Saturday, December 17, 2005

Diversity and Singapore

I've written about this before, but somehow, I always come back to the subject when I visit Singapore. This morning's Straits Times has an editorial imploring Singaporeans to Embrace Otherhood and the diverse population which lives in SGP. There's always this pseudo-propagandist type of stuff in the paper. I say "pseudo" since I believe there's a portion of the population which really wants to live a more liberal, PC lifestyle. I also think the SGP government would love nothing more than if its citizens embraced each other in brother & sisterhood.

The thing is though, this ain't happening in the everyday SGP I see. While there is certainly mixing of races, it's hardly commonplace. Not to say the Bay Area is the bastion of racial mixing either. But then again, we don't have the daily paper asking us to shake hands with the person sitting next to us on the train.

Very odd, this type of encouragement coming from seemingly on high. I've written before about how the SGP gov't takes a sort of parental attitude towards its citizens, trying to get people to act a certain way, not just because, but because there's a sense that the entire country will benefit from the various programmes & nationalism being put forth.

Having been here every year for the past five years, I don't think it's just the gov't which wants this, but there's also a small, but visibile portion of the citizenry which wants this. This group of people all seem to be leaders in way or the other: either in some position of political power or something like a writer for the paper. It's sort of like collage campus. The provost wants the student body to better themselves and the people running the college paper have strong opinions about how students could act for the betterment of all.

Now that I think about it, the Daily Bruin was something like that. Not that they always presented a single side of the story, but there was certainly a level of preaching which the editorial staff imparted on us lowly student readers.

Anyways, I might write a bit more later about the two undercurrents which sort of flow in the paper. One is about the rightness of the Singaporean way of government - economics, policy, etc. The other is about how the Singapore way of life is a farce when it comes to multi-culturalism and personal actions. Very odd how these two collide in the paper. It essentially produces a feeling that the govt has the right plan for its citizens, but that people need to better themselves also to lead a more enriched life and take advantage of all the govt has put forth.

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