Thought of the Day - "Racial Chauvinists", Religion, Humanity & Balance
This is going to be a "political incorrect" and sensitive topic but it sets me thinking for quite a long while.
What will happen when a "perceived" Chinese Chauvinist meets a "labeled" Malay Chauvinist?
A good friend of mine, a Malay, told me that his friend "warned" him about me being "Chinese Chauvinist" and wanted him to "stay away" from me. My friend replied "I am also a Malay Chauvinist, so what?"
Simple Labels are thrown around in politics as a means of divide and rule. I get this "Chinese Chauvinist" label ever since my first electoral contest in Aljunied GRC under WP because I played the role as "Chinese Anchor" by making more speeches in Mandarin during elections rallies. My SAP school background has also been played up to justify this label of "Chinese Chauvinist". But as far as I am concerned, technically speaking, I am not truly a Chinese educated person. I always tell others I am "half Chinese-educated" because SAP schools aren't really "Chinese Education" at all.
Yesterday at the Water Protest, I met a veteran Malay political activist/politician who has been labeled as "Malay Chauvinist" by PAP during one of the hotly contested elections. Guess what happens? Did the "fight" between the two "Chauvinist" figures occur? Nope.
He said to me that he has been following my various postings and find that I have been very fair in writing towards the Malays/Muslims issues.
Deep down in my heart, I regard everyone as a Human Beings first (unless you want to be a dog of some kind...) before you are racially or religiously classified. We have the same color of blood running in our veins. As human beings, we should have the same understanding of Humanity.
I just told him that sometimes, for some "sensitive Malay/Mulsim" issues or perspectives, it is better for Chinese or non-Malay/Muslim to speak up for them, else PAP people would use the opportunity to put labels on those Malays/Muslims who dare to utter those words. We are humans and Singaporeans, we look after and speak up for each other. Don't ever allow PAP to use "divide and rule" on us anymore.
PAP has always emphasized on the FEAR of racial disharmony and what not. It has always proclaimed that we need "racial balance" and it has always been playing the racial card whenever it suits their agenda. The Elected Presidency and GRC system the most prominent examples. Of course, at the same time, it will disallow others from "playing racial politics".
The curious thing is this. While PAP played the racial card well and regularly, it has always shy away from the topic of "religious balance" in politics. Religious political perspective is more sensitive than racial politics to PAP. The last opposition politician who touched on this "most sensitive" topic of "religious balance" in PAP government, got hammered and chased out of Singapore. This is none other than Mr Tang Liang Hong. He had two labels thrown at him, not one. "Anti-Christian Chinese Chauvinist". That was the exact label.
Despite the fact that Mr Tang can speak Fluent Malay and learned Indian Dance, the "Chinese Chauvinist" label was put on him.Yet some Singaporeans actually buy PAP's story! Just because he is really "Chinese educated" and also speak fluent Mandarin. The "Anti-Christian" label was put on him just because he mentioned about the imbalance of religious mix within the Cabinet in one of the dialogue sessions.
He had just poked at the sensitivity of PAP government, which was and still is factually correct.
Religion is of course, a sensitive and emotional issue. Some people could lose their sensibility and even human logical mind when discussing religious topic. Especially in politics, it makes people irrational, ignoring all other issues but focusing solely on their own religious beliefs.
I have met several people of such mindset in my FB. When it comes to the issue of "Israel", it seems that some people just went bonkus. They were "known" to be "opposition supporters" but when I try to make sense of the happening in Israel as an issue of atrocities against humanity, they will somewhat justify that as "Palestine is the God's promised land to Jews". Well, for people like me who do not believe in Abrahamic faiths, this is really a non-issue. The real issue of the day is that sufferings to humanity are happening in Palestine due to Israel's unreasonable doings.
At the end of the day, they would end up with "I will not vote for you" just because I am "against Israel"!
I raise this point to illustrate how religious faiths could greatly affect one's rational thinking and we should NOT pretend that such things don't happen. I would say that beside racial balance, religious balance in politics is an important key issue for Singapore as well. This is especially so when the Abrahamic faiths followers are somewhat affected by the tensions created in the Middle East.
Every religions will have its extremist factions. They might be the minority but their twisted teaching may affect a lot more people unknowingly. Even Buddhism has its fair share of cults created over the decades and centuries.
In Singapore's context, we have to eradicate and prevent such extremism from evolving in ALL religions in Singapore. And the best way to effect such preventive measures is to have a good balance of representation of people with different religious beliefs in parliament as well as the Cabinet. The religious moderates should dominate the political sphere, in prevention of any extremism from any religious faith from hijacking the platform.
However, comparatively, Buddhists and Taoists are rather inactive in the political sphere. Somehow, among the Buddhist community, there is a subtle inherent discouragement of political engagement or involvement due to our religious belief. Most of the Buddhists would just take a detached attitude towards politics. Their religious faith is personal and do not see the need or importance of political involvement.
Even more so for the "elites" in the Buddhist community. They view politics as "dirty" and it would hinder their own practice of mindfulness, gaining merits so that they could be reincarnated or reborn into better realms or even attaining Nirvana.
This is why in Singapore, even though the Buddhist/Taoist community is the largest among the various religions, we are "under-represented" in the political sphere.
But I think otherwise. Buddhists could well be the balancing force in Singapore politics when the tension between the Abrahamic faiths could well spill over from Middle East.
The reason why I could put up a FAIR position on the issue of Islam, Malay and Israel is not because I am Chinese but rather, I am a Buddhist and not bounded by the Abrahamic-faith mindset. I see things as it is, in modern context and I am not bounded by whatever past historical religious happenings in the Middle East.
Having said that, I personally feel that Catholics are generally more moderate in nature. They have a better understanding that Islam, has similar roots to their faith. It is a curious point because the Crusades and Jihads have been fought bitterly between the Muslims and Catholics centuries ago. But they have evolved.
I had a Catholic friend who said that Catholic encourages fasting for one month prior to Easter or Good Friday. They will fast for a meal a day and the money saved from this meal, they will donate out to charity. Doesn't that sound familiar? The only difference is that Muslims and Catholics chose to fast on different months but both believe that fasting is essential in keeping mindfulness about the cleansing of their body and mind.
Sometimes many people ask me to give up opposition politics altogether. Well, I will give up eventually and hopefully soon. Like all good Buddhists, I would like to have my last years of my life spent in seclusion and private practice to attain enlightenment. It would be a great blessing if I could become a monk in this life. But for the time being, I will have to continue to play my role and duty to my country.
Hopefully when the time is up, I shall know by Divine intervention. :)
Goh Meng Seng
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