Singapore National Day 2016


HAPPY NATIONAL DAY SINGAPORE!

imgsingapore-national-day-parade-2016

Another eventful year for Singapore as we cross into 51 years of statehood independence and what a journey it has been for Singapore. Our forefathers have toiled this land to make this country a safe and prosperous one – a place where everyone can live, work and play (Pokemon GO) safely.

I am no doubt happy to be a Singaporean, as much as Singaporeans continue to remain in search for our unique identity. The debate between Singlish and English continues, and what do we make out of the strict ethnicity quota that hasn’t changed much as well as battling the evils of what globalisation has led us to (indiscriminate racism on social media and acts of terrorism through proxy funders).

But beyond the constant search for our Singaporean identity and mine (being of mixed ethnicity can get extremely confusing), the safety and security that this country has provided us all remains at the forefront of envy among others in the world. That is something that we cannot take for granted. We continue to be a place that is safe for our young and old to walk the streets at night compared to most countries regionally, our education system continues to be extremely rigorous in producing scholars and we continue to be a place where everyone can have freedom of worship.

True that there is a lot more that we could work on to become better than what we are today – a better pace of living, better work-life balance and to be a more affordable place to live in with better living wages to enjoy some of the best things in life when we choose to retire.

But as the National Day Parade yesterday has shown, we frequently still do travel back in time to revisit our historical past. We are a country of people that remains sentimental at heart, fillial to our ancestors and elders, and that helps to keep us grounded to who we really are.

Of course, while there were comments about the Badang narrative that was potrayed, I felt that what was more important is that there were those of us who knew the story and were trying to put things right to it. We believe in the right to potray what is truthful. There were contentions about Badang having tattoos, being a bit too muscular and flying at that but none of us were arguing about the legitimacy of his story because we know and we understand that Badang did exist.

So, I am proud and I am happy that Singaporeans were stepping up to defend Badang’s authenticity (looks, storyline, etc) and I wish that more people would step up to talk more about the other stories that we have in Singapore because the Singapore narrative is so much more beyond Sang Nila Utama and Sir Stamford Raffles, Singapore holds stories to so much more history that if one decides to venture out in search for it, you will be amazed at how much history there is (if you’re really keen on venturing out to these places and learning about them, give this a try Lumba Bahasa & Budaya Gerek).

More than just stories about Singapore, the stories that one can discover will make you realize how connected we are to our closest neighbours, Indonesia and Malaysia, and how much we actually share our history with theirs. It’s a lot like the prequel begins in Indonesia, then the plot thickens in Singapore, with the sequels in Malaysia.

But moving beyond our history and shared history, we need to create new stories, we need to create new heroes or have people stepping forward, we need to create new figures or have figures that we can all stand together behind and support. And I’m not talking about politicians or figures of state, but it’s the story of the everyday Ali, Muthu, Ah Tan or John that we can all connect with – the story of how a young Singaporean saves his country like the story of Hang Nadim, or the story of an immigrant who roots himself in Singapore and puts Singapore on the map like Badang.

We need this to move forward and to do that, we need to stop arguing endlessly over the small things, agree to disagree and start looking at the big picture, of how we are positioned in relation to the world and work together hand in hand, locals and foreigners, putting aside our differences but align our commonalities for what is most important to us all – and if you ask me what that could be, I’m guessing it’s HAPPINESS.

True to the words of Pak Zubir Said when he composed our National Anthem,

‘Mari Kita Rakyat Singapura Sama-sama Menuju Bahagia’

Let us all, Singaporeans head towards happiness

because if we aren’t happy, then really, what do we want?

Eventful March and April


March was a really exciting month and seems like April is going to look like a very long one as well. Every Saturday in March, I saw at the judges table, on invitation from National University of Singapore’s Persatuan Bahasa Melayu Universiti Kebangsaan Singapura or better known as NUS PBMUKS, to judge quatrains for a Pesta Pantun competition.

