Everyone should be no stranger to the crisis that is happening in Hong Kong right now (unless you are seriously stuck in a far far away planet).
While we see fresh waves of protests everyday, it feels like the violent protests have lost the purpose it originally set out and has just morphed into simply: violence for violence’s sake.
Whilst looking at the Hong Kong crisis and how the Hongkongers relate to China, it made us think of how Singaporeans relate to China.
The key difference is this: Singapore is an independent, sovereign country. But Hong Kong is a special administration region under China.
In essence, while we are similar, we are also quite different.
Our forefathers — the Chinese, Malays and Indians came to Singapore as sojourners — and chose to sank their roots here. They had links to their homes and cultures in the past, but this has evolved overtime to develop our own brand of Singaporean identity and culture.
And with the world entering more uncertain periods, Singapore’s unique position and our understanding of how we came to be will be key to us navigating these troubled waters together as a nation.
Such as the growing tensions between US-China.
You might remember that PM has spoken about this in his National Day Rally speech, which bears reiterating here.
The disagreements between the US and China have put many countries in a difficult spot. No country wants to take sides, including Singapore.
Realistically speaking, (and we think) most people recognise that the US-China tensions would not be resolved in the immediate term. This would impact the World Order, and definitely has an impact on Singapore.
Singapore are good friends with both the US and China — and we work with both countries closely. Thus, it is vital that we are not seen to be taking sides.
Being the only sovereign country outside China with a Chinese-ethnic majority puts Singapore in a very unique position. While the shared culture could be a natural advantage to us, it could sometimes put Singapore in a difficult position. Our words and actions might be very easily misunderstood by others, especially in the current climate of the US-China tensions.
Like what PM said, if Singapore supports China, the US and other countries may think we are doing that because we are a majority Chinese country. But if we support the US, China will ask why we hold different views from them even though we share the same heritage and ancestry.
PM also reiterated the need for Singapore should always maintain a consistent position — to be always principled in our approach and maintain the same stand regardless of whoever we speak to.
Simply because we are Singaporeans first and foremost: a multi-cultural, independent and sovereign country with our own position on issues.
Singaporeans will also have to stand together and understand what the national interests are, and the Government’s considerations in adopting our positions.
We think that PM has a point.
Even though it is not easy, it is necessary for Singapore to be consistent with our stand on various issues. If we sway in our positions (like our neighbour up North), it would only come back to bite us in the ass.
Beyond making Singapore less credible as a country, it is possible that we throw ourselves into the ditches. Other countries will also not have any respect for us.
Can you imagine if we had swung our positions on Pedra Branca — we can’t imagine what could have potentially happened… but that’s another story for another day.
At the end of the day, we must remember that we are Singaporeans at our core, and Singapore’s interests must come first. When we are caught in between for the US-China tensions, we will have to remain level-headed and not be swung either ways. Swinging to either side is the easy way out, which will be very disastrous for Singapore down the road.
While we seem ethnically the same as China — we look the same, we speak the same language, we even have the same ancestors — our make-up (not the one which requires lipstick or eyeliner) has evolved overtime.
It is quite true: that we are same same, but also quite different.