The secret Singaporean teleportation device.
Singapore has invented teleportation. Yes, that is right. The fabled means by which a person is transported, whole and intact from one place to another, unharmed, in many a science fiction film, appears to be operating well and truly, in Singapore. I say this for one very clear reason: where has Singapore gone?
If you are in Singapore, today, I invite you to look around you. What language are people speaking? Where are they from? How do they think? What do their passports say? Yes, that is right: they are speaking Chinese and they are from China.
Though I entered Singapore, some years ago, I have been transported, without my will or permission to China. I have been teleported...and so, too, has everyone else who chose to live, or was born, in what they thought was Singapore.
Let us look at the evidence. On public transport, recently, I have begun to notice advertisements written ENTIRELY in CHINESE. Now, that struck me as especially telling. You see advertisers only ever tell the truth in one way: by what they do. If they try to write to you in Chinese, it means, without question, that most of the people they are trying to reach are, in fact, Chinese speakers. That advertisers would do this, at all, in a country that, until recently, had English as its first language, means that these people they are trying to reach, are NOT comfortable in English, at all. Therefore, they cannot be native born Singaporeans, who learn English at school. No, the advertisers are telling us that a large chunk of their audience are now exclusive Chinese speakers. That can only mean one thing: the vast hordes of Chinese immigrants to Singapore, are now so numerous, that they constitute a major audience for advertisers.
Listen, too, as I have, to the complaints of Chinese PRC students who come to Singapore to learn English. What they say is very funny, really. Many a time, they have complained to me that they thought Singapore was an English speaking country - so they chose to come here to learn English - but what they find, instead, is that EVERYONE seems to be speaking in Chinese. They hear Chinese everywhere. On the minority of occasions when they hear English, it is, they complain, usually Singlish - which, even they recognize, is a poor form of English that is not what they should be learning, if they plan an international career (which they tend to). Thus, they feel cheated. They were led to believe that Singapore would be a good place to learn English - but it turns out to be pretty much just like another province of China.
The speed of this change is astonishing. The whole character of Singapore has changed, since I first came here, in 1999. It has become much more Chinese - in every way that it could become more Chinese. Such is the speed of the change that it is little exaggeration to refer to it as "teleportation". It is as if one fell asleep in Singapore and awoke in Shanghai.
Although I am an outsider, to Singapore, I am concerned to witness this change for it means that Singapore's minorities are becoming ever more marginalized within their own nation. Think what this means for Malays and Indians, Eurasians and "Others", who grew up in Singapore, being told it was a racially integrated, multiracial state in which all could live happily together and each race, culture and religion were equally respected. This is what they were told and led to believe. Yet, what do we see happening now? There is a flood of immigrants of such huge proportions that it is distorting that balance in one racial direction. Singapore is drifting away from its multiracial roots - and becoming a monoracial Chinese state. Even if this is not publicly admitted, the ADVERTISERS know this. They would not be crafting adverts especially for a Chinese audience ONLY, were it not for two circumstances: there must be present large numbers of people who do not speak English, but who do speak Chinese and THE OTHER RACES ARE BECOMING NUMERICALLY UNIMPORTANT.
Quite simply, advertisers would not advertise in Chinese, unless and only if there were more Chinese speakers, than English speakers. It must be so, that more people in Singapore understand Chinese, now, than understand English - otherwise it would not make good sense to create Chinese only adverts. It is easy to see how this could be so. Singaporean Chinese people generally understand both English and Chinese. PRC immigrants, however, almost always have atrocious English, but speak Mandarin. Thus, some advertisers have chosen to pitch their ads in Chinese - to cater for the influx of Chinese immigrants, whilst still being accessible to Singapore's native Chinese community. However, I personally find it rather galling that they are ignoring those who speak English, Tamil and Malay but not Chinese.
One set of ads I saw, by SMRT, addressed the issue by having an English version and a Chinese version - and that is fair enough. However, I have yet to encounter an English version of the other Chinese ad, I saw, recently.
This emphasis on Chinese is worrying. You see Chinese is the language of a particular race. The way the school system is set up in Singapore, children get to learn their mother tongue - or racially specific tongue. Thus, generally speaking, non-Chinese Singaporeans will have little or no Chinese language proficiency. However, English acts as a unifying tongue, in that all learn it. So, they would speak, Chinese and English; Malay and English; Tamil and English. This was fine, because all could relate to each other, in English. Yet, let us look at the future of Singapore. The emphasis is turning towards China, the Chinese and the Chinese language. This is a language not taught to Singapore's minorities. It is, therefore, an exclusive language and a DISUNIFIER, if I can use such a word. The Chinese language is a barrier to understanding between Singapore's races. If Chinese becomes the dominant language of Singapore (which it may very well, looking at recent trends), then Singapore's minorities will be shut out, from this new Singapore. They will be even more marginalized than they already are.
