Why no Tamil signages at the airport?

Red card was shown and a speaker was not allowed to talk on the above topic at Hong Lim Park. This is a sensitive issue on race. A K.Sabesan wrote to the ST and said, 'I wish to express my strong displeasure over the decision of the police to cancel a planned talk at the Speaker's Corner over the absence of Tamil signages at the airport and other tourist attractions...I strongly supported the initiative not out of hatred towards other races, but felt that the issue had to be addressed.' I have full sympathy with such feelings. We have so many Tamils and Bangladeshis here who don't read English or Chinese. We also have so many Thais, Myanmese, Filipinos and Indonesians and people from other countries. And we also have tourists from around the world coming here, including Arabs, Russians, East Europeans, Japanese, Mongolians, Vietnamese etc etc. As a global city welcoming the world to our home, we must show our hospitality towards our guests and our guest workers. We need to make our facilities friendly to all of them. And this is especially so to the valuable foreign workers and foreign talents sacrificing to build our countries and provide employments to Singaporeans. We should have signages for all the languages of the world in our airports and tourist spots. That is not only natural justice, we can also claim another first to do so. Soon big cities like New York, London and Paris will follow our example as truly international cities and put up language signages in their airports. If we are not going to do so, then we should do the next niciest thing, to cut down on the number of foreign workers and foreigners in our country. Then no one can be angry with us or complain that we are being unfair to them. We can't really blame them when there are so many of them here. We must treat them fairly, at least let them know how to go from A to B, in their own languages. Where on earth can you find foreigners demanding rights to have their languages in signages in our airports and tourist spots? Only in Sillypore!


Anonymous said...


redbean said...

it is normal for any group that has grown big enough to want to exert their importance. the bangladeshi, the thais, the filipinos too will want to make claims for their groups. and it actually makes practical sense to communicate to half a million people that don't understand english.

these are the consequences of bringing in too many foreigners. love them, hug them, one day they will turn around and screw your arse. it is happening in europe, especially france, england and spain. australia also has a taste of migrant protesting for their rights.

i am waiting to see when this will blow up as we extend our arms widely to welcome more foreigners here.

Anonymous said...

frankly, i dun mind having japanese signages too. it wud attract japanese and korean tourists to feel at home here, while splashing away their hard earned wons.

disillusion said...

This is nothing to do with race. If you were to accomodate every dialects that are spoken in the world, Singapore might not be big enough to hold the sign.

redbean said...

hi disillusion,

welcome to the blog.

yes, for practical reasons, we cannot afford to have all the languages of the world in signages. as tourists or visitors to other countries, we will respect the country's norms and will not make demands for our own convenience esp when there are practical and cost considerations.

redbean said...

oh, if eventually, as an example, the bangladeshi becomes a majority here, we may want to change our national language to bangladeshi. it is only natural.

Anonymous said...

'Mai Kong Kek Leng Kia Way'

Not long ago someone demanded to be given the same privileges as Singaporeans in applying for HDB flats.

Anonymous said...

she was arguing for privileges in 2 countries, this adopted home and her old hometown, without the inconvenience of taking up spore citizenship and giving up her own. yes i tot that was impudent and cocky too, like we are idiots to not know her real interests.

redbean said...

we are so small. a few hundred thousand will change our demographic pattern. unlike big countries when foreigners will be a minority and so they know how to keep quiet.

here, a few hundred will look a lot relative to the small local population.

we should be thankful that the foreign workers did not ask the serangoon garden residents to move out if they are not happy with their presence.

Anonymous said...

You are right, why don't the Serangoon people move to other areas if they do not like the FWs near them. It is a free country and they are entitled to go anywhere they please, just like the FWs to live anywhere they choose.

Like they say, if you cannot stand the heat, stay out of the kitcen.

redbean said...

i would like to go one step further. make singapore the country for the world. free to come free to go. and we have have signages of all the languages of the world here.

Anonymous said...

i tot spore is already a free to come free to go country of the world..

Anonymous said...

I think people are missing the point - its not a foreign language that's being consigned to the bin, it's one of OUR national languages. As a Sinagporean Indian Tamil, isn't it fair that the legacy of service to this country (by me, my family and all my forefathers who have called Singapore home for the past 150 years) be recognised? Or am i just here for my economic contribution while me cultural legacy makes way for more STPB profits?

redbean said...

hi anonymous,

the 4 official languages are part of our history. for practical reasons, as we have seen the divisiveness of multi languages and how expensive it is to the country and people, we should be working towards a single language.

the experience of india versus that of china and america is a case in point. playing to ethnic pride is going to drag us down.

if there is a choice, we should just forget about ethnic pride and just go for english. the mother tongue can be something to be pursued by the various races at their own time.

if every racial group wants to be seen and her in their mother tongue, we are going to have unending troubles.

Sheela Falzon said...

Dear Red Bean,

I would like to let you know that the call for Tamil signages came from SINGAPOREAN Indians.
People who are born and bred in this country and who are not foreigners.

Anonymous said...

Readbean, are you saying that a homogenised society is the way to go? Our differences are what have made Singapore so successful; the different people who all bring their different skills to bear for this nation. We should celebrate our differences, not seek to remove them and not for the sake of economic development (if even that).

The differences (in language, cultures, traditions) are what we should be celebrating, as it reminds us that we have learnt to accept them and embraced one another despite of them. The mother tongue is already struggling against the MTV/ESPN centric media - we don't need to exacebrate the situation on our streets, in our airports and on our trains (however annoying they may be).

And, if we follow your point thru to its logical conclusion, it will mean that only English signs will be permissible and the other 3 languages will fade away into our history. I for one am loath to see that day come as it will be the death-knell of our Asian heritage. Don't forget, we're Singaporeans in Aisa, and we should not be sacrificing our traditions and heritage in exchange for another hegemonic culture.

redbean said...

hi sheela falzon,

welcome to the blog.

when i first read the name of the forumer in the ST, it gave me the impression that the writer is either a FT or a new citizen. for that matter, by looking at your name, my guess is that you are very likely to be a FT or a new citizen too.

i am not being patronising or trying to be rude. nothing wrong being new citizen or FT.

answering to your comments and anonymous', i think our govt has a fairly good policy on unity in diversity. we want the citizens to share a common language and at the same time retain their differences. that is why each group is encouraged to retain their mother tongue and not to lose their ethnic identity.

at the national level it is better to promote commonality, share common values and even a language we can all communicate with each other.

i too would want my own language to live on. but being in a multi racial country, i would want to play that down. my own culture and language will be used within my social group, quietly.

yes, we may lose it eventually. the younger generations are retaining very little of what our parents had. it is a price we are paying, a compromise.

america is an excellent example of a migrant country. no one is claiming to have lost their own culture or language just because english and english centric culture are the norm.

i won't know how we will evolve, but the lesser we emphasise on our differences, the better it is for us.