Should be Singaporeans all, regardless of who we vote for

I refer to the 3 Mar 2013 Straits Times letter by Ms Ng Yan Ling [1].

The phrase “founding of modern Singapore” leads to the question of what constitutes modern Singapore. Singapore in 1965 is no longer considered modern by today’s standards. Similarly, Singapore today will not be considered modern 50 years from now. Luckily, there is a general consensus amongst historians on what constitutes modern Singapore. Many historians refer to modern Singapore as Singapore post 1819 and the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]. Mr Lee Kuan Yew never founded Singapore modern or otherwise, he inherited Singapore from the British.

Dr Goh Keng Swee, Dr Toh Chin Chye and Mr Rajaratnam came to Singapore at a time when Singapore, Perak, Malacca and Seremban [8] were all part of British Malaya. We were all one and the same British family then unlike now where we belong to distinct nations with distinct allegiances. That’s why migrations didn’t constitute as much an identity crisis then as it does now.

Furthermore Dr Goh Keng Swee came to Singapore in 1920 when he was only two years old [9]. Dr Toh Chin Chye came to Singapore in 1939 at the age of 18 [10]. Mr Rajaratnam came to Singapore in 1934 at the age of 19 [11]. So although Dr Goh, Dr Toh and Mr Rajaratnam weren’t born here, they all came at a relatively young age and were gradually naturalised into Singapore over decades unlike today where citizenships are dished out in a year or even at the airport.

While it is Ms Ng’s noble belief that our forefathers came to build a democratic society for the happiness and progress of our nation, the reality was that many came simply to better their own lives just as many do today. Furthermore if democracy, justice and equality are to be the corner stones of what it means to be Singaporean, how do we consider those who practise political discrimination, differential treatment of electorates based on voting outcomes and monopoly of news as Singaporeans?

[1] Straits Times, Singaporeans all, regardless of birthplace, 3 Mar 2013

[2] Stamford Raffles Founder of Modern Singapore, AsiaPac Books, Zhou Yimin (illustrator), Geraldine Goh (translator)

[3] A History of Modern Singapore, 1819-2005, Constance Mary Turnbull

[4] Iberians in the Singapore-Melaka Area and Adjacent Regions (16th to 18th Century), Peter Borschberg, page 96
the present chapter will once again cast a critical eye on the maritime routes plied prior to the founding of modern Singapore in 1819

[5] Singapore in Global History, Derek Heng and Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied, page 19
the raison d’etre for the founding of modern Singapore in 1819 and its development through the nineteenth century was the changing global trading milieu in which the port of this tiny island – specifically the modern mega-port along the Singapore River – was to play a major role.

[6] World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services, Robert Wedgeworth, page 777
The history of Singapore libraries began soon after the founding of modern Singapore by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 as a trading post of the East India Company.

[7] The Business of Politics and Ethnicity: A History of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sikko Visscher, page 301
There were 140 years of modern Singapore history before the PAP came to power

[8] The Singapore Lion: A Biography of S. Rajaratnam, Irene Ng, page 4
His mother, Annammah, had taken the precaution of giving birth to Raja in Jaffna because of her traumatic experience at the hospital in the rubber estate a few years earlier.
At the age of six months, his mother brought him to join his father in Seremban, Malaya.
In other words, Rajaratnam essentially hailed from Seremban and Jaffna was purely for the purpose of giving birth.

Born into a middle-income Peranakan family in Malacca, he came to Singapore when he was two years old.

[10] The Short Stories and Radio Plays of S. Rajaratnam, page xxxii
At the age of nineteen in 1934, he came to Singapore to study at Raffles Institution.

[11] Straits Times, 4 Feb 2012, Remembering Toh Chin Chye: 1921 – 2012
Born in Taiping, Malaysia, the son of a bicycle shop owner came to Singapore in 1939 after he was awarded a scholarship to Raffles College.


One Response to “Should be Singaporeans all, regardless of who we vote for”

  1. JeffGoh Says:

    Thank You for setting the records straight

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