Friday, November 21, 2008

Rise of the dragons - xin yi min

Today's Straits Times carried an insightful report on the new Chinese immigrants by Leong Weng Kam entitled "Rise of The New Dragons". He has a blog about this too..

Singapore society has been gradually changing because of the influx of these new migrants from China. One of the more high profile ones is the recent admission of the Chinese actress Gong Li. But these migrants are not just restricted to the rich and wealthy, they are seen everywhere in all stratas of society.

Their presence sometimes causes some discomfort among us because despite their apparent chinese-ness, their ideas of chinese-ness do not necessarily mesh easily with ours. Quite clearly, as they continue to make their presence felt in Singapore society, we will be changed by them, just as much, I hope, as we will also change them. I cannot foretell how Singapore society will look like in another generation or two, but it will certainly not be the same as it is now.

Does it bother me? A little, yes....but that's just the parochial side of me speaking. In truth, I really have no deep fact I find the changes somewhat exciting. Our society will change, and evolve...but such is life.

Once we ourselves were regarded as 'singkek' (新 客; new guest) when our forefathers moved out from China to South East Asia. They changed South East Asia, just as she changed us. Now we view ourselves as Chinese, though not quite Chinese. Therein lies the 'discomfort' at integrating our new citizens. We label them xin yi min (新 移民;new immigrants). But they are no different from the 移
(new guests) of before.

I have met and worked with many of these xin yi min. Most are honest, diligent and desire nothing more than the chance to make a living and to raise their families in safety and comfort. Just a decent chance at life.

I for one, will extend a very warm welcome to those who genuinely seek to make their home here with us.

No comments: