Singapore Condition(s)

I was sitting at a nice chinese restaurant at kitchener road, which was at Little India area, on a Sunday…

Eating at a chinese place, I felt a sense of dislocation as I saw busloads of india/bangladeshi workers coming in for their weekend jaunt, I guess. And on and on, it happened…

Watching this scene got me thinking, that there really isn’t a single Singapore-ness that can be defined. There are, in actual fact, many Singapore(s) co-existing, and they are in constant contestations with one another. The PAP, with its control of the newspapers, TV, radio, has a ‘Singapore’ to portray and project onto the minds of Singaporeans, while different Singaporeans from different ‘niches’? have different projections of a different Singapore(s). All of these Singapore(s) are coexisting at the same time, and from time to time, a few dominant projections become dominant, only to fade away, and for another to become dominant. It is also possible, in the minds of people, to hold different, contradictory projections of Singapore…

I’m really, thinking, the ‘Affluent Singapore’ has got hardly anything to say about the ‘Heartland Singapore’… all of these are gross generalisations, and of course, reality is far, far more nuanced than that… What troubles me is that people aren’t aware of the generalisations they are taking, and people carry on with the stereotypes that are dominating in their minds. I mean, ‘Geylang’ is more than a word, or a place. It brings with it certain images, some negative, others positive… and I get to experience that, when I say I live in Geylang.

I’m thinking, a photojournalistic project could on on the cards, using photos and intelligent words to depict the microcosms that constitutes Singapore. I imagine a nice decent camera, with a bicycle, and good buddies to do this with… hmm…

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One comment

  1. Dean

    Hi eddie,
    like I told you, you are the accidental sociologist and now en route to becoming a purposeful one. I agree with you, there are multiple, fragmented “Singapores”: one one hand, we get the state’s ideal representation of an affluent cosmopolitan city, what moving forward together as a nation kind of discourse and on another, we still see many Singaporeans trying very hard to make ends meet.

    I also thought about what would represent Singapore best and i think that would be the hawker centre or kopitiam: an amalgamation of ethnicities, flavors and smells put together that represents the mish-mash kind of society we have…

    I’m cool with the bicycle riding part, though I got no camera…haha.
    I think exploring places with a bicycle really allows you to be aware and sensing of the environment around you. Staying in the comfortable cocoon of the metallic structure called the car often shuts us out of these senses and feelings…

    Keep up the good work! Good to know that you’re always thinking about Singapore society and a question I asked myself quite a few times is: what would Singapore’s future be like? Are we gonna be swept by mindless consumption with all the never ceasing shopping malls that are coming up? Is there more to that to most Singaporeans?

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