Monday, May 02, 2005

Social: Being Equal and Being Identical

I read with great dismay about how a condominium management and residents opted to have non-Indian security guards. What really disgusts me is that how openly they can actually demonstrate their prejudice. Perhaps its just a spillover of the racism bottled within the Singapore society.

I am a minority by race, language and religion in this country and till today almost everyday I feel I am like a nigger in a white man's society being subject to all kinds of prejudice. But when i take a closer look I find that the racism that envelopes this Singaporean society is not just about ethnicity whereby the majority ethnic groups discriminate the minority ethnic groups. Instead I have come across numerous friends who are Chinese but Pernakan in heritage or mixed in parentage or English speaking etc and hence they face prejudice and discrimination for being that slightly different.

I believe I can sum up the racism in Singapore to be that where one is discriminated when he/she is not fitting the "mould" or "norm". This is partly thanks to the great effort that is being to put to ensure everyone is identical. This in turn stems from the flawed belief that if we, a multiracial society, can be identical in outlook and nature then we can live in harmony and avert racial problems. Even identical twins are not exactly identical because they differ in character, tastes, etc etc. Hence it is not possible for two humans to be identical. Instead humans are a diverse creation. They differ in numerous ways. However they are equal. Where one person is advantaged over another person in something, he/she will be disadvantaged over the other person in another thing. This is the reality of creation of Mankind.

Though the Singapore society's ends to achieve racial harmony is valid and respectable, its means by making sure everyone is identical is fundamentally and logically flawed.

Instead the appropriate means to adopt is making everyone equal. As mentioned before the very characteristic of Mankind being diverse makes it impossible for us to be uniform or identical. But since we are created equal, we can very well continue to pursue that equality. Critics will naively argue we cannot be equal or we are not equal. This is because they naively understand what equality means. When economists talk about income equality in society, neo-classicals and conservatives will cynically dismiss it without understanding what the economists imply. They dont imply that each individual end up having $X. Instead they imply that the income inequalities be marginal and insignificant.

Likewise when I say we should pursue equality instead of making everyone identical, I imply that we need to work to make inequalities marginal and insignificant. Liberal, Neo-Con, Neo-Classical and Right Wing Conservatives in our society will however continue to pursue making everyone in our mulit cultural multi racial, religiously diverse Singapore identical and indeed that is a self fulfilling prophecy. Indeed diversity is an asset to a society and not a liability. A society that is uniform in nature hardly develops a strong growth path. Worse still, a society like Singapore that has strong sense of diversity cannot really hope to see these strong traits of diversity disappear through superficial sense of uniformization in attire, physical outlook etc.

It has been about 180 years since the Chinese, Indians and Eurasians migrated to this then Malay country. After 180 years of having lived together as one nation, if Singapore is still unable to embrace its diversity, then most definitely it has not grown out of its colonial era where the British intentionally promoted ethnic division. Today our real and risk-less asset that Singapore has is its diverse people. Even its huge financial asset is risky. Therefore it is only prudent to invest in the people by striving for equality and give up trying to make everyone identical.


Post a Comment

<< Home