Welcome to the Goethe-Institut CityScapes Blog.
From January through December 2011, these were the parameters for a playground of diverse, fascinating, vibrant tales: Responding individually to a collective impetus, a host of hand-picked young bloggers uploaded photos, texts, and multimedia. Every month, they were given a new theme. Step by step, they created a kaleidoscope of impressions, opinions, ideas and… plain fun.
This project has now ended. If you like what you see, you may want to check out the brand new CityTales Comic Blog.
In Singapore you can buy a local dish called Rojak, which in Malay means 'wild mix' or 'combination of ingredients'. And it is often what we use to describe the diverse cultures that reside here.
Singapore has four main races - Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian (in order of density). Within each, there are sub cultures with different religions and customs. Together with that is a huge population of immigrant workers and international expats. The best thing is there is a deep level of respect and understanding between the communities. Although I have heard a few racist comments and jokes before, I have never seen any real tension. Coupled with the fact that most people have friends from the other groups, it really feels like this could be a poster city for racial harmony.
it is quite interesting to find someone writing on the topic. I staid some time in Singapore and always felt it a bit strange. On the one hand, the perfect harmony (which I enjoyed a lot!!!) is stressed a lot. On the other hand, so much importance is given to what is called race (which itself as a term was shocking for me at the beginning).
True, there is rarely any tension felt. On the other hand, I wonder whether this may at least partially be the effect of a rather strict separation, which would make tension almost impossible due to lack of contact.
And - don't misunderstand this as a too harsh critique of Singapore in general, just as an attempt to analyze - tension occurs where groups struggle for power, while in Singapore, a rather authoritarian system concentrates power and has been led by the same party (and people) for decades. So actually the conflicts and dialogues which may lead to tension did not even appear. Your previous example of the maids was a perfect one - one could argue that most of the working class, which tends to conflicts as it wants to improve its social situation, is alienized by the fact that they consist of people on temporary limited working visa.
Please correct me if I am wrong (as I probably am, I do not know much about Singapore's history and have a rather superficial view on it).