Sunday, 21 August 2016

Confirmed: NO Chinese Privilege in Singapore (Part 2)

Read Part 1: “No Chinese Privilege in Singapore” found here.
Over the past 2 years after the Post, the concept of “Chinese Privilege” has found its way into mainstream public discussion Forums on race relations.  Also, one website even dedicated itself on the subject and has been making money from Subscribers who actually paid to rant and share alleged personal stories of racial discrimination as evidence of “Chinese Privilege”. 


The most damning conclusive and condemnatory evidence against the advocates and proponents of majority “Chinese Privilege” was published this week by a Channel NewsAsia-Institute of Policy Studies (CNA-IPS) survey on race relations.  

The Key Findings are:

[1] 73% Singaporeans does not believe that a person’s race is “very important” in influencing his or her success;

[2] 89% Singaporeans agreed that a person who works hard has an equal opportunity to become rich, irrespective of his/her race’

[3] 90% Singaporeans stated that they liked talking to people of all races and lived in peace with everyone;

[4] 90% Singaporeans endorsed elements of “multiculturalism” such as according respect, equality and value of other races;

[5] Nearly 70% Chinese Singaporeans were amenable to social interaction across racial boundaries.  They were open to inviting Indians and Malays to their house for meals, and allowing them to play with their children and grandchildren.

One of the Report’s conclusions is that the Survey found “a strong endorsement that success in Singapore is meritocratic”.

The CNA-IPS is one of the largest surveys on race relations in Singapore by polling 2,000 Singapore citizens and permanent residents aged 21 and above.

Meritocracy is the Bridge to a racially and socially just and equal Singapore irrespective of ethnicity, language and cultural heritage.

About 51 years ago, Singapore’s Founding Fathers in their far-sighted wisdom had instituted “Meritocracy” as the core operating principle governing access to all the key routes and mechanism of social mobility.  The overall achievements of minority groups vis-à-vis the majority Chinese clearly attest to the success of this enduring leadership initiative.  The CNA-IPS Survey confirms this FACT.  

The CNA-IPS Survey disappoints the advocates and proponents of Chinese “Majority Privilege” who have simply based their construction of non-existent “Chinese Privileges” by virtue of the Chinese’s 75% numerical majority in the population, along with 17% Malays, 7% Indians and less than 5% Eurasian and other ethnic groups.

Truth in Singapore is, Chinese “Majority” advantage did not translate and be reinforced and institutionalized to the extent as to obstruct, discriminate and prevent minority Malay, Indian and Eurasian and other ethnic groups from enjoying EQUAL access to the MEANS of social mobility eg education, medical, housing, religious practice, security, law, order, justice and public amenities like MRT, bus, cars …etc.

Irrespective to whatever extent anyone wishes to construct whichever surreal “Chinese Privilege”, whether perceived real by the occasional experience or conceived mostly in their imagination, it is clear that such “Chinese Privilege” has failed to become entrenched in Singapore society to any material or significant degree.    


According to credible Social Science research literature on the subject, for the concept of “Chinese Privilege” to have any operational validity, the following must be true:

[1] “Chinese Privileges” exist ONLY for BEING CHINESE, and are AUTOMATIC and NATURAL Benefits for the Chinese;

[2] REAL and SPECIAL Chinese ADVANTAGES are packaged as “RIGHTS, ENTITLEMENTs and IMMUNITIES” granted to or enjoyed by the Chinese BEYOND the COMMON ADVANTAGES of all other Races;

[3] Chinese Singaporeans enjoy SPECIAL RIGHT or IMMUNITY Attached To Them in ALL Social Relations;

[4] FACT-BASED Evidence of ANY Social Expressions of “Privilege” by Chinese Singaporeans expecting to be exceptionally deferred or regarded other than being EQUALLY treated as their fellow Malays, Indians, Eurasians and Malays Singaporeans.

It is clear that Singapore does not satisfy ANY of the above conditions for the de facto existence of “Chinese Privilege”.

Their existence would in fact have critically prevented the effective and successful operation of Meritocracy as the mediating medium of a just and equal multiracial multicultural society.  The CNA-IPS Survey indirectly dismiss any existential ”Chinese Privilege”.


The lesson from Apartheid South Africa or pre-Independence Rhodesia is that the mere numerical majority of a race does not automatically confer “Privilege”. To move from "majority" to "privileged", the majority race should be granted special benefits, advantages and immunities to the exclusion and disadvantages of the minority races by virtue of solely the "racial" criteria.  Like in Malaysia.

Interestingly, if one were to substitute the term “Chinese Privilege” in the above 4 Conditions with “Malay Privilege” as in Malaysia” or “White Privilege” as in the United States (US), the contrast is stark and would demolish and dispel any notion of the existence of “Chinese Privilege” in Singapore.

The importation of the concept of “majority privilege” from the US context is simply bad scholarship and the wrongful application of an appropriate social science concept applicable ONLY in the US context.  Another of myPosts on this here:

The continual use of the false and fictional concept of “Chinese Privilege” in Singapore will not enrich honest ongoing conversations that would enhance racial harmony and cohesion in Singapore.


Racial harmony and integration in Singapore remains very much a work in progress. Much more is needed to increase and sustain our lead in our Race Against Racism before we dare to declare, without hesitation, “regardless of race, language or religion” in all that we think or do as one people and one nation.

