What Makes me Singaporean, What Makes another Singaporean
Culture is the first thing that struck me. Someone could have stayed here years, either schooled or worked long enough to pick up language nuances, some discerning hawker food tastes, is rooted here because of friends and family, is invested here for the medium to long term, that makes a Singaporean. That makes me Singaporean.
A Red passport or a Pink IC makes one officially Singaporean, but whether that person is a Singaporean at heart, it is hard to tell. Some who still hold a foreign passport are more Singaporean than someone who was just naturalised. Curiously, Malaysians PR here, they may never want to get a Singapore passport but in so many ways, from the “lah” to similar exposure to food, geography and history, makes many of them “Singaporean” while not being citizens of Singapore.
Some new immigrants who uprooted and sunk their family here, they speak, look, think and behave differently, and they still might be Singaporeans as far as where they believe their future lies. We should not prejudge them and ostracise them, label them as fake Singaporeans once they have a Red passport. Have we forgotten that our parents, grandparents and even earlier generations were foreigners who rooted themselves here. Yes the older Chinese generation still thought of motherland China, but eventually Singapore became their home, and now it is ours.
So what is a Singaporean? Someone who did National service? What about the women. Someone brought up in the kiasu schooling system? There are other ways to be socialised into Singapore society. Someone who shares a similar culture? Probably yes. Someone who shares and is invested in Singapore’s future? Probably yes. A Red passport? Officially and certainly yes.
What makes us Singaporean? Places, food and our Pledge
by Soon Sze Meng
04:45 AM Aug 08, 2012
This year’s National Day Parade theme is “Loving Singapore, Our Home”. To me, what makes Singapore home and helps me to identify as Singaporean is our shared experiences and values.
We have shared experiences with friends and family around places such as the old National Library and the demolished National Stadium. It is no surprise that we bemoan the loss of common spaces that remind us of our growing up years.
Food also binds us together. We reminisce about char kway teow, roti prata and mee goreng when overseas for work, study or holidays, not just because the food is “shiok” but also because of the memories of enjoying the meals with loved ones.
Our shared values reflect the National Pledge. We believe that no one should be discriminated against based on skin colour, religious belief and language spoken. Foreigners should know that these biases are not welcome here.
Institutions such as public schools, public housing estates and National Service ensure interaction among Singaporeans.
We believe that no one should be left behind just because he or she comes from a poor or dysfunctional family. The equality in our Pledge does not mean equal outcomes but that everyone should have equal opportunity to achieve their Singapore dream.
However, rising income inequality means that well-to-do families can provide their children with better pre-school education and tuition. Spaces in popular primary schools for children of alumni and parent volunteers accentuate these advantages.
More worryingly, as more Singaporeans occupy different social spheres due to different income levels, the network that helps one to achieve more in life is diverging significantly.
We believe that no one should be above the law. Our legal system and police force have brought the famous, the rich and the well-connected to court for their alleged offences.
Open and fair elections, where all are subject to the rule of law, have enabled our march towards a more democratic society.
The late S Rajaratnam wrote the 38-word Pledge, polished by Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 1966, when our nation was a year old. It is still relevant, if not more so today. It shows us not where we are now, but what we hope to become.
As citizens, we are responsible for ensuring our national institutions and policies reinforce our shared values, especially with recent societal changes.
This National Day, let us remind ourselves what makes Singapore worth loving as our home: The shared experiences and values worth celebrating. Happy National Day.