The Chinese was the worst affected in MTL

As a group, the Chinese was the worst affected group by the Mother Tongue Language policy. Other than the numerous dialects spoken at home, many homes were using Malay or English, or any other languages except Mandarin. Mandarin was a foreign language to the majority of Singaporean Chinese who were mostly southerners. The peranakans spoke a mixture of Hokien and Malay and English. When the policy was introduced, many Chinese children were caught in a very difficult position. The worst affected are the Babas and those who used mainly English at home. Many have opted for Hopson’s Choice and migrated, for the sake of their children’s education. For without a good pass in Mandarin, the door to tertiary education is closed. More importantly, the children would have to struggle with more tuition to try to make the grade. It was misery and a painful childhood to many Chinese children. If any, the Chinese should be the group that would be shouting discrimination and being put in a very disadvantageous position vis a vis the other races. The Malays should have lesser difficulty in MTL as Malay is their mother tongue and spoken at home. I think the Indians too have quite a comparable problem with the Chinese as many spoke different dialects as well as English at home. Some of them also ended up migrating. They too did not shout discrimination. They have accepted the MTL policy grudgingly for national integration. If the Chinese and Indians would have taken the MTL policy badly and protest strongly, the situation could become ugly. Thank god that the MTL issue has subsided and is now part and parcel of life here. There are still problems and are being sorted out. For the Chinese, dialects are disappearing with the passing of the grandpas and grandmas and the younger breed are now speaking English and Mandarin. The new citizens from China would only have to struggle with English. I am not too familiar with the situation among the Indians. Tamil is not the only dialect that is being used at home. Now with the influx of the Northern Indians, there may be contention for the recognition of other Indian languages other than Tamil. This could present another situation as more non Tamil speakers become citizens. The situation among the Malays should be fairly the same then and now.


agongkia said...

That is why I always says that how I wish I could be in the minority group.
Mandarin to me is a language for the Chinese but I dun agree it should be call MTL.
My MTL is always HOKKIEN and to be perfect,HOKKIEN CHAWAN.
We should stop telling others what language to learn.Let our new generation decide,whether they want to call themselves AngMor tan or Siaseesiasuay lim is up to them.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi agongkia, chawan is well known for fiesty women. I am zhangpu hokien.

Wally Buffet said...

"Feisty" means what ah?

Easily offended?

Ah gong is one of the most benign commentators I've encountered.

Wally Buffet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wally Buffet said...

Those opting for Hobson's choice don't know what they have missed.

Han Chinese is the next world language next to English. With an effective command of both, one can travel the length and breadth of the world and be understood.

The MM was a wise and forward looking visionary with this mother tongue policy. Now, my children and all my grandchildren are effectively bilingual.

Hehe. :o)

Matilah_Singapura said...

> As a group, the Chinese was the worst affected group by the Mother Tongue Language policy. <

To put it mildly, of course.

This is one of the most disgusting examples of racial discrimination/ group-directed bigotry, total government control and imposed slavery I've ever come across.

To make matters worse, way back when a well-known Peranakan figure complained about this, he received death threats and verbal abuse/ harassment.

Language goes much deeper than people normally think. It is wedded to culture, history, tradition and forms part of an individual's identity, and also "defines" a relationship they have with their cultural ethnic community.

When you wipe out a language, you nearly kill the culture. That is what the PAP did -- they nearly killed off the dialects,and with that the culture like opera, literature, plays, movies, music.

Also govt interference with family life and dictating what language should be spoken, is definitely crossing the line of annoying govt interference to that of tyranny.

Like regular exercise and sensible eating, learning Mandarin is probably a good idea. Luckily, the govt has yet to force us to exercise and eat properly -- at least for the time being.

How come S'pore (and Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan) was doing ok before this forced language policy? even with all the dialect speaking going on, business was still being done, relationships were being formed and things were just moving along -- with no "central control" or any control for that matter.

