Racial What?

26Jul06

The Capitalist Infidel has been really tired of how Singapore keeps trying to force the concept of racial harmony down the throats of its people. The Capitalist Infidel is also tired of how brainwashed Singaporeans take such concepts in a textbook manner and repeat old war stories, which is the approach the administration here takes towards everything.
The administration here seems to think that they can brainwash everyone into their thinking and honestly speaking, they have good reason to. But racial harmony is not a set of rules you learn, or print behind every textbook to drill into the heads of schoolchildren. By forcing people into such matters, the administration could well be making things worse. And in any case, The Capitalist Infidel cannot accept such hypocritical practices.

All this is not because The Capitalist Infidel does not support the idea of different races living together but the fact that the direction of all this is wrong. Being a Liberal, The Capitalist Infidel firmly believes in embracing, or at least accepting differences between people. But forcing ideas into people is wrong and counterproductive.

Racial Harmony Day, an event in Singapore that is supposed to celebrate our differences is an excellent example of this. To be honest, The Capitalist Infidel does not really care about the race, religion or nationality of the people he interacts with every day and is effectively colour blind. There are many more people, Singaporeans included, just like that. Racial Harmony Day changes all that. It highlights the differences between us. It makes us remember that we are different. For what? The Capitalist Infidel feels that it is good enough we are all human. There is a reason we do not have Gender Harmony Day, such events point out differences that do not need to be pointed out and will end up polarising the different sides.

In any case, The Capitalist Infidel has reason to believe that the administration’s drive to achieve racial harmony is less than totally altruistic. The Capitalist Infidel has always been told about how we are surrounded by Muslim neighbours and are always in danger from their attacks. That doesn’t look like what say they want us to think. Add the well known fact that Singapore’s Armour (we don’t have tanks, just the miniature versions of it) divisions have no Muslims, and suddenly, a different picture emerges.

There is in fact a test case for whether Singapore truly believes that we should celebrate our differences and not doing it for more sinister reasons. The Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to bear arms, among other things, making them unable to serve in the armed forces, which all Singaporean men are forced to do. This has resulted in them being thrown in Detention Barracks, the military prison, all for their beliefs. It is not as if they could not be allowed to serve in the Civil Defence, the administration just seems to want to punish those whose views are different from it. The Racial Harmony drive is a sham!

And things like that do not happen just in the armed forces. After the September 11th attacks, Singapore started having people check the bags of people entering the Mass Rapid Transit(MRT), Singapore’s version of the subway. I was once approached by one of the guards who apologised while she was going through my bag, telling me that they had to check the bags of non-Malays sometimes so that the Malays will not get upset over it. While I appreciated the fact that people had their bags checked for security in times like that, I was appalled by such statements. I saw just how easy it was to walk right past them with a bomb(which really wasn’t hard anyway, the checks were random and few people got checked). Not just that. Racism could rear its ugly head so easily in Singapore, land of propaganda.

This shows how important it is to get the fundamentals right. We need to teach our children the importance and the significance of Liberty. That we need to accept each other’s differences and embrace the fact that we are all human. Liberty is what holds a country up in the end. Not propaganda.

This article was first published in The Capitalist Infidel’s blog

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4 Responses to “Racial What?”

  1. 1 akshay

    though i’m a foreigner in singapore and i dont think i have any right or auhtority to talk about race relations here…i quite agree with you. i think people in singapore are made too concious about their differences. no one ive spoken to has given me a satisfying explanation yet as to why they have to mention everyone’s race on their ICs…

    when i first came to singapore i was very fascinated by how everyone was living peacefully and that no one gets in anyone’s way. but as i looked more closely i realised that people are in a way apprehensive to interact with people of other races (i could be wrong). i was quite appalled to see such few students from the minority communities in my univeristy and that even they almost always just stuck to their own kind.

    here’s an interesting observation made by an american exhcange student (whom i knew personally) who was here in singapore just last sem..
    http://asif2008.blogspot.com/2006/06/race-relations-in-singapore.html

  2. 2 akshay

    at the same time, its quite admirable how strict the singapore government is against racist people…
    there have been quite a few incidents of racist comments on blogs and stuff and even though i am all for freedom of speech on the internet, i guess the way the Sg govt. dealt with those ppl shows its strong commitment to preserving racial harmony.

  3. Problem is, shutting people up may exacerbate the very problems they are trying to stop. Clamping down on the racist blogger made Malays look like oversensitive people and prevented open debate about such things.

    People should be expected to stand up for their friends of other races in cases like that, since racist views are very ahrd to defend, not have governments clamping down on them, which may have unintended consequences.

  4. By the way, I just read the blog link you gave me. That’s really good insight. Thanks for showing that to me. Let me see things from a new angle.


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