The Singapore formula for ethnic harmony

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It is diabolically simple – just don’t talk about it. When you don’t raise race issues, they won’t surface, and everyone is none the wiser, and Confucius did say something to the effect of doing away with knowledge and grief consequentially not being known.

It makes me really upset to hear about the Police disallowing a Speakers’ Corner application to speak about the CAAS not having Tamil language signboards at Changi Airport (they have English, Chinese, Malay and Japanese ones).

I thought there was some liberalisation or something, and that the National Parks were in charge now, but apparently, it now seems if the Parks receive applications with keywords like “race”, “language” and “religion”, they refer them to the police to be disallowed.

When pressed, the CAAS, who, bless their hearts, are doing a fine job of running airports, but who need PR people desperately, apparently responded like this:

The CAAS replied last week that directional signboards were previously only in English. From April 2005, they were also in Chinese, Malay and Japanese, to cater to the large number of visitors speaking those languages.

As English was India’s second language, it was advised by the Singapore Tourism Board that English signs were sufficient.

Bravo, Singapore Tourism Board too. So English comes second, between Hindi and Tamil, issit?

I hear they’re changing the lines of the National Pledge:

...pledge ourselves as one united people who will not talk about race, language or religion… to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.



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7 thoughts on “The Singapore formula for ethnic harmony”

  1. i don't see any issue. what's the big deal? India is a pretty large country, they have a pretty diverse language culture as well. So if we do put tamil on the signs, it does not mean all indians will understand them. It definitely makes more sense to use english. Plus, you have to imagine the size of the signboards if we are to include every single language/dialect. Also, if i remember correctly, i do remember seeing tamil signs in the airport, though not for every single facility.

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  3. Oh don't forget about NOT airing misconceptions and misunderstandings about race and religion because we can't talk about it. The pledge should at, “to bury our heads in the sand so that we think we don't have any race or religious frictions”.

  4. Oh don't forget about NOT airing misconceptions and misunderstandings about race and religion because we can't talk about it. The pledge should at, “to bury our heads in the sand so that we think we don't have any race or religious frictions”.

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