Singaporean enough?

When I go to the coffeeshop to order a cup of coke, I am greeted by a China-girl, who can't speak an inch of English, and tried to mouth back my order in barely comprehensible mainland Mandarin. The local prata shop staff which resides in the coffeeshop, is constantly frustrated at her, to the point of bad-mouthing in terms I can only say are ungracious. They've tried so hard to communicate, telling her in English, that the used plates are to be placed inside the bin, not on their counters, but to no avail. All she knows is Hua Yi.

Several months later, I observed the China-girl was still around, slightly improved, yet still barely comprehensible Mandarin. I wonder how does someone with zilch English continue to have a job, when born and bred Singaporeans who are of a similar or better educational level are struggling to find one today. The service is obviously shoddy. The patrons are obviously frustrated. This is a coffeeshop, where all races converge. Whether for a cuppa, or a meal of hor fun and nasi ayam, beer and coke alike. Yet the coffeeshop owner probably found it logical to employ someone who does not speak in a common language (read: English), leaving those that cannot speak Hua Yi to leave, perturbed.

In another case, a friend of mine who happens to be a Malay, and who has been working in a large IT company had already upgraded to a degree. He submitted his transcripts, and applied for a raise. HR never acted on it. Months later, the company employed a young diploma holder, with zero experience, and paid him $600 more than my friend! That young diploma holder, happens to be someone of Chinese ethnicity.

Obviously, my friend was upset. This should not happen in a country that practices meritocracy. Not affirmative racial discrimination like our neighbours upstairs. We believed in the Singapore system, only for us to realise that the Singapore system treats us like 2nd class citizens.

Another friend of mine. No. wait. Several friends of mine of a minority race, applied for jobs at a government agency which was non-security related. They were well qualified. They had degrees. Some with Masters. Some others with Honours. All rejected. And the funny thing was, this agency was suffering from a lack of civil servants which were to be deployed to institutions of enlightenment, leading them to go on a massive campaign to attract more of such civil servants.

It puzzles me, this Singapore I live in today. How could a country I so dearly love, as I grew up in the 80s, which embraced multi-racialism suddenly become so un-Singaporean? The tide of discontentment is growing, even among Chinese Singaporeans. People are unhappy. I've never seen such a level of discontentment with the country in my life, and this is probably unprecedented.

I have nothing against speaking Mandarin, so long as you give equal treatment to the other official languages, especially our national language. I love the fact that I can understand some Mandarin, enough for me to survive, especially when I'm faced with China service staff. I'm partially Chinese myself! But this country, I feel, has lost its soul.

I dare to ask you Singaporeans, especially those who are not trained in the National language (Malay), do you really know what each verse in our anthem means?

Mari kita rakyat Singapura sama-sama menuju bahagia.

Do you know what bahagia means? It means, happiness. That's the first stanza in our anthem. The first stanza asks all Singaporeans achieve happiness as one people. As one nation. Yet, what are we today? Are we happy? Are we one people? One nation?

After nearly 44 years of independence. After nearly 44 years of secession from Malaysia, where they practise open, affirmative, discrimination. We are a shame to our own ethos. How in the world did we end up practising discrimination here?? And how did we become so unhappy with nearly everything around us?

So many people are finding this country to be increasingly foreign to them. Its like we're foreigners in our own home. Obviously, this country needs change.

Do we vote in the opposition? Its quite obvious, most people feel the opposition does not possess a better calibre of candidates that the incumbent possesses. So personally, I'd rather not vote in an inept government. We will have more to be unhappy about.

I'd rather ordinary Singaporeans do extra-ordinary things to change this country. Being a Libertarian, that's the only thing I know best. That things will not change, unless you take ownership of your problems and your issues. The government cannot be depended on for everything. So take charge of the things you're unhappy about and change it.

If there needs to be a campaign to enrich Singaporeans with our other official languages, then so be it. We need to wake up some Singaporeans who are not sensitive to the minority groups. If there needs to be a movement to end racial discrimination in the workplace, then so be it. We need to kick out racism in Singapore because it is inconsistent with our Singapore pledge, "... regardless of race, language or religion ...". If people are losing jobs because someone decides to let go of people who are not his kind, its time we gave people a wake up call, that we are Singaporeans first. Not this race or that race.

We are Singapore. Not Chinapore. We are Singaporeans. Race should never be a factor. We are a country that embraces multi-culturalism, not a country that tries to force a culture's language over its disgruntled minorities.

I love this country. And I want it to regain its soul. Her citizens need to learn about her heritage and her history. Her people needs to be united in order to progress further.

We, the citizens of Singapore
Pledge ourselves as One United People
Regardless of race, language or religion
To build a Democratic Society
Based on Justice and Equality
So as to achieve Happiness, Prosperity and Progress for our nation

We are the only country in the world that has a minority language (Malay) as the ONLY National language of its country. But her citizens do not speak her tongue. We are a country that believes in meritocracy and racial equality. Yet somehow, we've managed to not practise them.

Singaporeans, this NDP, things will change. The theme for this year is called "Come Together". The NDP committee has drawn its inspiration from the pledge. And asks her people to reflect on it. Particularly the bit that says, "One United People".

Singaporeans, we've come a long way from third world to first. We've attained so much wealth, but we are not wealthy. Not where the heart is. So I ask you to reflect with me and other like-minded Singaporeans on this country we call home; it's anthem, its pledge, its crescent and stars, its red and white. Have you been Singaporean enough?

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