12 Aug 2003

National Day Parades

In Singapore the locals seem very keen to generate their own excitement around events that other countries tend to avoid. Or are they possibly trying to emulate that other nationalistic and patriotic country, known as the U. S. of A.

The speeches and images concentrated on the recent out-break of SARS and how Singapore has vanquished this un-seeable and deadly enemy.

For 38 years now the PAP has been trying engender a sense of Singaporean-ness within its loyal subjects. National identity is not something that is fixed and rigid but is fluid and changing so I imagine these national day parades will continue into the unforeseeable future. This attempt at creating a sense of nationalism is in direct contradiction to the more powerful social force of globalisation that has been shaping the Singaporean psyche for the last 20 years. American created pulp bombards Singaporeans. Pulp that is apolitical in nature, yet the underlying themes of shows such as 'Friends' have been quietly chipping away at prejudices and stereotypes in Singapore.

The Singaporean approach to globalisation seems rather chaotic and schizophrenic. They wish to remain as the middleman in business affairs. They continually strive to be the 'gate-way to the East'. But this is also undermining any ideas or values that may have been unique to Singapore and Singaporeans. Globalisation is for a large part accepted for its economic influence. What with the recent signing of a free trade agreement with America. That globalisation is also affecting Singaporeans aspirations are just recently beginning to be accepted. The Prime Minister saying that 'Gays' could hold a high position, (as if there are not gay individuals within parliament) within the government, seemed to cement the acceptance of globalisation altering the inhabitant’s expectations.

One unwelcome aspect (for the PAP), however that may be gaining ground are calls for freedom of speech and the right of individuals to criticise the government. A recently published article by two economists was quickly lambasted by the government. The two economists claimed that a disproportionate percentage of new jobs were being given to foreigners rather than Singaporeans. With the reaction of a hungry lion, the PAP released their statistics that showed that the situation was the reverse. And the two economists had to withdraw their claims. A process we are not privy to.

My point is that any first year research student can tell you that regarding statistics as 'fact' is a grave error of judgement. Especially OFFICIAL STATISTICS. When confronted by any form of statistic, the first thing you do is look at who commissioned them. Thereby illuminating any BIAS, or political agenda. Official statistics are not unbiased but on many instances are the products of propaganda or ideological lies.

SARS was a very nice distraction from the economic position of many Singaporeans. Images of George Bush and Iraq spring to mind. Are they possibly trying to emulate that other nationalistic and patriotic country's attempt at distracting their inhabitants from the growing inequality between those at the top end of the pay scale and those at the lower end?, known as the U. S. of A.Or is the USA trying to emulate this despotic regime?

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