This year was the competitions’ 20th anniversary and aside from the regular local teams/schools that took part to compete, this years’ competition was opened to teams from across the causeway, Malaysia, and what a competition it was.

Competition was tough and clearly, standards in language and delivery were different between the two countries.

Nevertheless, one thing remained in the world of quatrains, ENTERTAINMENT VALUE.

Quatrains, always had one thing that I enjoyed the most, was its’ ability to send out subtle messages in the most entertaining manner. Of course, some messages aren’t so subtle but take pot shots at the other.

These days, not many people speak in quatrains and well, while we may have lost a small part of our daily culture, I am also thankful that we no longer speak in quatrains except on certain occasions or otherwise, it’d be really tiring to get a message across and if you’re someone who is unable to read between the lines, quatrains will leave you lost.

Pesta Pantun

Pesta Pantun 2016 judges (seated) with NUS PBMUKS Pesta Pantun Adviser (Standing Left) and NUS PBMUKS President (Standing Right) and Vice President (Standing Centre)

Aside from Pesta Pantun, By Definition Pte Ltd was also busy judging for a Storytelling competition organised by Tiong Bahru Youth Executive Committee (YEC). So, that’s two events in March.

No, I couldn’t do it so got one of the #TeamByDef family members to do it instead!

Story Alive

Hidayah (in hijab) together with the winners and judges from Story Alive!

And just yesterday, in support of a collaborative effort between Chong Pang CC MAEC, Woodlands CC MAEC, and Woodlands Galaxy CC MAEC together with Masjid Darul Makmur and Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang, we took up two booths at Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang, the last standing kampong mosque in Singapore for a ‘Jom Balik Kampong’ event, selling cold drinks and our traditional games.

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Awesome friends volunteering their time to help out with the booth!

Response from the crowd was very encouraging as we marketed and sold many of our traditional game items, games that we usually conduct in schools. So yes, we are now also plying our wares to ensure that our traditional games can continue to be played even at home.

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A very sporting Grassroots Adviser, Amrin Amin, who decided that he’d give the Tapak Gajah a try in socks, watched on by fellow Grassroots Adviser, Khaw Boon Wan.

So, if you’re looking for traditional games to play at home, look no further.

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Tapak Gajah, Gasing Buluh (Bamboo Spinning Top), Batu Seremban, Yeh Yeh, Gasing and Lagu-Lagu Rakyat book all available for sale at the event and now, will be made available for public sales.

Of course, as these items are personally sourced out, we always keep a limited stock in supply. So, if you’re keen to get your hands on them, drop us an email (info@bydefinition.net) to order and once the games arrive, we’ll let you know!

And finally, I’m really excited for the end of the month.

From Pesta Pantun in Singapore to PISMA, a regional pantun competition in Melaka held over 4 days and yours truly has been invited as one of the judges. All praise to God really for the opportunity. Without Pesta Pantun, I don’t think I would have received the invite at all.

So, I’m really looking forward to the 5 teams from Singapore Polytechnic who will be representing Singapore! That’s happening from 29 April to 2nd May. And yes, I’ll be sourcing out for more traditional games in my travels.

MAJULAH SINGAPURA – GOLDEN JUBILEE


5 years ago, around the same time, I blogged about my hopes and dreams for Singapore as part of the National Day Celebrations (‘Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag’).

In case you missed it, here’s what I wanted:

“As a Singaporean, one of my dreams is for us to be able to experience a state which encourages the following:

  1. FREE DOM OF SPEECH & EXPRESSION BEFORE AND AFTER SPEECH & EXPRESSION HAS TAKEN PLACE
  2. A MORE ACCURATE AND MENTALLY PROVOCATIVE REPORTING OF NEWS BY MEDIA THAT IS IMPARTIAL and
  3. FOR THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT AND IT’S AGENCIES TO BE MORE ACCEPTING AND OPEN TO CRITICISM FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD AND TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTAND THAT CRITICISM, WHEN CONSTRUCTIVE SHOULD BE SEEN AS A MEANS TOWARDS IMPROVEMENT

I also have a dream for all Singaporeans:

  • TO STAKE A CLAIM IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE STATE AND NOT JUST LEAVE IT TO THE POLITICIANS WHOM WE HAVE VOTED FOR”

How different have my views been over the past 5 years?