Can you imagine the amount of political assassinations/ homicides if a party like the PAP tired to wipe out Cantonese and Hokkeien language in Hong Kong and Taiwan?

I am not Chinese by ethnicity, so it seems I don't have a dog in this fight. But I have witnessed with my own eyes my Peranakan and OBC (Overseas Born Chinese -- i.e. "westernised") being verbally insulted for not speaking Mandarin... and that, pisses me off.

In this instance, Fuck the PAP -- why no one was killed over this is a mystery to me.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

The Chinese are basically a very tolerant group. They have been oppressed for centuries and in many corners of the world, discriminated, abused and even slaughtered. They endured, tolerated and tried their best to adapt to the environment and conditions. They are survivals.

Also, many could also see the practical aspect of using Mandarin. The birth pain is over and the subsequent generations will find it easier. But there is a cost definitely. The culture of the dialect groups have to give way to facilitate communications among the different dialects and with the Chinese in China.

The Hongkongers and Taiwanese would slowly also learn to speak more Mandarin. The Europeans are also learning it and getting use to it.

You win some you lose some. I am not losing sleep over it. And I can emphatise with those struggling to cope with the language. I struggled too.

Matilah_Singapura said...

wally: I find it puzzling that you credit the MM with your kids linguistic abilities.

My nephews and nieces have never set foot outside the transit lounge in Changi airport. They were born and grew up here and have practically zero interest in Singapore. Yet they speak fluent Japanese, Mandarin and basic conversational Bahasa. No "wise dictator" like the god-presuming Lee Kuan Yew had anything to do with it.

Skin colour, culture and ethnicity these days has nothing whatsoever to do with what languages one learns. All languages are learned.

In the Old Change Alley traders there spoke many tongues: Russian, Japanese...you name it -- anything to do business. No one "forced" them to learn, certainly not a fucking control freak like Lee Kuan Yew.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> The Hongkongers and Taiwanese would slowly also learn to speak more Mandarin. The Europeans are also learning it and getting use to it. <

Exactly. No "policy" or central govt planning/ force required.

If people think they'd benefit, they usually take appropriate action to achieve the objective they'd benefit from -- if they want it bad enough, they'd put up with the sacrifices they alone CHOOSE TO make.

Lee Kuan Yews big mistake, and he is still making it, is that HE THINKS that he is the only one with a functioning brain and that everyone else needs to BE TOLD what the fuck to do.

What a wanker.

Wally Buffet said...


It is a truism that man learns a language other than one he is familiar with, for a purpose.

My children and grandchildren communicates in English at home and one can say that we are a so called "westernised" family albeit living in Sinkapoore. Now, if they were not "forced" to take up Han Chinese in school and be like their competitive peers, I really doubt that they would have mastered the language the way they did.

One of my sons is now in Beijing negotiating with Chinese officials. If they were deficient in the language, I doubt the trip's outcome would be successful.

Meeting the average Hong Kongers nowadays, more mandarin is spoken instead of Cantonese. Likewise for the Taiwanese, mandarin in place of Min Nan(hokien).

Matilah_Singapura said...

AFAIK, thanks to education and a national respect learning and improving, most English-speaking S'pore families regardless of ethnicity are "westernised" - I use the term here in the existential sense -- i.e. the respect for individuality, reason and objective reality as contrasted to blind obedience to a patriarch/ matriarch/ tradition or mysticism.

Singapore in itself, is the most "westernised"/ "globalised" country in Asia -- bar none. You go downtown -- if you ignored the weather, you could be in any chic European or North American city -- that is assuming N America has "chic" cities ;-)

Fuck me, if you wanted an "Asian experience" in Singapore, you would have to pay money and book a tour (or pay $30-40 for "authentic" chicken rice at The Mandarin). The "Asian-ness" in Singapore is fast becoming a cultural oddity, even the locals don't care for it too much anymore -- with the exception of a few fixtures like language patterns and food -- but even those are slowly changing.

