GE Daily Roundup: Tuesday 18 August

National Identity Being Eroded By Ethnic Diversity, Says Independent Candidate (Erode Your Head Lah, Says This Singaporean)

Independent candidate Tan Lam Siong, also known as the guy causing a 3-corner fight in Potong Pasir SMC, has some thoughts on national identity. They might make you cry, but probably for all the wrong reasons. He thinks that the increasing number of ethnic communities in Singapore is “eroding our national identity.”


I’m sorry, did we miss the national identity crisis memo? Do we have one in the first place? Aren’t we still exploring and forming our national identity? Apparently not, according to Tan Lam Siong; it’s set in stone. Tough luck if you’re not on his approved ethnicity list.

His searing, insightful analysis of the state of our national identity … is that we have an increasing number of ethnic communities in Singapore. He then makes an awful, awkward food-related analogy about how all these new ethnic communities (read: foreigners) are like new ingredients added to a pot of food, which makes it unfamiliar and thus not tasty. Because you know, New Things Are Always Bad For You. I guess no one ever told him about the origins of Hainanese curry rice.

Can someone please tell him that even within the trusty, Tan Lam Siong-approved ethnic ingredients, there are several “ethnic communities”? Who, incidentally, are only here because their forefathers were “new ethnic communities” seeking a better life in Singapore a few generations ago.

Tell me again: why is this man allowed to run for office?

One of the things that I have always found most endearing about this country – and why I care about it – is that we are made of many, many peoples, and we have made this a strength rather than a weakness or a divisive factor. The blood from many shores runs through our veins, but we have a common goal: to make this country work, and work better than before: to make it the best possible Singapore that it can be. Are race relations still a work in progress? Yes. Will we get there someday? I believe we will.

However, the kind of narrow-minded bigotry that his statement revealed has no place in this better, more human version of my country.

Pick anyone from the Eurasian community in Singapore, and you’ll find a mind-boggling number of “ethnic communities” lurking in their DNA. Did we contribute negatively to the social fabric of Singapore, too? Or are we on his approved list of ethnicities simply because we were here longer than the new arrivals he takes issue with?

I’m not offended by his statement, as cringe-worthy as it was. I feel sorry for him, because if he honestly believes that more ethnic diversity is a bad thing, then he must have a very small, sterile, fearful view of the world. That is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.


Akan Datang in Tomorrow’s Daily GE Roundup: Dialogue! Debate! Durians!

The NUSS Political Dialogue for GE 2015 — featuring all 10 of Singapore’s political parties — is happening right now, so catch the highlights in your Daily GE Roundup tomorrow.

P.S.: I was bluffing about the durians. Sorry.




About the author

Samantha De Silva

Samantha De Silva develops and conducts courses in communication skills and also run writing workshops and mentorships. When she’s not doing this, she creates content, copy-edit and proofread for corporate, academic and creative projects. She also works on fun things like script analysis, writing for film and fiction projects and has been a contributing writer and voice talent on the satirical podcast, the mrbrown show, since 2008.

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