Not much really. I still believe in each and every single one of those hopes and dreams that I spoke of. More than just that, I actually have one more to add.

I would really like to see Singaporeans learn more about one another, our cultures, our ethnicities, our faiths, so that we can better engage foreigners who come to live, work and play in Singapore and make this country a better place for not just Singaporeans, but also for them as well.

Government policies aside, we can exercise our vote this coming General Elections, but as a community, a nation, we need to show the rest of the world that we are loving, caring and have the ability to accept people of all backgrounds.

Why am I so focused on this?

Because over the past few years, Singapore has had to deal with many issues related to conflicts arising out of Interfaith-Intercultural misunderstanding or miscommunication (Amy Cheong, Anton Casey, Cook A Pot of Curry). But these issues are not just exclusive to Singapore.

This issue affects each and every single country, globally, all around the world.

In the US, you have had a non-white Miss America winner which caused a huge ruckus. To quite a significant number of ignorant Americans, the typical American had to be blonde and white, which in my personal experience, is far from it. And even for those who have been living in America for a long time or are even Americans, they still face issues that recur time and again (Blackface).

These are issues related to ethnicity, culture and to some extend, faith.

Since 2014, I have been actively trying to engage the community through my own personal endeavour to spread the importance of interfaith-intercultural understanding, a personal commitment arising out of my fellowship in the US. Nonetheless, an issue I strongly believe in and champion for.

Achieving Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding Through Games

“Achieving Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding Through Games”, National Day Celebrations 2015, Hwa Chong Institution

I am thankful for the opportunity that I have been given to give lectures and talks on this issue. More than that, I hope that the audience I have engaged in, have a better understanding of the dangers of what social media can do to them. Going forward, we all need to learn how to “RESPOND, NO REACT” to situations that invoke our emotions. We need to rationalise the situation and provide the best response that will create positive outcomes not just for us, but for everyone.

In the words of Zubir Said,

“Mari Kita Rakyat Singapura, Sama-sama Menuju Bahagia”

(Let us all, the citizens of Singapore, move towards happiness)

“Cita-cita Kita Yang Mulia, Berjaya Singapura”

(Together with our noble dreams, hopes, ambitions, success Singapore)

“Marilah Kita Bersatu, Dengan Semangat Yang Baru”

(Let us all unite, with renewed hope/energy)

“Semua Kita Berseru, Majulah Singapura”

(Let us all proclaim, Onward Singapore)

We all need to internalize the lyrics of our National Anthem and work towards it. The lyrics resonate with us even today as we struggle with issues and as we seek to find renewed hope/energy. But we can only achieve success and happiness, if our ambitions, dreams and hopes are noble.

So, my dear Singaporeans, this National Day, let us focus on these lyrics. Let’s remember this lyric as we enter the General Elections and vote for the candidate/party that will be able to bring everyone together to achieve our noble dreams, ambitions and hopes for our success and happiness, and most importantly, to bring Singapore forward.

Imitation is the best form of flattery


In a city-state country like Singapore where imitation goods and breach of Intellectual Property rights receive heavy punishment, it is a safe haven for companies and individuals who have patents on ideas and products.

Several months ago, on my return from my fellowship in the United States, Singapore saw its first riot in a very long time. Now dubbed, ‘Little India Riot’, the case received much international media attention and I had my fair share when I wrote in a letter to Minister Teo and several other Members of Parliament offering assistance to the situation in the form of programmes that will benefit civil society.

