Excerpts from readers' letters

LOOK CHINESE, THINK SINGAPOREAN

I found the letters by The Straits Times' Yuen Sin and Lianhe Zaobao's Ng Wai Mun interesting (SAP schools: Time for rethink?, Feb 13; Looking at China from afar, Feb 14; Being Chinese in multi-racial S'pore, Feb 15).

I think every Singaporean Chinese is a mix of three attributes that change depending on the situation.

We celebrate Chinese New Year because we are the descendants of an old civilisation. Our looks and surnames affirm this fact.

We speak English predominantly because of our colonial history, and this has led us into fields such as commerce, science and technology.

We wave the Singapore flag and sing our National Anthem with gusto on Aug 9 every year to celebrate our nation.

Thus, like a chameleon, we adapt to the situation at hand, which may sometimes cause one attribute to come to the fore more than others. But to emphasise one attribute and exclude the rest will make one seem strange, and may even be dangerous to Singapore's harmony.

We should therefore not speak only English and act smug against our own. It would be just as insensitive to speak Singlish in an international setting. Also, regardless of the growing Chinese diaspora, we should not compromise our national interests.

As Singaporean Chinese, we should be comfortable about looking Chinese, speaking English and thinking Singaporean.

Lee Teck Chuan


SHOCKED BY BEVERAGE PRICE HIKE

I was appalled that even before the Budget speech by Finance Minister Heng Swee Kiat, the price of tea and coffee had been raised unilaterally by a number of hawkers and kopitiam outlets all over the island.

What used to cost me $1 for a cuppa at Ghim Moh Food Centre and the Joo Chiat Place-Everitt Road kopitiam is now $1.10.

I have been informed that the 10-cent increase has been replicated elsewhere too. It smacks of collusion among beverage operators. I hope the relevant authorities will look into this matter urgently and address this situation.

Munir Shah


BE GRACIOUS ON PAVEMENTS

My ageing mother-in-law tries to walk to the supermarket to buy groceries instead of driving, to keep fit and reduce pollution.

However, she has been having second thoughts due to the increased number of personal mobility devices (PMDs) on the pavements these days. She now moves hurriedly onto the grass verge as they whizz past, which can be unsafe for her as she uses a walking aid and the ground is sometimes uneven or muddy and slippery. While PMDs are convenient and a relatively greener way to get around, more measures are needed to help integrate PMD users and pedestrians.

The pavements are a common area that we all share, whether as pedestrians or PMD users. Let us adopt a more gracious mindset so that we can all travel comfortably.

Adam Reutens-Tan


SHARE HISTORICAL TALES OF BUILDING

I share the hope of Cultural Medallion recipient Angela Liong that the lovely, historical building at 126 Cairnhill Road will be conserved (Bid to conserve 'oasis' in a buzzing city; Feb 19).

The symbiosis of styles seen in its architectural features, including its columns, upturned eaves and central open courtyard, is charming and also reflects the building's original function - to provide an English education to local citizens in Singapore.

My late father Ong Soon Pew was one such student. He told me interesting facts about the school, such as how the little building at the foot of the staircase going up the hillock was either a tuck shop or an assembly hall.

He spoke of the strict discipline imposed on latecomers - how they were forbidden to use those stairs to go to the classroom building and would have to walk around the whole hillock to enter through the school's main gate in Cairnhill Rise.

But their entry depended on the charity of the schoolmaster teaching the class on the ground floor.

Students were also severely punished for dirty shoes, even though this may have been due to the long walk around the hillock.

I am sure there are many octogenarians and nonagenarians who studied there and have similar tales about their school life. These stories can breathe new life into this building, and strengthen the case against its demolition.

Ong Hui Lin (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2018, with the headline 'Excerpts from readers' letters'. Print Edition | Subscribe