I started observing the Malays in Singapore more closely these days, and am rather appalled by how small my world (and mind) is.
For work, I had to look for some Malays to test a machine in their language. Looked high and low through my Facebook friends list, and only found two! It really is ridiculous, there are “3 main races” in Singapore, and I only have two Malay friends?!
Make it two-and-a-half, says I. My best friend in college is half-Malay and half-Japanese.
One is a teacher, one is a professor, and the half is a homemaker.
I looked further into my list for third degree connection, and found two others – one is a doctor, the other is also a teacher. And then I remembered a third – she is the minister for the zone I am living in! My mom got her to come to our place to say hi.
My mom’s friendlier with my friends than I am, as you will hear from stories that came before and probably more stories will come in the years ahead.
[off for yoga~ continue later!]
I started wondering why I had paid so little attention to this race. Demographics – Singapore is 74.3% Chinese, 13.4% Malays, 9.1% Indians and 3.2% Others, so it cannot be because they are the tiniest minorities. Maybe I should not think so much. Maybe it is great, for it could also subliminally infer that I don’t see a “them” and “us” kind of differentiation. So I observed somemore …
I find them to be gentle, mild-mannered and soft-spoken people. Just being on public transport alone, I get disturbed by Chinese individuals and Indian families at times, because they can be really loud and rude. But with Malays, be it individuals or in groups, they almost always are quietly existing, and almost always smiling as they chat, and you would almost always never hear their conversations.
And I observed (aka eavesdrop!) somemore … In terms of language, young to adult Singaporean Chinese tend to speak in English, while the older generations communicate in their dialects (Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, etc). Singaporean Indians tend to speak (or shout) in English too, except when they speak to their elderly, that would be in their language (I still can’t tell between Tamil and Hindi ..). As for Malays, young or old, I always hear them speaking in the Malay language (that is Singapore’s national language, by the way).
Another thought came to mind: maybe the loud, obnoxious are mostly the new generation of immigrants? Opening another can of worms of perspectives I never thought much about.
Everything in life has too many different factors causing many different opinions / judgements / biases. I guess at this point, my “conclusion” is that we have to examine our own prejudices before making any snap judgements or sweeping statements on “what is wrong” or “what we dislike”.
So now, I move on to trying to get to know another culture of my country better. Starting to stalk poets of a different language, and maybe learn to appreciate their (calligraphic/)scripts.
Another line found, another line to explore, another line to erase. 🙂