Days after the email, I had a meeting with Ministry of Home Affairs officers in charge of the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) and had proposed my idea for an ‘Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding Programme’ aka IF-IC-UP.

This programme was designed based on research and observations I had conducted when on my fellowship at the University of California Irvine (UCI) on the trends of conflict over Singapore’s history, and I had shared them with those officers on what were some modules that would be best implemented and the strategies that we could work around to tackle those issues, in preparation for the future.

I was also told that perhaps I should take a look at what CEP was all about to have a better understanding on their directions. I took a look and observed that it was a more intervention approach with a focus on post-terrorism. I, on the other hand, was proposing a more preventive approach as I felt and knew from experience being a volunteer and an educator that prevention is better than cure.

However, my suggestion wasn’t taken up.

Fast forward to several days back, I saw on the news, “CEP Connectors”.

This programme was to be run in the form of Interest Group at all Community Clubs/Centres with its objective to build understanding between different cultures! – THE VERY SAME OBJECTIVE THAT I HAD SHARED MONTHS EARLIER!

Of course, trying to stake a claim from them for my ideas would seem ridiculous as it would difficult for me to prove that they had in better terms, ‘stole’ my idea (intellectual property), and redesigned it to be something a little different.

I have to say, I’m extremely flattered that my national movement idea was considered, ‘stolen’, adapted and implemented, all without my knowledge, after possibly providing some valuable input.

Regardless, for those of you are interested to learn more about it, do visit ificu.wordpress.com to find out more about what my programme is all about and hopefully, we could find a way to work together.

Most importantly, do share with your friends, the link.

Moving ahead, I will be proceeding to run an online version of my plans on Facebook!

Will be announcing that in the coming weeks to come, as soon as I get more information up onto the website!

Edited Notes:

I had proposed to run this programme with People’s Association as early as June last year before I left for my fellowship. On return, I had followed-up to propose a meeting to discuss but was turned down by People’s Association. Thereafter, the meeting with Ministry of Home Affairs happened.

This programme is now rolled out by People’s Association. The individuals are trained under the CEP.

Further Edit:

This issue has since been clarified. I wrote in to Professor Fatimah and have received clarification from her that this project was conceptualized by her in October 2013 and is purely her initiative.

Exercising Importance of Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding (for work and personal)


As part of my Community Solutions Program Fellowship follow-on project, a speech highlighting importance of Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding at Singapore Polytechnic to graduating students of Diploma in International Business.

If you are interested to have an Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding Program workshop for your school/organizations, email me abdillah@bydefinition.net

Other workshops available:
– Positive Bystander Intervention
– Successful Events Management
– Personal Leadership Planning
– and many more!

Follow me on twitter @AbdillahZamzuri

Learning from Devina Dediva’s case


As the social environment in Singapore becomes more culturally diverse, we also begin to see plenty of shake-ups. Most of which affects the harmony and peace that Singaporeans currently enjoy.

For the most part, Singaporeans are really peaceful people or perhaps, we just don’t like to invite trouble and hence prefer to err on the side of caution and rather than talk about it, we sweep it away under the rug and opt to let sensitive matters slide for another day. (Or because we are just worried that we might get charged under the Sedition Act)

Just last year, NTUC’s Amy Cheong caused a big hoo-haa when she insulted the Malay-Muslim community with her comments on a wedding at the void deck. We all know what happened to her. The rise of social media caught her by surprise and despite trying to make amends, she lost her job in less than 24 hours and was out of Singapore and back in Australia, embarassed (I suppose).

So, what happened this year?

A female Facebook user by the name of Devina Dediva, apparently working in a Philippine school in Singapore and of Indian heritage decided to come out of her shell to make her comments on Miss World 2013.

Devina Dediva

Devina Dediva

Source: Channel News Asia

And whilst I’m constantly researching on news of such acts being done by Singaporeans, it seems that the trend seems to blow the harmony of Singaporeans is coming from the foreigners living and working in Singapore.