Seems to me that the situation in your family needed no "central control" to be achieved. I extend that argument to ALL families and ALL individuals in Singapore.

Anyway, my point was that Lee KY made a BIG ERROR in deciding to FORCE Mandarin onto the Chinese population in Singapore, and to "preserve" and perpetuate control-freak Confucianist doctrine that what the govt says and implements is THE TRUTH and is not to be challenged.


Matilah_Singapura said...

Chinese Gals in order of "feisty-ness" - as observed by a hard-lovin former heavy-drinkin' Pan-Asian male

Top spot: shared by 2 groups of women (don't pray-pray):

1. Peranakan and Cantonese

Velvet-glove specialist (use feminine charm, and gentleness) -- you won't even know you've been manipulated:

2. Teochew

Direct, to the point, no nonsense business - "I know what I want":

3. Hokkeien

Friendly and charming, fun loving -- all used to cleverly cloak ambition and sheer drive:

4. Shanghainese

But in general, all the Chinese gals I know and have known are simply gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

'Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder'.

I find the Kazahk Girls the most beautiful, but, they never won a world title. The other races have outstanding beauties too.

Converting oneself is never the deed of another party, as the saying goes; one can bring the horse to the water but, cannot force it to drink. Please dont blame others for ones' own weak spirit to stand fast to princile.

So much grouses from intellectuals, any dare to step up to be counted?

Matilah_Singapura said...

anon, I was referring to the quality of "fiesty-ness".

However if you are raising the issue of "beauty" that is completely another issue altogether, and I agree - beauty is in the cock-eyes of the beholder.

1st Place
For the sheer aesthetic quality of "female PHYSICAL beauty" for me it is - as a generalisation women of Slavic descent: Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Slovak, Czech, Slovene, Belorussian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian etc.

2nd Place Latin Women - especially Brazilian

Wally Buffet said...

For me, a woman of beauty is one that ages like vintage wine.

The more mature she becomes, the more womanly and alluring, classy she is.

I am afraid that the Latinas you proffered would look like oil drums once she approaches the age of thirty or when having given birth, whichever comes first. And this goes for Caucasian women as well.

For the Emporer of Lijiang, nothing lesser than Chinese beauties of distinction would suffice!

Haha. :o))

Anonymous said...

"the Chinese was the worst affected group by the Mother Tongue Language policy", unquote.

It is because they are willing victims, they allowed themselves to be brainwashed, in short, they sell their own souls for pragmatism and rot their roots in the process. Realistic, pragmatic and materialistic Race.

Matilah_Singapura said...


Like I said before, I am alluding to PHYSICAL beauty -- the raw aesthetics of female form.

I am aware that it doesn't last -- I'm not interested in that aspect. I am merely discussing PHYSICAL BEAUTY -- not "spiritual" or "internal" beauty or "nice personality" waffly "lets-pretend-to-be-polite" stuff.

PHYSICAL beauty is genetic -- i.e. there is nothing you can do if the lass ain't got it from nature. The maintenance of physical beauty is a 50-50 shot -- the gals have to look after themselves to try as far as possible to avert the "oil drum" syndrome, and hope that their "good looking" genes hold out for as long as possible.

For me, I wasn't so lucky, so I've had to make up the "physical deficiency" by developing my wit, repartee and "Nice personality".

Physically attractive women look great as trophies and spectacular when they're having sex, especially when the middle aged balding and slightly wrinkly dude in the picture is ME!

As shallow and chauvinistic that it sounds, I fucking like it! :-)

Anonymous said...

The pragmatism of the Chinese allows them to survive anywhere they go. They depend on themselves and hard work to earn a decent living. They don't depend on wishy washy religion or God to help them. Yes they do pray, but still know that they must work for it. They don't cry for help or waiting for handouts. They don't blame others for their own failures.

And they are successful.

