Thursday, December 16, 2010

integration in singapore?

we have the two much publicized integrated resorts, one at sentosa and the other at marina bay. these two places are drawing the crowds from within and around the region. they seem to be doing very well as far as sucking making money is concerned. when it comes to businesses, it is easy to decide if there is integration or not. the main attraction may be the casino but as long as there are recreation facilities, high-end shopping, hotels and convention halls, they can qualify as an integrated resort.


over at my public housing estate, there is this integrated sports complex. actually, it is a sports complex-cum-community club. the sports facilities include swimming pools, a fitness gymnasium, basketball-cum-badminton courts, tennis courts and a street soccer pitch. there are also other sporting activities like roller blading, silat, taekwondo and qigong. from my balcony, i can watch the goings-on at the street soccer pitch. i have made some interesting observations.

i came across this report which says: "the findings show that public housing has succeeded in reducing the intensity of the ethnic enclaves while increasing social integration." i wonder how they arrive at the conclusion of 'increasing social integration'.

this is my findings based on my observations of the several groups that have played at the street soccer pitch. out of the 10 times, 8 times there was no racial mixing at all. the malay teenagers would play among themselves and the chinese would play among themselves. there was hardly any interaction between the two different groups. while one group played, the other group would wait passively for their turn. so far, i have not seen any group of indian youths playing soccer at the pitch.

some of these groups are students from the neighbourhood schools like fajar secondary, zhenghua secondary and greenridge secondary. even among the students, the situation is the same. what does that tell us about integration at school level?

out of the 2 times when i saw a mix of chinese and malay boys playing together, once it involved children of primary school going age. the other time, i was quite heartened to watch three chinese teenage boys playing with eleven malay boys. however, the three chinese boys were in the same team. one of them played in the position of the goalkeeper. the three of them were heard communicating in mandarin.

even organised groups - those that were attired in soccer jerseys and proper shorts - were also racially grouped. so far, all the organised groups that played at this pitch were malay children belonging to some clubs or those who have been trained by the same soccer coach, who invariably is a malay.

needless to say, the silat group comprises malay participants only and the qigong, chinese. as for roller blading and taekwondo, the majority of the members are chinese, with a sprinkling of indian members.

back in those kampong days, we sometimes played soccer (we called it football then) with our malay and indian neighbours and we would interact with one another in our bazaar malay.

so, is there more integration today compared to our kampong days?

13 comments:

peter said...

It begets the question, after so many decades of independence, have we created one naiton one people?

Possibly only for the TV or for some big shots who attend some community dinner. Like what you observe I see the same in schools and makrets. The only time i see integration is among senior citizens who speak english. Now after the senior citizens kick the bucket, that's the last.

Icemoon said...

It is gonna be worse with the influx of .. you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Birds of the feather flock together.....equity and diversty

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Yg, we have 127 different nationalities here in Toronto.
Sit in a bus or subway you'll be hearing from Russian, Swahili, Farsi, Albanian, Cantonese, Korean etc...
48% of the population here are people from another country, all Canadians like me.

And at every party we go, except Malaysian friends or Singapore combined, other parties there'll be friends from all over the planet.
Last Saturday we went to a friends party, there 10 of us from different countries....
Needless to say where games are concerned, a good mixture....except I notice cricket, mostly Indians and Pakistanis as others not familiar.

Our Malaysian friend's children play games with Mongolian, Russian, Korean, Chinese, etc friends....
And the schools here all colours and creed....
I guess it starts at school....

And like you when young I too mixed with Malays and Indian friends....my best years too. Lee.

yg said...

peter, i agree with you. all this national education stuff in schools is just for show. sometimes i feel it tends to accentuate the differences between the races.
it is also difficult to integrate if one group conforms rigidly to certain beliefs and practices.

yg said...

icemoon, that's another layer of integration.

yg said...

anonymous, seems we are like birds. but birds are human like. once i watched two mynahs trying to help an injured 3rd mynah.

yg said...

lee, i am now in melbourne. it is also a cosmopolitan city but it is difficult for me to gauge the extent of integration. however, i do know that among asian students, especially those from s'pore and malaysia' there is little mixing with the caucasian australians. both my daughters' friends are asians, mostly from malaysia and s'pore with a few from hong kong, indonesia, japan, china and korea. all asians.

fr said...

I am more optimistic. It is quite natural for races to mix in their own groups. But that doesn't mean integration doesn't take place.

If nothing has been done in school or in the communities (even for show or under some form of compulsion), things would have been worse off now.

I doubt the intake of foreigners will make things worse; it could make things better.

Thimbuktu said...

i agree with your insights and observations, yg. ir as integrated resort...thus "divercity singapore" is the diversity for our multi-society for harmony; not a homogeneous one.

yg said...

fr, there's integration but i do not see a discernible increase in social integration. my perception could be wrong but what i have observed at the street soccer pitch seemed to bear out the fact.

yg said...

james, 'divercity singapore' is also the title of a book written by three singaporeans.

Thimbuktu said...

the "divercity singapore" is the cartoon history of immigration. read this book to find out and enjoy the imaginative and incisive cartoons by morgan chua. blog here .