This doesn’t mean that my Fellowship in the US is not important for the ‘Interfaith – Intercultural Understanding Training Programme’ that I’m developing here to be implemented in Singapore on my return. This means that it gets even more important for the Singaporean youths to be sufficiently educated with the necessary skills and knowledge to learn how to manage and ensure harmonious ties between the different faiths and cultures in Singapore can be strengthened.

We are such a small nation and we cannot afford such ‘distractions’ to divide us as a society.

Yes, a study was conducted previously on Racial and Religious relations found low scores on close interracial friendships (4.51/10) and interest in intercultural understanding and interaction (6.49/10). Read more here.

From this study, I deduce the following:

  1. Singaporeans are keen to try to have an intercultural understanding but lack opportunities to do so (Environmental factor)
  2. Singaporeans are keen to try to have an intercultural relationship but don’t know how to do so (Skill factor)
  3. Singaporeans prefer to a bit nice by saying they are interested in intercultural understanding but don’t make any effort to do so (Knowledge, Skill and Experience factor)

With 2 more months of my Fellowship in the US coming to an end, I can proudly announce the following:

  1. There will be opportunities for Singaporeans to have close interracial friendships and deepen intercultural understanding.
  2. There will be Knowledge and Skills within the framework of the training programme to equip Singaporeans to learn how to manage cultural differences in communication.

As my research team currently conducts its research, I seek support from Singaporeans who believe in the cause for Peace and Harmony through ‘Interfaith and Intercultural Understanding Training’ for your active participation.

Please do share this to all your friends as we look forward for something that will benefit our beloved Singapore.

And for those who do attend, I guarantee that the knowledge and skills you learn is transferable for work in multicultural environments.

From RACIST to FEATURIST and ETHNICIST


Before you continue to read, I need you to understand several factors:

  1. I’m not a Sociologist
  2. I’m not a Psychologist
  3. I’m not an Academic
  4. I’m not a Researcher

So what am I?

  1. I am Human

In this topic that I’m going to share with you, we first need to understand the different definitions of the term, ‘RACIST’

TheFreeDictionary

Noun. racist – a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others

Oxford Dictionaries

Noun. racism – the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as superior or inferior to another race or races

Merriam Webster Dictionary

Noun. racism – the belief that some races of people are better than others

So, what then makes someone belong to a particular race?

The Free Dictionary

Noun. race – 1) A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics, 2) A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution, 3) A geneological line: A lineage

Oxford Dictionaries

Noun. race – 1) each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics: people of all races, colors, and creeds, 2) a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group:we Scots were a bloodthirsty race then, 3) the fact or condition of belonging to a racial division or group; the qualities or characteristics associated with this:people of mixed race, 4) a group or set of people or things with a common feature or features:some male firefighters still regarded women as a race apart

Merriam Webster Dictionary

Noun. race – 1) a family, tribe, people or nation that belong the same stock, 2) a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits or characteristics

Okay, so the dictionaries have helped to define for us what race is although one of the definitions might be confusing, ‘a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc: an ethnic group’

It’s confusing because first it speaks about race and then it goes on to say ethnic group. So, for the purposes of this, let’s find out what ‘ethnic’ is.

The Free Dictionary

Adj. ethnic – 1) Of, relating to, or characteristic of a sizable group of people sharing a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage, 2) Being a member of a particular ethnic group, especially belonging to a national group by heritage or culture but residing outside its national boundaries: ethnic Hungarians living in northern Serbia, 3) Relating to a people not Christian or Jewish.

Noun. ethnic – A member of a particular ethnic group, especially one who maintains the language or customs of the group.