As Singapore strives to continue our racial harmony and shared economic prosperity in the next 15 and 50 years, we need to take stock and ponder whether we have effectively forged a strong enough bond that can withstand any threat to our social communal canvas.  Do we have Racial Harmony or merely Peaceful Co-Existence?  Time will tell.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Olympics 2016 - Schooling is "One of Us" and a "True Son of Singapore".

Singapore’s First Olympic Gold – Going Back to School with Schooling

Joseph Schooling, a teen Singaporean with multiple ethnic heritage personifying the best of the country’s multi-cultural demography, has captured singular glory and distinction for his country, who is incidentally celebrating our 51st Birthday, with the country’s First Olympic Gold Medal at the 100m Butterfly Swimming Event at the Rio Olympics. He has also bested his idol the 22-Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps into 2nd place shared with 2 other competitors by over half a second.

Singapore’s first Olympic Medal was won in 1960 by Tan Howe Liang who won the Silver Medal in the Weighting (Lightweight Category) in Rome, Italy. To date, athletes from Singapore have won a total of 5 medals at the Olympics including Schooling’s Gold.  The other Silver and 2 Bronze Medals came from Table Tennis, respectively from the 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London) Olympics.  

Schooling’s Gold Olympic Medal and Howe Liang’s Silver Medal struck at Singaporean national pride in a much more radically fundamental way – both of them are home-grown original Singaporean athletes.  

The other Singapore Olympic Medalists - Li Jiawei, Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu – were formerly from China who adopted Singapore as their home country and thus became eligible to represent Singapore at the Olympics.  For the record, Singaporeans have happily welcomed them as fellow Singaporeans and proud that they ended our Olympic medal drought in 2008.    

Joseph Schooling is “One of Us” – a 3rd generation Eurasian Singaporean who is “a true son of Singapore” to quote his Father, Colin, in The Sunday Times.  Joseph studied in Singapore’s top Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) for 8 years before going to the United States to pursue his swimming passion and studies.

Schooling’s Olympic Gold Medal achievement will revive debates as to whether we as a nation have done enough to consciously groom and develop local athletes. The same debates will also debunk our narrow obsession with academic excellence as the ONLY definition of human talent deserving of social investments and cultivation.

Gold Olympian Schooling did not have the benefit of the massive investments, to the tune of several thousands of S$$, that went to the National Table Tennis players who have very, very few homegrown Singaporeans.  Singapore has paid beyond money, coaches and amenities to include our valuable and prestigious Citizenships in the desperate attempts by sports officials to ignore local talent development in favour of the easier method of buying ready foreign ping-pong talent to represent Singapore.        

In ACS, Schooling benefitted from his School’s objective “to nurture all-round development and help students achieve their potential outside the academic field”.  Another top elite school, RI, had 20 years ago decided to drop soccer from their list of games and co-curricular activities (CCA) because she had not been the soccer champion over the preceding years despite repeatedly producing the nation’s top students.  Wonder what happened to the lesson “Don’t Quit” in their development of youth for leadership! 

In ACS, the School Motto is “The Best is Yet to Be”.  In 2012, Schooling finished badly, actually last, in Heat 5 of the 200m Butterfly Swimming event after Olympic Officials objected unfairly to his cap and goggles. He returned dejected and disappointed, but determined to go at it again by focusing on the 100m.  His story is now Singapore’s history.  Would he have been so encouraged if he were in RI instead of ACS?    

As Singapore prepares herself to celebrate Schooling’s Olympian Gold Honour for Singapore, we should not forget the many Singaporean athletes who could have brought Singapore earlier to the Olympic Gold Medal if only they had been carefully nurtured, adequately funded and provided with the sports eco-system and infrastructure to grow into the stature of Olympian qualifiers, like we did for the National Table Tennis Team.

Athletic and all human talent development begin when young in schools. The wise adage “if you want life-guards, first develop swimmers” is so true. 

Singapore can certainly afford to buy all the 2016 Olympic Gold and Silver Medalists, offer them “special” Singapore “Dual”-Citizenships; and I am sure there would be even more Gold Medals and “Majullah Singapura” refrains in the 2020 Olympics when they represent Singapore in Tokyo. This approach would certainly be meaningless and the accolades short-lived, as they provide neither impetus nor emulation model for the younger generations of Singaporeans.  Again, we will be wasting our money and resources just to ensure the career promotion of certain sports officials. 

From a helicopter’s view, there are the broader related issues of talent development in Singapore. Talent excellence must and should embrace to include as many forms of talent as possible, given Singapore’s only true asset being our human resource.    

Many Singaporeans are receiving accolades as they excel beyond our shores as musicians, actors, entertainers, bankers, commodity traders, business men and women, inventors, researchers, entrepreneurs, logisticians, engineers, management consultants and University Professors.  And then some.  Yet, they are very seldom recognized nor cited for emulation locally simply because they do not belong to the “Scholar” Elites.  Many Scholars however, having gravitated easily along pre-planned career paths, could succeed only within the protected environment of the Civil Service. Very few senior Scholar-Civil Servants are actually sought after by headhunters for the private sector. 

True talent is visible to all, and the impact of real talent is to add value to benefit others, especially to encourage their fellow countrymen and women, as well as the coming generations not only by bringing honour and glory to Singapore, but to propel her to ever greater heights of authentic excellence and achievements in many talent domains.

The Schooling lesson to our educators, talent developers, sports officers and political leaders is to go back to School for a re-imagination of our talentscape and to re-calibrate the limitless talent possibilities of our children and their grandchildren, so as to have more Schoolings for Singapore.