"We have every right to celebrate our paddlers' success in the Olympics and they duly deserve it. But despite all the controversy surrounding the origins of our players, one cannot deny that it would have been a more empathic celebration if Singaporeans brought home the medal rather than Singapore citizens."Mark drew a distinction between being a Singapore citizen, and being Singaporean. He tried to say that citizenship is just a kind of formality, consisting of official paperwork and the issuance of a pink card. In contrast, a genuine Singaporean identity is something more profound, more important, and relates to a deeper sense of belonging:
ST Aug 19, 2008
Singaporeans and Singapore citizens: There's a big difference
IT IS time to put forth the argument that being a Singapore citizen is not the same as being Singaporean. One can be born here but one's heart is not. If the only thing linking someone who spends most of his life in another country to his birthplace is his relatives, then there is little meaning behind his national identity. People talk about 'true-blue' Singaporeans but are usually stumped for words when one asks them to define the term.
A feeling of identity is defined and nurtured by one's social affiliations, having immersed in its culture, history and people. I consider myself Singaporean for the following reasons:
- Having friends who suffered with me during national service.
- Having friends who struggled with me under the education system.
- Eating, celebrating, talking, learning, suffering, serving and being served by Singaporeans around me ....
I understand Mark's point, but I could not help but see some sad, unintended irony in his letter.
Mark gives three main reasons why he considers himself Singaporean. The first reason has something to do with "suffering". The second reason has something to do with "struggling". And the third reason, like the first, also has something to do with "suffering".
We might summarise as follows - the hallmarks of a Singaporean are suffering and struggle.
That sounds quite unappealing, to me at least. If Mark's definition is correct, then I would really prefer not to be a true Singaporean. Being a Singaporean citizen will be fine. By nature, I'm just not masochistic.