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How Do Singapore Citizens Become “Singaporeans?

1449 words - 6 pages

Singapore citizens
According to The Singapore Department of Statistics, the population of Singapore in the middle of 2008 is 4.839 million, of which 3.642 million are Singapore residents. Among the 3.642 million residents, 3.164 million are Singapore citizens while the rest are Singapore permanent residents. “Singapore citizens” in this essay follows the official definition, does not refer to all Singapore residents, i.e. not include permanent residents.

Singapore is a multi-racial state where different ethnic groups can live together without strife. Different Chinese ethnic groups form 75.2% of Singapore’s residents, Malays form 13.6%, Indians form 8.8%, Eurasians and other ...view middle of the document...

It was introduced to alleviate the conflicts and disparities between different races in plural society, leading to harmony. It has been introducing in Singapore for decades and achieved success.

In a multiracial society, it is expected that the “same” ethnic group is much more ethnically conscious than in a society with a “non-racial” ideology. (Geoffrey Benjamin, 1976) It is true in Singapore because Singaporeans tend to show concern for visitors of the same ethnic group e.g. Hong Kong (Chinese), India (Indian), Indonesia (Indonesian), etc. And they normally want to know one’s race before other personal information, for example, age, class, etc.

According to Dr. Geoffrey Benjamin, “Singapore culture” refers to normally not to any new Singaporean synthesis or innovation but simply to an agglomerate formed of the separate Chinese, Malay, Indian and European cultural traditions. Each culture remains unchanged and unmerged with the others. (Geoffrey Benjamin, 1976) In this way, Singaporean identity at the personal level will depend largely on the extent to which the individual is able to claim membership of one of the four races (Chinese, Malaysian, Indian and Eurasian). Although the Singapore government attempts to develop a unique Singapore culture that is one and unified, it also stresses the separate-but-equal status of each culture. Hence, Singapore’s multiracialism actually puts more pressure on Singapore citizens to become more like their ethnic groups in their behaviour.

National Identity
National identity is usually identified in cultural or political terms. But in Singapore, it is identified in economic terms. Singapore set aside issues of religion and culture that were likely to divide its people and focused on secular education as the basis for nation-building. (Wang Gungwu, 1998) It had to be assured that none of the cultures in Singapore would be diminished and at the same time modernization can be carried out without blinding following the West. The solution was to concentrate on economic progress and wealth-making for all citizens. And Singapore government did successfully in economics. Singaporeans can rely on the Government’s decision-making and policies. Pragmatism was the government’s emphasis. Singaporeans are pragmatic. They concern more about bread-and-butter issues rather than politics. Many students choose their major study for theirs career prospects rather than out of academic interest. (

The official languages in Singapore recognized by the Government are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Bilingualism is introduced in Singapore. English is the first language and medium of instruction in schools. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew mentioned that using English as a common language in Singapore could connect Singapore citizens of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. In this way, different races are not...

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