death by paper cut

{April 25, 2006}   Make the Switch


“For love, she moved to the US, where she’s had to cope with gender and racial bias”

This is the headline of an article featured in Today.

In reading all text, the main question I would pose the article is, “what is your point exactly?” As such, I resent the implied connotations of the headline and the incongruence it has with the rest of the text.

Seems to me this is a stayer vs quitter propaganda. First of all, I am in the opinion that people should not be judged just because they can and do decide to build a career and life away from their place of origin.

To paraphrase Catherine Lim’s frequent “Amuses, Muses” contribution to Today, if our forefathers weren’t quitters, we wouldn’t be here today. Pull and push factors are nothing new in whatever economy we find ourselves in, be it agricultural or knowledge-based. Emotional blackmail such as the purpose of this article does not lend itself to a stronger pull factor.

The US -our “Other”. Are gender and race bias absent in any country? In any of us? Let’s try to recall the purported objective of creating GRCs in Singapore, or the calculated practice of preventing the formation of racial enclaves. The fact that Singapore put in so much effort in maintaining racial harmony is because it still remains a fault line. So rather than elevating ourselves above others, how about we recognise that its an inherent issue everyone has to continue to work on.

“She made she switch, now there’s no turning back” translated colloquially – “See lah! See lah! I told you not to go! Now you down there so cham. Never listen to me, I tell you its safer here.”

Its such a contradiction to propagate ourselves as both safe and vulnerable. I rather believe in proving that you are worth your salt no matter where you are, whether you perceive yourself to be in a safer place or not.

In the article, Penny Chua seems to have succeeded in doing just that. The fact that she could climb the corporate ladder would have meant that besides hard work, her (*Ahem* American) superiors must have recognised her efforts and have duly rewarded her.

As an out-stationed Chinese-Female-Singaporean myself, I recognise the lessons learnt from being away from home, lessons that will eventually contribute to the nation building of Singapore. Like how Penny Chua became more sensitive as a result of being in the minority, my sensitivity for other minorities have been heightened. Note that I’ve mention my ethnicity.

It is also when you’re away that you have the opportunity to sharpen your personal and national identity. You have to actively seek out the latest updates happening in Singapore; I’ve tuned into live radio, subscribed to various Singaporean news and iconic blogs, reflect and write about local issues such as this. I believe this is the heartware that our government is trying to nurture. And by being anyway, I’ve nurtured this heartware more authentically then I could have never done in the comfort of my home.

So let’s not make sweeping statements such as the discussed headline skewed by the media.


[…] this post will not be about the much worn topic of a misplaced chinese singaporean /singaporean chinese losing culture and roots to imperialist america, and not wanting to be rooted to home (decidedly singapore) after a stinct of overseas education i.e. quitter. […]

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