This has been simmering in my mind for some time already….
Two weeks ago, I went to the Goldkist chalet resort at East Coast for Cheak Hong Ian’s 21st birthday party (and it was my first time there since the horrible car-scratch with the white van during Alex’s 21st birthday party).
And on the porches of the dinghy chalet, I had the most interesting conversation in months with my ex-classmates. One of us, Jacqueline, would be going to Shanghai for six months from January for a study-and-intern program. The conversation that followed gave me interesting insights on how Singaporean Chinese view their distant cousins from the Chinese motherland.
It seems to me that PRCs must be the most hated group of people in varsities. Monday morning lessons are “ah-tiong times”, front rows at lecture halls are occupied by “them”, post-lecture consultations with profs are basically requests to translate, profs are biased towards Ah-tiongs when giving out A-pluses…
I voiced that such labels were merely stereotypes, but was swiftly rebutted. They are apparently true observations of what’s really happening.
The stereotyping does venture into the nasty. The girls don’t shave their armpits, the guys are secret pervs…..and the list goes on and on. I think the only positive comment I heard was that the PRCs are genuinely patriotic of their nation; Xinyan recollected how one of them proclaimed to the class that his beloved nation was celebrating its 60th anniversary today (to the very loud cheers), and that they watch the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony for leisure. I’m not even sure if that qualifies as a praise.
I quote “it’s good that they love their country so much, so that they won’t stay here”.
The conversation moved moved on to China itself, as Jacq was going to spend 6 months there. Apparently Facebook is banned, MSN is banned, Google rarely works. The netizens there must be using their own private network or something. Luckily for Jacq, a lifeline existed in the form of a VPN to the NTU network.
(I wonder how many notifications you would get if you took a 6 month break from Facebook. hahahah)
In China, you can’t eat their Char Siew Pau (apparently it is mostly made out of cardboard) nor drink their milk (remember Melamine anybody?) nor eat their pork (swine flu is still alive). The only food safe to eat would be (if you are lucky) bear paw, tiger tail, monkey brain and other exotic dishes found only in China.
And so on and so forth..
I never really thought about Ah-Tiongs until JC days, when the teachers would lavish praise on some bloody Chinaman who could still score for his GP even though he barely spoke a word of English. (I am still quite sore over this. hahaha)
I think the Chinamen are going to take over this country. All ranks of society have been infiltrated, from the elite scholars to the lowest economic strata like toilet cleaners and coffee shop assistants. It seems the top PSLE and O Level students have been PRCs for many years consecutively now. Even our top sportswomen are effectively imports.
Personally, I suspect its all part of Harry’s plan to maintain the racial quota in Singapore. Since local Chinese can’t produce enough, he is importing from China. China probably doesn’t give a damn about losing a million of its scholars or workers, they’ve got a billion people.
At the current rates of reproduction, the Malays will become the biggest racial group. (PAP would lose, Mahatir would be a hero and Lee Kuan Yew would see his empire crumble, but thats another story for another day).
Being a Tamil Muslim, its doesn’t really matter which race calls the shots, I would still be a minority.
What I am really worried about is when these Ah-Tiongs here speak Chinese to me, and expect me to do to the same. And unless you are blind, you wouldn’t expect me to speak Chinese right?
When I go to the Ban-Mian shop, the shop keeper refuses to learn English, even after 5 years. She says “Why should I learn, when everyone can speak Chinese in Singapore?” And her shop is in halal foodcourt, where the majority of customers are Malay.
This arrogance infuriates me greatly.
It is not their lack of language skills, but rather the attitude that makes my blood boil.
I have experienced many many situations where Singaporean speak Chinese around me and leave me to attempt my own translations. But, 99% of the time, they do translate for me in the end. I have grown accustomed to it, and see it as an unavoidable cost. But at least the majority of locals are courteous enough to offer a translation. I truly appreciate their efforts, and I think thats what makes us Singaporean.
I suspect that Chinamen think Singapore belongs to their motherland, like Taiwan. Thats why when Harry spoke his mind at the White House, there were angry comments from Chinese netizens.
China’s meteoric rise has made its citizens proud. From what I observe and infer, they believe that China’s domination of the world is inevitable and Chinese-majority Singapore should be its vassal.
During my trip to Beijing and with my own experiences with PRCs here, I find that the Ah-Tiongs will always see me (or Tamils) as aliens, or just someone from another planet. When we talk, its at arms length. Language is a great barrier to making friends, but I feel that there is a greater sense of “you” and “me”.
When I went to Beijing in 2002, practically on one believed that the six Tamils in my group were from Singapore as well. Both the Beijing University students and even our tour guides would respond with a “really??”. Even now, in school, other PRCs can still have the cheek to ask me “so when did you migrate over from India?”
So is there hope?
Jared Diamond says humans are determined by their environments. I subscribe to this theory, and say that we should take in only babies from China, so that we can indoctrinate them from birth.