Ah-bin wrote:Is Singapore really that fragile? I would have thought Taiwan had more problems than Singapore. what with the hostile neighbour and jostling for power between different ethnic groups,but they don't have problems eith letting people demonstrate any more.
Disclaimer first: I am not an expert in socio-political stuffs, so these are just my "ignorant" opinions.
From my limited experience, unfortunately it most probably is. Taiwan is much bigger than Singapore and is more capable of self survival. Singapore needs water and food from other countries and has no natural resources. In Taiwan the rivalry for power didn't involve riot and mass killing (not counting 228 massacre), while in Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore (then part of Malaysia), that happened for many times already. As a survivor of Jakarta riot (May 1998, btw Medan & Bagan also plagued by riots that year), I really don't want to see it anymore. Not only I couldn't go to work & study (final Univ year) for around two weeks, although by God's grace my family members didn't suffer direct assaults, seeing the destructions and subsequent show of enmity (only a few, but still threatening, e.g. I was punched & insulted for being Chinese, a few weeks after the riot), that was the lowest period of my life. I was full of hatred, insecurity and so on, deep depression that went away only when I left Jakarta for Singapore. I could understand the feeling of those Chinese victims in Malay majority area in Malaysia or Malay victims in Singapore during their respective riot. So yes, I think racial and religious harmony in these three countries as being very fragile. They look nice, displaying a tolerant face, but you never know when it will be a full scale riot. In fact even this year there are still churches burnt, and recently pastors stabbed in Bekasi (just east of Jakarta and still part of Jakarta Metropolis!).
It is easier to do demonstrations in Indonesia and Malaysia than in Singapore. In Jakarta sometimes they burned cars etc during demonstrations. Personally I also agree that peaceful protests should be allowed, but given the fact that they can turn into riots, I kind of understand why Singapore doesn't allow much protests. A lot of Singaporeans like to complain about many things (not that I don't
), and I usually tell them to try to live in Jakarta for one year, then they will know how to appreciate Singapore.
Many policies in Singapore about language, culture, morality, etc., have their root in Harry Lee's personal prejudices and whims, so we shouldn't expect them to make too much sense.
No doubt. Indeed he is very clever and Singapore wouldn't be as good today without him, but surely he did mistakes also (which he acknowledged, though not specific, in interview published in newspaper). Most Singaporeans' feeling about him is mixed, admiration, like him for certain things and dislike him for other things. Surely I think he could have been better, but compared to Soeharto or Mahathir, I would be more than glad to have him.
What Harry didn't understand was that native speaker proficiency in varieties of non-Mandarin Chinese would have aided Chinese Singaporeans greatly in the quick acquisition of Mandarin, but instead by pushing English in the 1960's and 70's he was responsible for creating a large group of Singaporeans who had very little knowledge of any sort of Chinese.
You are right. However I guess this is not among decisions he thought he was wrong. If not mistaken, he was against Chinese schools and closed them because the proponents of Chinese education were against him and wanted a closer relation with PRC. He was pro West, so he was wary of PRC, he didn't realize that Chinese would be an important language... of course now he is a good friend of PRC, and in fact Singapore has learned to be friend of everyone.
The "funny" thing is that now the government still thinks of "dialects" as a potential corruptor of "purer" Mandarin!
Trying to teach this group to reach fluency in Mandarin is almost as hard as getting a bunch of non-Chinese kids in New Zealand to do it, especially if it is treated as a single subject, rather than a medium of teaching for teaching.
Exactly. It is often discussed here in newspapers that many Chinese kids here hate to learn Chinese in school. Even some Chinese speaking parents asked their children not to take Higher Chinese (not compulsory), so they wouldn't get low marks.