Oxford Dictionaries

Adj. ethnic – 1) of or relating to a population subgroup (within a larger or dominant national or cultural group) with a common national or cultural tradition:leaders of ethnic communities, 2) of or relating to national and cultural origins:two playwrights of different ethnic origins, 3) denoting origin by birth or descent rather than by present nationality:ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, 4) characteristic of or belonging to a non-Western cultural tradition:ethnic dishesfolk and ethnic music

Noun. ethnic – chiefly North American: a member of an ethnic minority

Merriam Webster Dictionary

Adj. ethnic – 1) of or relating to races or large groups of people who have the same customs, religion, origin, etc, 2) associated with or belonging to a particular race or group of people who have a culture that is different from the main culture of a country

Noun. ethnic – a member of an ethnic group; especially :  a member of a minority group who retains the customs, language, or social views of the group

We now have a better understanding of what Race and Ethnic is:

  1. To belong to a particular RACE, you inherit the following:
  • Physical characteristics or sharing common features as a result of your lineage
  • You share common history with others: a nationality, culture, language
  • Group of people unified by shared interests, habits or characteristics
  1. To belong to a particular ETHNIC, you inherit the following:
  • Group of people sharing common racial, national, religious, linguistic or culture heritage
  • You belong to a group of people who maintains/retains the language or customs of the group

Looking at this, you see that the only major difference between RACE and ETHNIC is the mention of ‘physical characteristics or sharing common features as a result of your lineage’. 

What this means, in other better words, it is referring to PHYSICAL FEATURES. Most common physical feature that perhaps we make reference to would be based on our skin colour.

So, let’s now watch take a short break from reading and watch this video:

(Minutes after I posted this blog up, I came across this video and had to share it as well)

With that new found knowledge, we can now omit skin colour from physical features because we were all once probably dark skinned. And for those of you who are Christian, Jewish and Muslim or if you believe that Adam was the first human created, then all of us, as progeny of Adam, we once had the same skin colour.

And because of human migration and the body’s ability to adapt itself to the different climate changes, our skin had adapted itself to the changing environments leading us to have different skin colours.

So, now that we have determined that RACE is making reference to Physical Features minus skin colour, we are left with the following physical features:

  • Size (Tall vs Short, Big vs Small)
  • Eye Colour (Okay well, there’s just a lot)
  • Eye shape/sizes
  • Mouth shape/Sizes
  • Nose shape/sizes
  • Ear shapes/sizes

Everything else but colour of our skin.

Where does that then put the term RACE under?

So, I don’t think it’d be particularly accurate for anyone to be a racist since you’d also be making reference to ethnic. What would be more accurate would perhaps for us to be, ‘FEATURIST’ because we are then only focusing on the individual’s features.

We can also then conclude the following:

  • Humans belong to one race – HUMAN RACE
  • Humans are segregated by ETHNIC which entails habits, cultures, language, religion
  • Humans are different in skin colour due to migration patterns (now we sound like birds)

So, the next time someone talks about someone being a ‘Racist’, correct the person to use the right term, ‘Featurist’. If he/she gets confused, ask him/her what is it that he/she is referring to?

If it’s regarding physical features, then he’s being a ‘Featurist’ and if it’s regarding cultures, language, religion, habits, then he’s being an ‘Ethnicist’.

END RACISM THROUGH MULTICULTURALISM


Throughout history, the world has continuously seen and observed acts of racism and actions done to end racism, but how far have we come?

When Martin Luther King began his campaign to end racism in the United States, it was met with much violence. This was way after the fight to end slavery and today, the world is still burdened with racism, which has evolved to encapsulate other ethic groups of people.

Here in the US, some communities of people consider themselves more supreme over the others.

Marginalized communities here are all those who do not have ‘white’ skin and this is something that I experienced in a recent workshop conducted by Lee Mun Wah. Students of various ethinicity gathered in a room and as an exchange of experiences transpired, I soon realized that society in the US is marginalized, even at the institutional level among student themselves.

Individuals are being judged by the colour of their skin and their size. Individuals are being judged by the accents that they have and individuals are being judged by the clothes that they wear.