There is strength in diversity - be it racial, linguistic, cultural, or in terms of religion. Yet, that inherent strength does not appear to be appreciated by the powers-that-be, in Singapore. The aim, now, appears to be towards a lack of diversity and a predominance of one race, one language and one culture. To my mind, this is a pity, since much of what made Singapore an interesting place was its historical diversity. Should Singapore's future lack that diversity, I think it will have lost something that it will only miss once it has gone.
What puzzles me about all of this is why Singapore thinks it needs to become more Chinese, just because China is on the rise. Singapore was already three quarters Chinese. Most Singaporeans already speak Chinese. So, what benefit can there be in making it more Chinese than it already is? There are no real advantages to doing so. Already, Singaporeans had enough people conversant in Mandarin, to communicate with and trade with China. Importing legions of immigrants from the poorer provinces of China (because people from the richer provinces won't come), does not, to my mind, improve Singapore's ability to trade, do business, or co-exist with China in any way. Singapore already had the ability to do such trade, commerce, communication and so on, very well.
Making Singapore into a little China is going to weaken it. You see, Singapore's diversity has allowed it to relate well to many parts of the world. Reducing that diversity, will only reduce its ability to deal with the wider world. The more Chinese it becomes, the less Western it will become. This may make Singapore less appealing to Western countries, doing business in Asia. What has been of great benefit to Singapore has been its open-ness to the West. Western businesses have found Singapore very easy to relate to - because of its English and Westernized set-up - and this has brought great wealth to Singapore. Making Singapore more Chinese, might also make it less appealing to the West - since it will become less easy to communicate with. So, just as Singapore might think it is increasing its ability to relate to China, it is also decreasing its ability to relate to the West.
Perhaps Singapore doesn't care. Perhaps Singapore thinks that China is going to be so huge that it doesn't matter about the rest of the world. Well, pause. China is but one source of income. If China runs into real trouble and Singapore has become too dependent on its relationship with it - then Singapore will have a real problem too.
Singapore should not become too Chinese, if it is to remain a country open to the wider world. Its diversity has given it many options, in the past - throwing that diversity away, will only narrow its options as a state.
Another factor that has been forgotten in this headlong rush to become Chinese: the effect on Singapore's existing minorities. No thought has been given to how it must feel for the minorities to become increasingly marginalized. Suddenly, they are surrounded by people who cannot speak either their mother tongue, or English. Suddenly, adverts are popping up, written solely in Chinese. Suddenly, their work places are filled with people who only speak Chinese and who expect them to speak Chinese. Suddenly, Singapore seems less open to them, less welcoming. So, I am left to wonder: how has this upsurge of Chinese PRC immigrants affected the EMIGRATION of Singapore's minorities? Has it increased? Are more Malays and Indians, Eurasians and "Others" leaving because Singapore is rapidly becoming unfamiliar to them, perhaps even closed to them?
I doubt that I will be able to find figures for this emigration - but, if there has been an increase in the departure of minorities, this will only quicken the transformation of Singapore into a monocultural state. Yet, I suppose, that must be the plan, anyway. Were it not the plan, there would be an equal balance in the kind of immigrants brought into Singapore. There would be a healthy influx of Malays, Indians, Eurasians and "Others", so that the racial mix would not change. However, that isn't what is happening. Almost all the new immigrants are PRCs from China. So, though it is not stated, Singapore is clearly planning to become effectively a Chinese nation. Who knows, perhaps one day it will even be a part of China. By that time, of course, no-one would notice any difference, because it would already be a part of China, in essence.
Looking back on all the countries I have visited and lived in, in my life, I realize that the interesting ones had great diversity of people, cultures, races, religions, lifestyles, ideas, hopes, ambitions, loves and dreams. Singapore's history has given it diversity, has given it the potential to be an interesting nation. It would be a shame to see it throw that away, in exchange for a sterile uniformity. Whatever the Chinese and China have to offer Singapore, it would be unwise to forget that other races and other nations have things to offer too. So, I hope for a diverse future for Singapore and hope that the present trend to monoculture, is never fully realized.
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to:http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.
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