I guess I could squeeze in one last complaint before the year is out.
Every Mary, Mei Ling, Ali and Gopal in Singapore know that our country's 4 official languages are, not in any order of preference, English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Since when we were young, this fact had been drummed into us. So much so that our primary school readers all had the four main characters named in the first sentence of this paragraph. I am not being racist here but in my frank opinion, the natural forming of such a multi-racial group of friends, though not entirely impossible, is quite unlikely in practice.
I remember when TV transmission started every morning, we were greeted by 4 people in their traditional costumes speaking 4 official languages. Similarly, when transmission ended in the evenings, we were greeted "Good night", "晚安", "Selamat malam" and "Vanakam" separately by 4 people of different races.
Our Singapore Tourism Board's "Uniquely Singapore" website even proudly proclaims so:
There are four official languages in Singapore: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. English is the language of business and administration, and is widely spoken and understood. Most Singaporeans are bilingual, and speak their mother tongue as well as English. Malay is the national language.
So does the website for expatriates in Singapore:
Because of its multiracial makeup, Singapore recognises four official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. English is the language of administration. Malay is the language in which the National Anthem is sung. In schools, children usually take English as the first language and one of the other 3 as a second language. For all intents and purposes, most conversations and business in Singapore are conducted in either English or Mandarin.
Yes, our national language is Malay and our National Anthem is written in that language although many non-Malay Singaporeans do not understand a word of the language, let alone speak it. As to why this is so, it has a lot to do with our history which I will not delve into here.
I remember that several years ago, there were complaints from the public about the only-English information signboards at our MRT stations. As I drive, I never noticed whether the SMRT has since implemented 4-language signboards at all its MRT stations. Maybe someone can enlighten?
A lot of signs I see now are still in 4 official languages. Here is one example:
And rightly so. When it comes to keeping away from danger, you have to make sure that everybody understands the message.
Just a while ago, I was driving to East Coast Lagoon Food Centre for dinner. What I saw on this sign near the service road next to the food centre surprised me:
I am literate in neither Tamil or Japanese but I can tell that the last line on the signboard looks more like the latter than the former. Whatever happened to Tamil? Has the Japanese expatriate or migrant community become so populous in Singapore that they have ousted our Tamil-speaking countrymen? Or did we suffer yet another Japanese invasion since World War II without even knowing it ourselves? What do our Tamil-speaking countrymen have to say about this?
Considering that we are currently having a Korean invasion in Singapore as well, wouldn't Korean be also on our roadsigns one day?
I hope that this post did not spoil your new year in any way. Happy New Year to everyone.