Forum: Natural for Chinese Singaporeans to have affinity for China

Two recent articles in The Straits Times reported on China's growing influence in Singapore (S'pore second most influenced by China, says new report, April 27; and Negotiating clashing Chinese, Singaporean identities amid China's growing influence, May 2).

I find, however, former diplomat Bilahari Kausikan's warning that favourable views held by Chinese Singaporeans towards China "can undermine the multiracial and multicultural character of Singapore, and stress our social cohesion" to be an overreaction.

I believe most Singaporeans are well-informed enough to understand that China has achieved much in the last few decades and its policies and actions have far-reaching consequences and implications for all nations, including Singapore.

It seems natural for Chinese Singaporeans to have some special affinity for China because of racial and cultural closeness. In addition, most Chinese Singaporeans will have some emotional attachment to China since their ancestors came from there.

In my view, based on more than 12 years of living and working in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Chinese Singaporeans are more Westernised and have the lowest degree of "Chinese-ness".

A fairly sizeable proportion of Chinese Singaporeans are quite unfamiliar with Chinese history, traditions and culture. Some cannot speak the Chinese language or any Chinese dialect effectively.

Yet most Chinese Singaporeans, like their non-Chinese fellow Singaporeans, are watching the rise of China with keen interest in the hope that Singapore will benefit from this rise.

In this process, I am confident that all Singaporeans will continue to retain their cherished values of multiracialism, multiculturalism, multi-religiousness and multi-lingualism.

Ang Ah Lay

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.