My reflections on this year’s National Day, first published on YouSayISayWhoConfirm.SG as a joint post with mrbrown’s National Day Song.
I used to think that I was Singaporean because of the way I spoke and how I could code-switch from standard English to Singlish even within a sentence. I used to think it was because I could understand why people would use packets of tissue, newspapers and umbrellas to “chope” seats at hawker centres when all it takes is a rule where you’re not allowed to sit at a table if you don’t have a tray of food with you.
But the fabric of society is changing. Close to 40% of the country’s population is non-Singaporean, and I think a sizeable chunk of Singapore citizens are made up of new migrants. You know those “emerging fault lines” the PM keeps talking about? They’re here, and they’re pretty disruptive.
Suddenly we have many Singaporeans we don’t feel the bond of kinship with. More than once I read on Twitter and Facebook that people or their parents didn’t feel proud that a “China-born” table-tennis player won another medal for Singapore. I’ve seen young people tweet things like “Argh! This bus is full of Pinoys!” without stopping to think for once whether what they were saying was racist.
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