Hardware, Heartware and Headwear

The Facebook group “Love My Country Love My Hijab” is a discussion we’ve avoided for too long. It’s time we brought it out into the open and be bold but careful in declaring what our principles are as a nation.

It seems to me that we parade terms like “multiculturalism” and “racial harmony” while actually meaning “tolerating in spite of our differences”. It is time we recognised our differences and embrace them. Our ethnicity, beliefs and values want to be recognised because of what they are. It doesn’t matter if, as some people have put it, the hijab/tudung issue is a “recent phenomenon of Islamisation”.

It’s helpful to know that Sikhism was once considered a new religion, having been established in 1699. It is in the Sikh Reht Maryada that a Sikh is forbidden to cut his/her hair, and must wear hair unshorn. The conspicuous religious wearing of a turban has long been allowed in workplaces including that of military and civil services, as well as in exception to rules which govern the wearing of safety headgear in motoring.

At the very least, we should begin discussion about the tudung or hijab and the freedom to practice our beliefs.

There’s that R-word again

No, the other R-word. I don’t really care about Pastor Rony Tan and his idiocy – he’s of the same cloth, as far as I’m concerned, as the evangelical pastor in the U.S. who once made his point against migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds by famously declaring that “if English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!”

I’m referring to our nation’s obsession with race. I was rummaging through our personal documents last night because I was trying to get them organised for Kai’s first passport application.

On his birth certificate I saw something in Naomi’s details that made me chuckle and recall the little argument I had with the lady registering our details for Kai’s birth certificate.

On the column for Naomi’s “race” is printed “Japanese”. Which is alright I guess if you consider Japanese a “race”. The box next to that, “Dialect Group”, I had left blank when we filled out the form, and the lady clerk had pounced on the blank box with her pen and said, “you must fill in dialect group. What dialect group is your wife?”

She wouldn’t take “none” for an answer, and insisted that there had to be a dialect group for Naomi, whether she was Japanese or not. After around the 27th time I had said that I had no idea, the officious but helpful clerk looked at me like I was stupid and said, “ok, what language does she speak apart from Japanese? Japanese is her first language right? What else does she speak? Come on, I’m sure you know.”

And so, Kai’s birth certificate shows that his mother belongs to the “English Dialect Group” of the Japanese Race.

Female circum… whaaaaat?

I was shocked to learn from Naomi yesterday that female circumcision is practiced in Singapore. I had no idea.

You learn a lot from motherhood forums, where Naomi stumbled upon discussions on whether to circumcise, where to circumcise, how to do it and how much is done and how much is charged.

I’ve always thought that female circumcisions were only carried out in some tribes in Africa, and that there was never any religious basis for doing so.

Further googling the subject:

In Singapore’s small Muslim community, female circumcision involves nicking the prepuce, the skin covering the clitoris.

It is markedly different from the practices of some Muslim communities in Africa and the Middle East decried by human rights activists as female genital mutilation. In those cases, a young girl’s clitoris is clipped and burned. In a few communities, all the external genitals are cut off and the remnant tissue is sewn up to leave only a small opening.

Those practices originated 1,400 years ago, before the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, says Noor Aisha Binte Abdul Rahman, a professor at the National University of Singapore.

Singapore’s milder form is viewed as symbolic of this tradition.

But anyway, I’ve always known male circumcision to be ‘compulsory’ among Muslim males, and I’ve a story of a friend of mine who’s Muslim, but whose mother managed to hide him from the circumcisor’s (is that what they’re called?) scissors until he was about eight or ten years old, when he was found out by his mosque mates, presumably when they went to the loo together.

My friend was dragged kicking and screaming to the circumcision table and given the sunat. His mother, heartbroken and guilt-ridden by her only son’s wails and pleas, bought him an Apple computer to help soothe him as he recovered.

A few years ago this friend and I were talking about computers, and he was complaining that his laptop was on the blink. He couldn’t afford a new one at the time, and said that he thought about asking his mother for a loan, but decided against it eventually, because “I think my mother will sunat me again”.

The Singapore formula for ethnic harmony

National Parks Singapore - Weblinks
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

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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Victoria’s Secret for the dead

Victoria\'s Secret for the dead

Economic prospects shaky for the year? There’s hope for Malaysia, as Channelnewsasia.com reports that people there are buying sexy lingerie for the dead for Qing Ming.

“Most customers find them cute and would usually add a few sets to go with other paper clothing and items such as dresses, bags and shoes for their female family members to use in the other world,” she said.

The look this season? Sexy, racy and spooky.