Distinctly Singaporean, first

A mature nation of culturally aware Singaporeans will no longer need a hyphenated identity. TODAY FILE PHOTO

In 20 years’ time, I see a country that has developed a strong identity.

The Singaporean identity since independence has been a largely hyphenated one: One is inherently Singaporean-something. Racial policy, defined by the CMIO (Chinese, Malay, Indian, Others) framework has created a society that is essentially Singaporean, yet layered, and hence subdivided along racial lines.

The CMIO may have been necessary in catering to a new nation of culturally diverse people – but a mature nation of culturally aware Singaporeans will no longer need a hyphenated identity.

In the future, we should remain culturally diverse and aware. However, as Singapore evolves in a globalised world, it will grow to embrace its nationality in singular terms. We may be Indian, Malay, Chinese, Eurasian or indeed any ethnicity – but we will become distinctly Singaporean first.

Such a Singaporean identity will be achieved through a shift from tolerance to acceptance. Singaporean society would become adapt at embracing differences with acceptance, rather than tolerance.

The sacrifices of generations past in crafting a nation will become a unifying symbol in our shared history. It is this shared history that will be our primary identity marker. Ensuring its evolution and progress will be our shared responsibility.


The mantra of acceptance will also become an essential aspect of the Singaporean psyche. We will become a society that no longer seeks to exclude but instead, one that includes and involves in spite of discomfort and initial unfamiliarity.

In an ageing society, this will become the basis of accommodation. We will no longer petition our MPs to prevent the building of elderly care centres in our void decks. Instead, we will seek, as a society, to salute and revere not just the sacrifices that our parents made, but also those of an entire generation of baby boomers who played an essential role in creating the infrastructure of a prosperous Singapore.

Our children will volunteer at these centres, not because they crave CIP points, but because it is an essential part of our culture to accept and accommodate everyone.

Our shared culture of acceptance will extend beyond Singaporeans to foreigners as well. As a politically mature society, Singaporeans would have learnt that there is a distinct difference between showing our displeasure towards immigration policies, and directing our displeasure at individual immigrants by subscribing to stereotypes.

We would also have developed a more caring and humane employment policy towards our transient workers and appreciate them for the role they play in Singapore’s progress.

by Pravin Prakash, Aug 09, 2012
Source : Todayonline : Distinctly Singaporean, first


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