It is all well and good for our outspoken former Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bilahari Kausikan to wax lyrical about “China’s attempts to assert the Chinese identity on multiracial Singapore”. Before pointing the finger at another country, has Mr Kausikan stopped to consider our own country’s efforts and attempts to be more Chinese?

From the very beginning of Singapore as an independent country, the government’s policy was already pro Chinese. Let’s not forget that former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was once known as Harry Lee. He dropped it to connect with voters and to come across more “Chinese”.

China’s attempts to assert a Chinese identity on Singapore would not work if the groundwork was not already laid. Does the former diplomat remember the Speak Mandarin Campaign where we were all encouraged and cajoled into speaking Mandarin? 

I still remember the refrain of “hua ren hua yu” (Chinese people speak Mandarin) being repeated religiously. Who started aligning Singaporeans with the Chinese identity?

This campaign continues under auspices of Business China Singapore which was launched by former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

If Singapore really wants to foster its own identity, why do we still have a fixation with race? Why the need to spell out your ethnicity in all official documentation? Aren’t we all just Singaporean?

Further, why have members of the government alluded to the fact that we are not ready for a non Chinese Prime Minister? What about the tokenism of installing a non Chinese President under the guise of minority representation when it is the most powerless position as far as the existing power structure goes? Who is the one that is fanning the flames of racial hegemony over national identity?

Not being privy to the information that high ranking civil servants may have, I cannot ascertain the truth as to the Chinese agenda on the part of China. But I would like to point out that as much as China may have planned this, the powers that be in Singapore were also receptive to this.

How can Singaporeans be more wary of insidious intent from China if from the very beginning, the government was already (whether intentionally or otherwise) setting the foundation of a country that is aligned with China?

Kaukisan may have a point but his point does not present the full picture if it ignores the past policies of the government in which he served. Education can only go so far. Government foreign policy tweaks also have to go hand in hand.

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