Monday, October 24, 2011

Minorities in Singapore and history of ancient China

In their speeches to debate the President’s address, several Members of Parliament made reference to ancient history of China, and in particular to Emperor Tai Zong and his court official Wei Zheng. 

Chen Show Mao, Ellen Lee, Sam Tan and Baey Yam Keng made references to this in choosing to focus on drawing lessons from this Chinese emperor’s governance.

I would like to remind these legislators that Singapore is a multi-racial, multi-cultural society, and so dwelling too much on ancient China’s history would be to make too much of an assumption that everyone understands this history. 

What’s more important is, such over-emphasis may be construed as being insensitive to the other races that live with the majority here in Singapore – the Chinese. But then, how many Chinese Singaporeans know the ancient history of China?

People who hold public office should be mindful not to alienate the minorities in making references or drawing lessons from histories of other countries. It quite easy to forget the minorities who share the same space with the majority,

6 comments:

LEONG said...

Chinese History is part of Singapore cultural makeup. I don't see any harm in bringing out ancient Chinese history when speaking about the best of governance. I have no problem if legislators were to refer to Gandhi or Hang Tuah when talking about the good of the human race.
Or you prefer them to use western examples like the French Resolution? No?
If we have to be mindful of minorities' sensitivies even for the harmless Parliamentary debate then schools should do away with the learning of Asian (read Malay, Chinese Indian) History and Culture altogether.

23princessroad said...

"French Resolution"???? Hahaha...

JayF said...

But the ruling Li family of the Tang and the empire they founded were also very multi racial, at least by their standards.

The Li clan were of mixed birth and the first few generations maintained their links to their brethen in Central Asia and also brought over their relatively relaxed attitudes towards women, who were given unprecedented freedom during the less than Chinese Tang empire.

iki said...

History is for us to learn and plan for a better future. Tang Tai Chong was a brilliant emperor from whom many nations in today's world could learn on how to govern. Let's not make it into a racist issue. The same could be said about President Lincoln, Gandhi and many others great people in history. If anyone is not familiar with Tang Tai Chong, please go do some research before zero it into the sensitive area of racial harmony.

Shawshank said...

Anyone still remember histories of Demak Sultanate and LanFang Republic?

The said...

/// I would like to remind these legislators that Singapore is a multi-racial, multi-cultural society, and so dwelling too much on ancient China’s history would be to make too much of an assumption that everyone understands this history. ///

No worries. I am Chinese and I don't know much about ancient Chinese history. I can safely say that the vast majority of Chinese Singaporeans do not know as much ancient Chinese history as Chen Show Mao.