Friday, July 11, 2014

Zaobao Chinese Parochialism

A few days ago I debated within myself if I should blog about the family sacrifice caused by LKY language policy. It would have helped my kids understand better the communication difficulties my siblings and I had with our parents. We spoke exclusively in Teochew to our parents when we were very young but as we grew up we switched to English and Mandarin was a struggle except for my sister. Higher order communication with my parents were difficult because we didn't have the vocabulary. Our family experience was hardly unique.

When the kids came along, the grand parents tried to pick up Mandarin in order to communicate with them. It was hard work.

This morning I saw the PMO rebuttal to Zaobao editorial on Monday.

The CL version was printed in Zaobao yesterday and here is the July 7 editorial.

I don't read much CL unless visiting Chinese websites. My CL is good enough for that and this editorial.

Many families have paid a high price to be where we are economically. What is water under the bridge, the self appointed guardians of CL at Zaobao, we can't turn back the clock. Moving forward we will resist the government from unnecessary brutal policies especially those that make their job easy and ours hard.  Our MT policy had been hard going for both government and people. LKY walked his talk sweating blood to master CL. I respect him for it and supported the brutal language policy as a result even when I see my children continue to pay a very heavy price. Yesterday my daughter crashed out of her O levels CL exam in tears. But her dyslexic sister worked consistently hard and scored a distinction in the Orals. We put in the work, try our best. What more do these Chinese chauvinists want? Had China opened up ten or fifteen years before 1978 things would have been very different. We made the best of the cards life dealt us. Today we have bigger problems to deal with than this. And the PM is completely right to point out that CL would be in a worse state without the bilingual policy. We would be monolingual in EL. The Malays and Indians also have MT problems but they don't kick up a storm like these Chinese do.


  1. I don't think its right to label people Chinese chauvinists just because the Chinese wants to ensure Chinese language is alive.

    1. Only a very small number are. What is a chauvinist? It is someone who is devoted to a cause who is totally unrealistic and irrational, which was as pointed out by the PM's press secretary.

      CL here is struggling to stay alive and at the same time a minority have made great strides. Without the bilingual policy, it would have been dead. I think some Chinese elites are willing to pay the highest social and economic price to keep the language vibrant. In that case, Singapore will be socially fractured, divided by race and language with a minority good in EL who will make up the economic elites. As that counter factual scenario emerge, many Chinese families will storm the gates of government offices asking for more EL schools and refused to send them to CL schools....this is madness and stupid. The chauvinists are incapable of thinking of the alternative scenario. You cannot have your cake and eat it. Like many families, mine had paid a high price but the price would have been higher for any other scenario. Even my kids' grand parents could understand this and paid the price why can't the more highly educated editors at Zaobao understand?. Bilingualism was a difficult but brilliant policy.

      I tell you why Zaobao had that editorial. Their readership keeps falling. They are just trying to protect their rice bowls. But at what cost to our society? The son is kinder and gentler. Were it LKY, he would call you out and you have no place to hide.

  2. We are an Asian society and we want to keep our roots. Many people struggle with Chinese or English. But that does not mean that we drop the language from schools.

    Some kids do badly, but they should ask themselves why others can score in the languages, and even third languages like French and Japanese.

    1. Better not to pay too much attention to how others perform and take responsibility for your own performance. Had I adopted your attitude I will have big problems at home. A dyslexic child who could have dropped CL but scored a distinction in the orals versus a sibling who just crashed out of the oral exams a couple of days ago....on the other hand excepting CL her report book shows she beat her elder sister in nearly every other subject throughout her school career. As the elder sis had done extremely well for the major exams this gave the younger one confidence that she will do well...both of them will be reading what I just typed here.

      My forward looking parents paid a very high price but they did it for my generation and their grand children future. It was an act of sacrificial love. But those editors at zaobao were looking after their own careers at our expense. You should like LKY would have asked what's their agenda. An analogue event is now playing out among writers boycotting NLB over the pulled books. All these folks were just protecting their parochial interests at our expense. Don't be naive and believe their public confession for serving the greater good. Even the Japanese conquered us styling themselves as liberators. Such tactics are as old as the hills.