Individuals are being judged all the time – and that is exactly how life is.

BUT, what are we judging for?

As a Police Officer, I make judgement calls all the time for my personal safety and security, and those of others I have taken a pledge to protect and to serve when I am in uniform, or otherwise. My judgement is based on the need to identify certain individuals who fit a certain description, based on cases that have occurred and it changes all the time.

When an individual makes a judgement of a person, what are you judging for?

We all have a need to survive and we try to protect ourselves from harm, and this is a basic and most natural animalistic instinct that we all have. But surely as humans, we also have the capacity to exercise our mental and emotional capacity much better than an animal.

So, when Miss America was crowned, there was an immediate knee jerk reaction from communities in the US who had a preconceived idea that being a true American means being white, blonde and had tattoos. Miss America 2013, was of course, an American but she was an American of Asian descendant – born in America to parents of Indian ethinicity.

And just like Singapore, the indigenous people of America didn’t have white skin to begin with. We were all of darker skin tone.

So, when societies of people began migrating and making other places their home, they were welcomed by the indigenous and eventually outnumbered them. They began institutionalizing acts which made integration seem almost impossible because people were no longer trying to communicate to understand one another. Instead, people were communicating because they wanted to learn how to overpower one another.

Here in the US, I read a status update of an African friend who’s here on a fellowship with me being called ‘Negro’ by a bunch of 5 year olds.

Then in Singapore, I read an update of our PCF Kindergarten playing on racial stereotypes to our 5 year olds on food that people of different cultures eat.

Image

At the time of posting this photograph, there have been 300 shares of this photograph on Facebook.

Racism could probably never end when it is being institutionalized and when it is also played out at home.

But imagine a world whereby each and every single individual on this planet is made up of so many cultures. Will that end racism?

Probably no, but probably yes as well because when you have such a diverse multicultural background, there is no reason for you to be racist. If you still insist on being a racist, you’re damn well disrespectful to your entire lineage who have worked so hard through love of one another to stamp out racism.

But hey, even when you don’t look a certain colour, you are still subjected to racism at governmental level because in Singapore, your Identification Card makes it clear what ethnicity you belong to; Chinese, Indian, Malay, Others, Eurasian and many more.

And if that isn’t enough, certain jobs in the government also requires that you are not of a certain ethnicity.

Chances are, if you belong to an indigenous group in Singapore, your opportunities are limited in the government and if you’re a Muslim, your hopes are slimmer.

Just count how many Malay and/or Muslims we have in the Navy or Air Force.

Not that no one wants to apply for it.

I did.

So, if you believe in stamping out racism, how would you go about doing it?

In ending, I shall leave you with this…

‘Abdullah asked whether Adam was created from dust of one particular location or from a mixture of dust collected from various places. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said, “The dust resembles him most because it is white, red, green, pink and blue. It has sweet, sour tastes, agreeable and disagreeable temperaments, hard and soft qualities of mind. This has caused the people to be soft and hard, red, black, yellow, pink based on different types of soil.”

Singaporean Muslim in Orange County


The first thing that comes to your mind when you hear Orange County is the show, The OC, and the most prominent thing about the show is the song from the show!

Moving past the song, you soon start to realize that Orange County is everything and nothing like what you watch on The OC, as is with everything, and here’s why.

  • Public Transportation

For a Singaporean, this would be your biggest bane. Travelling around means you’ll need to check the Bus Schedule in advanced and you better be there early too cause the bus may just pass you by otherwise and won’t arrive till another hour.

Bus Intervals

Bus Intervals

Bus stops aren’t clearly indicated on the Bus Map, it only shows and announcements are only for the Major Intersections. Trust me, travelling around Jambi is so much easier than this.

Buses, depending on the routes cost between $1.50 – $2 per trip. So, if you’re only taking it for one stop and getting off at the next, that’s pretty costly. If you’re moving around a lot of the bus, would make more sense to get the Day Pass at $5. Let’s you move bus hop unlimited till 11:59pm.

