SINGAPORE: A NATION?
This post is for the politically interested. I decided to include it in the blog as there is a good paragraph (the longest) I have dedicated to communication.
Since this is a political discussion, Please accept and agree to my terms and conditions before proceeding to read:
i) Neither of my parents are lawyers
ii) I am not a lawyer and am not currently studying to be one
iii) There are no lawyers behind me or in the same room of which I am reading this
iv) None of my siblings in any way violate i) ii) and iii).
v) I am not currently engaged in any hearings or court proceedings or in direct contact with any lawyers that I have immediate access to.
vi) I do not have any friends that are in violation of i) ii) iii) iv) and v)
Thank you for your understanding. If you are in any way violating any of the above points please redirect yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3JDxupI6QE&feature=relmfu
If you have accepted the conditions, here it is, read on:
In my personal opinion, Singapore is not a Nation or at least not yet. Rather,
she is one in the making. I would also like to urge others not to be inclined to
label her as one based on an unwarranted association of not being a nation with
Cultures are evident in Singapore, but a distinct
one not observed elsewhere is a rare occurance. With all due respect, I
apologize but using tissue packets to reserve seats does not constitute a
culture at all. Cultures should have an educational or appreciational aspect
whenever a foreigner receives exposure.
Due to the period of Singapore's
independence establishment in the mid 1900s, there just have not been enough
time for Singapore to fully establish herself as a nation or possess generations
of shared historical experience for that matter. It is not logical to compare
her with nations like America where their history dates back to way before and
when it was more possible for individual races to be established. Also, at that
time, mordernization was a more important thing to work towards globally to
achieve a foothold in the world.
Regarding language, English has been a
useful channel of commonality but in terms of having one of its own, my argument
above holds. Jonathan Bok's note that Singaporean's spoken languages in addition
to english had their own style was very insightful of which I would not have
considered had I not read his post. He elaborated that mandarin spoken by
Singaporeans sound different from mainland China. In a way I feel that
possessing a language of a country's own would require that language to be
acknowledged by means of accessibility through education in schools also in an
attempt to achieve ligitimacy so that foreigners can be exposed to it
officially. Once again due to timing, it was impossible for Singapore to achieve
that. Rather, things like singlish and differently accented mandarin were ways
of Singaporean to adapt given her circumstance. For example, I feel that I can
convey more information in singlish in 3 seconds as compared to any other
language. The accents unique to Singapore are in my opinion ways to facilitate
communications between different ethnic groups be it teaching one word mandarin
or short sentences to a malay friend for fun or communicating with
someone possessing fundamental grasp of the language. If an Indian is going to
correspond in mandarin, it is obvious that his accent is going to be anything
but that of mainland Chinese and replying in such is at the very most non-ideal,
thus the accents established are the best possible compromise between more than
one ethnic groups. So although it does not meet the criteria for a checklist
item, it has achieved a more critical selling point, efficiency.
a checklist for being a nation includes having unique ethnicity or culture, it
was impossible for Singapore to possess that but it has not set Singapore behind
or in any way inferior to nations. Singapore's nation building was a process of
adapting to the times and rising to the challenges of the modern world. Perhaps
objective definition of a nation is not applicable to Singapore but rather, it
requires a subjective and psychological one.
Singapore has achieved
certain items on the checklist: according to Gellner, nationalism engenders
nations. Also she has a well defined territory, community occupied homeland,
public culture, single economy etc. but times are changing and trying to achieve
the traditional items on the checklist of being a nation may not neccessarily be
the optimal solution for nation building in an increasingly globally connected
world given its ever changing nature in social, political, economic and cultural
contexts.The goals of the two are ultimately different, and I agree with PM
Lee's notion that the aim of nation building is not tracing how connected
people's origins are but how well they can be brought together.