Anonymous said...

Overselling ones' soul and integrity makes one a traitor.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi, I look at the Chinese as very practical people, a little bit god fearing, but secular. Everyone needs to live and make the best out of one's short existence on this planet. They want to work and and live well as long as what they are doing are ethically and morally acceptable, not hurting others.

Living well spiritually and materially are not exclusive. I don't see how being practical, learning a language that is useful is considered a traitor. In this case, Mandarin is still a Chinese language.

The westerners must be traitors if they learn Chinese? Or the SE Asians are traitors because they learn Arabic and wanted to look and dress like Arabs?

We should not take things so seriously as to use terms like traitors. How should one called the babas who gave up their own language for another language, or many Singaporeans giving up their MTL for English? The Indians' official language is English. Is that worst?

For ethnic pride, one may want to retain some of one's culture and identity. But to learn something else, especially a language to better one's chances of living better, why not?

Are the Chinese selling their souls and integrity by learning another Chinese dialect called Mandarin? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

How about working for the public enemy, the jepanese in ww two, who tortured and killed people particularly of your own race?

agongkia said...

Wow. Mr Bean,you also know ah.
It's a normal comment to say CHAWAN women Chia peh peh.Even the women themselves admit that and dun feel offended on that remark.Fierce but hardworking and good debater.
My behavior do not represent the CHAWAN but I feel that people like me tend to talk too direct,sometime blunt and a bit too loud thus appear to be rude and offensive.What to do?born like that mah.My apology if I offended anyone here.
But I am not alone,from reading and my special sense,someone here talk like me.I think there should be another CHAWAN here.hehe..

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi agongkia,

Chawan chia applicable to the womanfolks only. Never heard of Chawan chai cha poh, only chia cha bo: )

They are noted for being aggressive. Can be positive too.

Anonymous said...

The Cheowan ladies are simple and hardworking folks, the manfolks too are simple and straight, no carrying balls and not ambitious. Simplicity is the beauty of this tribe, seldom compete with others, easily contented..

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

My reply to anon 5:48.

How about leaders selling the whole country out to colonialists without a fight?

When the Japanese invaded Malaya and Singapore, some did not put up any resistance to the Japanese at all. When the enemies were invading the country, they did not seem to mine and even work with the Japanese. I am not referring of one or two individuals. Traitors at a national scale? No?

Anonymous said...

Mr Bean, are You not referring to the mostly and majority Chinese inhabitants in Sin? Or are there other example(s)?

Matilah_Singapura said...


That's because too many people (sheeple) believe in the idea of 'leaders'.

The people get the govt they deserve.

'Leaders' are just people too -- if they can be swayed enough, they will act corruptly, and sell out * anything * for personal gain -- their mothers, their children... so what's so surprising about selling out an entire cuntry?

Marcos, Suharto, Pinochet etc -- all "friends" of Washington, who has the 'authority; to use tax payer money to buy out entire cuntries.

Geo Politics bro' - real politik

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Anon 3:28,

Our history books told us who were the reistance fighters against the Japs when they invaded SE Asia. The Indonesians fought the Dutch. But who fought the Portuguese and the British? Can't remember anyone did.

Anonymous said...

The British was welcomed with open arms by the local inhabitants. The traitors were during the Japanese Occupation not the British who bought Singapore from the Malay Rulers in Malaya. The British provided trades and occupations for the locals, only the Jeps tortured an killed mainly the Chinese.

Anonymous said...

In fact, the S E Asians should be grateful that the Angmos actually fought the Jeps more than the locals were able to. The Angmos had the fire power whereas the local then had to depend on machete, chankul, 'piantian'(wooden pole placed on shoulders to carry two baskets at each end) and whatever sharp objects made from wood and metal.
The Chinese inhabitants in S E Asian during the Japanese Occupation should be grateful to the British.
Some old Chinese in Singapore still avoid buying Jepanese made goods.

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