Oh speaking of which, buses don’t operate till that late anyway.

  • Beaches

Great beautiful beaches as how you’d see them on TV. They’re also very far to travel to!

From where I’m staying at, it takes me 1.5 hours. An hour to get to the Bus Interchange and another half hour to get to the beach. Mind you, I haven’t included the waiting time for the bus.

And I’ve only visited the nearest beach, Corona Del Mar, which is the main beach.

  • Food

If you’re a Muslim and you’re living here, it’s not easy to locate a Halal grocery store. Thankfully, I found one online and managed to go over there earlier to get some Halal meat! Yay!! What’s even more awesome about it, is that I found Indomie and Indocafe!

WOOHOO!!

Irvine Halal Meat – reviews on Zabihah.com weren’t that good but the lady was definitely friendly and nice to me. I will definitely be coming back since I saw INSTANT PRATA!

Otherwise, food in the restaurants are quite costly too. You don’t get your favourite bowl of Wanton Noodle anywhere here for SGD$3.00, you probably find them here for US$6.00.

I just had my 1/2 Rotisserie Chicken with Potatoes for close to $10 which comes inclusive of a free refill of drinks. It was also during the lunch promotion. So, I do suppose food can be quite costly here.

  • Mosque

It’s Friday and that means, Friday prayers!

It’s quite off the beaten track and doesn’t look like a Mosque, so locating it earlier on was quite a challenge. I simply followed or tried to locate where I see Muslim men and women were walking towards and followed.

Irvine Islamic Center, as they call it, does not have the typical minaret that we often see in Singapore. Nonetheless, it is a very small mosque, much akin to Masjid Holland Village, only slightly bigger and two-storeys in height and comes fully air-conditioned.

Irvine Islamic Center

Irvine Islamic Center

The one giving the sermon was also a different person from the one who was the Imam. What was interesting about it was that kids were praying in bermudas or shorts, which was above the knee and an adult was praying in sleeveless top.

What was even more interesting was that someone wasn’t pleased with the content of the sermon and decided to air his views during the sermon.

Hmmm… the context of it was about Time as a gift and why are taxpayers money spent on equipping the Egyptian regime rather than helping out those in need in USA. Not short of assistance being requested for in the US I suppose.

Oh well, talk about freedom of speech huh?

THE FIRST SINGAPOREAN


Today, has been a really great day!

I was greeted early in the morning with a fantastic email which mentioned what I have long suspected; that I am THE FIRST SINGAPOREAN to have been accepted into the United States Department of State Educational and Cultural Affairs IREX Community Solutions Program.

THE FIRST SINGAPOREAN

THE FIRST SINGAPOREAN

But even more than just being THE FIRST SINGAPOREAN, it also makes me the FIRST MALAY and the FIRST MUSLIM to have been accepted into this program.

Well, that’s probably because no other Singaporean has ever known of the existence of this program or would have interest to attend such a long exchange program (4 months).

But anyways, I’m really excited about being selected and the prospect of being able to experience an absolutely new culture; one that is often associated with being innovative, creative and entrepreneurial!

Hopefully, if my VISA application goes through, I can be there to absorb some of these innovations, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit and infect them to others whom I teach.

That aside, another good news, or rather, one that put a smile on my face is that a Primary 1 student of mine found me on YouTube and dropped me a message!

Coincidentally, today was the last day I taught that class and it’s really such a marvellous way to part and to stay connected. At least I know, songs that I perform will be watched by my students and there can be continuity to have an exchange of education beyond the classroom.

FROM AIMAN

FROM AIMAN

And why is it sweet?

Because he cried this afternoon on stage having suffered from stage fright but nonetheless, he carried on performing with the rest of his classmates!

But now, I really need suggestions!

What’s a good template that I should use for this blog? I think it’s time for a change and I need suggestions!