Thursday, November 17, 2011

ST: "Singapore is not yet truly multicultural" -- AP Alatas

Recently, on 9 Nov 2011, The Straits Times (ST) published an interview with Associate Professor (AP) Syed Farid Alatas on how although Singapore is a multi-cultural country, in the sense that there are people from many different cultures residing in Singapore, it is not yet truly multi-culturalist.

In view of the Jason Neo incident, I think it is worthwhile to re-read the interview article.

Quotable quotes from the interview article...

I mean, how many Chinese in Singapore have an interest in Malay culture, Islamic civilisation, its arts and poetry? And how many Malays have an interest in the achievements of Chinese civilisation?
 "To put it bluntly, the Malays are seen as a relatively underdeveloped community." There have been decades of writing since the 19th century, and also political or media discourse, that fault Islam as "a brake on development", he [AP Alatas] contends.
"Until today, many people associate Islam with Malay backwardness, and consequently see Islam as a backward religion," he says. 
The idea that progress and integration could possibly come about if Malays are "less religious" persists in Singaporean thinking, he adds.
 "I don't think it's a fading perception because the majority of non-Muslims don't know much about the Malay community and culture, and Islam."
The Malays themselves have myths that the Chinese are "cold, calculating and money-minded", he adds.

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