why r we being called KILAENG KIA APU NEH NEH ATHNEH PUTANEH MAKING STUPID JOKES OUT OF THE TAMIL LANGUAGE QUESTION UR HEART N SEE U WILL FIND THE ANS

Anonymous said...

What can I say? We all know tat Singpore is RACIST COUNTRY. Racial harmony doesn'T EVEN EXIST. And, to my indian and malay friends, you guys are talented.

One things for sure, the chinese aren't happy that malays won the singapore idol three times in a row. They insult the other races. They think tht their language is far more superior. they are not.

If it's not for the predomidant mlays nd indians here, Singpore won't be wht it is now. Not a kmpong historicl area. You guys won't eveen know whts prata!

And wht do you chinese people do? Bpush us round on buses nd trains.