Wednesday, 15 April 2009

New And Old Citizens The Same?

Don't be mistaken that there has been nothing to write over the past month that I've been missing. On the contrary, it was frustrating to see so much happen yet not have the time to pen down my thoughts.

Well, today I read about how we should learn from Western culture and adopt their hospitality practices to welcome and integrate our foreigners (TODAY article). What raised my brow was that this advice (decree?) was offered by our Minitor (Minister+Mentor - to save space) who, at one point in time deemed western (specifically American) cultural influences as 'decadent' - as described in the excerpt below from the book Cultural Politics and Asian Values: The Tepid War by none other than Dr Michael Barr (bio with picture) who has written extensively on our founding father.

Personally, I feel a tad annoyed with the suggestion that, "There is no difference between race, religion, new or old citizens." Really? How about the 2 years and annual 14-day-disruption-to-lifestyle that 'old' male citizens have to sacrifice serving National Service? Now, I'd call that one helluva big difference, wouldn't you? A difference that can be markedly witnessed when 'old citizens' apply for jobs, no doubt.

And what's up with referring to natural-born-Singaporeans as 'old citizens' anyway? First of all, many will just assume it's in reference to senior citizens which would add unnecessary confusion. Second, the connotation is that existing Singaporeans are no longer relevant or useful - not unlike how our elderly Singaporeans are typically referred to (and treated).

Granted, the Minitor (for clarification: pronounced as 'Mini-taur') was addressing a largely China-based crowd at an event for a niche audience and made these remarks in Mandarin - so it could have been coined for the target audience or the meaning may have been lost in the translation. Nevertheless, it is disappointing to read such labelling of those who call this place home (in good times and bad, mind you) and makes me as an 'old citizen' upset yet again for being Singaporean (through no fault of mine).

Uniquely Singapore, I hear you say?

In come the new...................and out go the old?

sources: (left) daylife & (right) flickr