Getting into this box is what's best for both of us. During your time in the box, you will learn so much, and yet experience so little. It's a wild ride, my friend, one well worth the time spent...and let's face it, you don't have much to do these days anyway.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Diversity Singapore.

Seems like of late, there've been a number of cases of ethnic violence brought about by immigration and immigrants in ye olde anglosphere:

Hispanics purging Blacks from neighbourhoods,

Sword attacks taking place on London streets,

62% of Frenchmen believe they no longer feel at home in France,

And it seems like diversity > rape in the hierachy of victimhood. Hah.

A muslim who raped a 13-year-old girl he groomed on Facebook has been spared a prison sentence after a judge heard he went to an Islamic faith school where he was taught that women are worthless.

Adil Rashid, 18, claimed he was not aware that it was illegal for him to have sex with the girl because his education left him ignorant of British law.

Yesterday Judge Michael Stokes handed Rashid a suspended sentence, saying: 'Although chronologically 18, it is quite clear from the reports that you are very naive and immature when it comes to sexual matters.'

Oh hey, I never knew that ignorance of the law was still accepted as a valid excuse anywhere! But the trend doesn't appear to be so much a particular ethnicity, as opposed to the point of immigration. Singaporean muslims are a nice bunch; I live and work with them every day. They have their heads screwed on right, have been here since time immemorial as the natives of the region, and by all appearances like being warm, safe and fed like any other Singaporean.

Point is, whether it's because of the constant pounding of the Singaporean government back in the 60's and 70's of "we're all Singaporeans first" or more practical and less idealistic reasons (such as the government's death grip on anything and everything, as well as the local cult of meritocracy), Singaporean malay muslims are a much friendlier and nicer people than some of their fellows pouring out of Indonesia or even the morality police across the causeway in Malaysia.

So, no, I don't think it's a problem of ethnicity, or at least, ethnicity alone. Everyone in Singapore seems to be playing along nicely, even if it does take the spectre of the state to encourage people to shake hands and be friends, and allocate public housing according to the demographic makeup of the nation.

No, the perceived problem is the mass importing of "foreign talents" (a local colloquialism) from everywhere in the region from the Phillipines to the Anglosphere, but a lot of focus has been on PRC immigrants of late. Since Singaporeans are simply not breeding enough thanks to the state reducing everyone into a well-geared cog in the giant economic machinery of the state, as well as the stupid local sentiments that somehow include iPhones into must-have list of a child, the Singaporean government's solution is exactly as what you anglosphere countries are doing - import people.

Yes, Singapore was a nation of immigrants. But to use that claim to try and extrapolate the past to the present is quite silly, for the simple fact that Singapore has changed since then.

Here's an infographic showing the most recent official breakdown of Singapore's population:

So, even assuming that all citizens are locally-born and not foreigners granted citizenship, that's a whole 40% of the population that has had nothing to do with growing up in Singaporean culture, nor have had much to do with the experiences and expectations of being a Singaporean. Being a bloody conscript, for one.

Let's see what things were like back then, and compare them to now, shall we?

Singapore 1960s and before:

*One important thing to remember is that in the 1950s to 1960s, there was a large Malayan nationalist movement amongst the ethnic chinese in both Malaya and Singapore. I'm not sure if the ethnic Indians were caught up in it, but I do know that a lot of local chinese began thinking of themselves as citizens of the region. Not citizens of the region first, but citizens of the region only. There was a push to learn the Malay language amongst them, for one.

*While we're on the point of languages, English provided a bridging language and a point of development for the nascent Singaporean culture. Prior to the founding of modern Singapore, most of the ethnic groups remained in their own enclaves and spoke their own language within their group. In order to communicate effectively with each other, they needed to learn English - this was encouraged by the fact that the British government carried out its business in English. My guess is that the use of English to interact with other ethnic groups, something that was not present in the root cultures the immigrants had brought with them, forced people out of their comfort zones and made them develop something new.

*There was a huge effort by the government during the 1960s and 1970s to get people to adhere to the new Singaporean identity. Members of the local ruling party proclaimed the need to be Singaporean first, and social engineering was carried out on a massive scale - for example, the old ethnic enclaves were forcibly broken apart, and public housing projects allocated according to the demographic makeup of the nation. Even the apartments were designed with common corridors and void decks in the hopes of getting neighbours to meet each other in the morning.

I'm sure there're other reasons - these ones are just off the top of my head - but my point is that there were huge pressures, both from the new Singaporean government and within society itself, to form a nascent Singaporean identity that's evolved amongst the locals over the last few decades. That's the point - throw together a couple of different fruits with their own flavours, push the button on the blender, and you get a mixed fruit juice with its own flavour, to use a simple analogy.

Now let's take a look at the "foreign talents" which our government has been importing in considerable numbers - it's estimated that 1 million of Singapore's 5-odd million population may currently be comprised of PRC immigrants, quite a number if you think about it. The rest of the immigrant population consists of folks from the anglosphere, who have largely passed under the radar (save that of our local women), or those from the Phillipines, Bangladesh, etc, who just come here to work on work permits and eventually go home after their permit expires.

*The immigrants don't need to learn a new language or be subject to the integration measures that still exist. Most PRC fellows who emigrate to Singapore can get along with Mandarin pretty well, and they tend not to interact much with the malays or indians, in my experience.

*I haven't looked in-depth into the resale market for public housing, but my guess is that it'd be easier for one to purchase a resale flat than one directly from the government without going through the hoops of old. This means that the immigrants either live in a) dormitories, b) resale or rented flats or c) private housing, if they're wealthy enough. This means there's nothing stopping immigrants from forming enclaves if they so desire. Maybe I should look a little more into this, see if it is happening.

Just two points, again, off the top of my head, but it's quite undeniable that there's nothing in the way of social or governmental pressures in getting "foreign talents" to acclimatise, especially with our government backpedalling in favour of the new multiculturalism and doing away with the old "Singaporean above ethnicity" in favour of "ethnicity and understanding of our roots makes who we are" when most Singaporeans these days identify with Singaporean culture, which although has identifiable portions (especially on the surface) with its root cultures, is still something very much of its own. It's easy to make that mistake that way.

What's interesting is that no one complains really vigorously, say, about Bangladeshi workers. They come to Singapore, take the construction jobs local workers don't want to take, and go back home when the job is done. This can't really be said about the less-educated PRC immigrants - while Singaporeans are famously apolitical and apathetic, in addition to the government keeping a lockdown on such views in the media - there nevertheless is an undercurrent against said group amongst a number of local sites raising concerns about the immigrants' bad behaviour, lack of rootedness to the country, prejudice against the malay and indian community, so on and so forth. It's quite a doozy to try and draw parallels between what's going on here and in the US and Europe, and see if the same root causes still apply when mass immigration is applied on a smaller scale.


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