Tan Bah Bah – talking sense and nonsense

Desinicise Singapore, speak Bahasa and be more Asean, this is the heading of a ‘sense and nonsense’ post by Tan Bah Bah in theindependent. I am not sure whether he is saying he is talking sense or nonsense. The gist of his article is that Singapore must speak more Bahasa and be more like Asean. I am not sure if Asean means more Bahasa from Singapore’s frog in the well perspective or a baba’s perspective. Out of the 10 countries in Asean, only 3 countries speak Bahasa, ie Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. There are Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines that have their own national languages and are proud of their own languages and cultures. Would they want to speak more Bahasa to be more Asean, presuming that Bahasa is Asean?

Historically, the development of civilization is about survival of the fittest. When the Mongols and Manchus conquered and ruled over China, they tried to impose their culture and language on the Chinese. They failed and eventually embraced the Chinese culture and language. What is the moral of these two stories?
When the Europeans invaded and conquered North America, they did not try to be more Red Indians and to speak more Red Indian language. They made their languages, especially English the lingua franca of the USA. OK, this story is quite different as they terminated and ‘genocided’ the Red Indians to near extinction and became irrelevant as a civilization.

The rest of the world, especially the third world less developed countries, embraced English with gusto. Singapore is an exception as the migrants have very shallow roots and are very willing to discard their own culture and language, especially the babas, to take on a different personality and identity. The fact that China and the Chinese Civilisation were in eclipse, conquered and devastated by the West, with China becoming a bankrupt and pariah country, helped these babas to want to dissociate themselves from being Chinese more willingly, just like duckweeds. Duckweeds have short roots and would change their roots quite easily.

The English language triumphed and became the major commercial and national language in Singapore and also in India and many other countries. There is no denying that the Europeans, represented by the English Empire and the English language, were superior, modern and advanced in areas of science and technology, the arts, medicine, in govt etc etc. A useful and progressive language would always be attractive to the progressive who want to learn a foreign language. But many newly independent countries proud of their own nationalities and cultures, chose to abandon the English language to promote the use of their own languages. That is why within Asean, every state has its own national language while English is still promoted in some way as an international language of commerce.

Would the rest of the Asean countries be willing to want to learn a third language like the Bahasa for greater Asean identity? Would they be willing to put in the effort and would they be able to cope with this additional task of learning another language that is less functional and not really a commercial regional language, definitely not an international language? Singaporeans, the Chinese and especially the babas, could not even cope with learning the Chinese language that is culturally and intrinsically Chinese, but they could cope with Bahasa just to be more Asean from the perspective of a frog in a well?

By the way, Singapore has been trying to be more Asean at least in the choice of a national dress. Ong Teng Chuan tried to introduce the orchid shirt but it faded away. Singapore’s national dress is the national dress of Asean. Wherever our leaders go, they will wear the national dress of that particular Asean country. When they visit Malaysia and Indonesia, they will wear batik. When they visit the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand etc, they would choose their respective national dress. This is Singapore’s first step to desinicise and become more Asean.

Is Tan Bah Bah’s proposal making sense or is he talking nonsense?


Anonymous said...

Why would Asean countries want to adopt and learn a non progressive and backward language used by two countries when time is better spent learning English or Chinese?

Learning English can speak to the rest of the world. Learning Chinese can speak to more than 1.4b people in the world and could facilitate doing business in China?

Anonymous said...

I will stick to my Teo Chew . . .

Titiana Ann Xavier said...

ASEAN is a smorgasbord of different cultures and languages. Instead of imposing on one another, it is better to pursue unity in diversity. The Theory of Evolution can be applied to cultures and languages. The fittest survive. The universal use of English is due to imperialism and colonialism. Science and technology play their parts too. In future, mandarin will be used universally as China overtakes Uncle Sam and becomes a world leader.

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

@ "speak like a normal local"

This cat doesn't understand how cultures and languages evolve, because they are "living"---in the sense that living people interacting with one another keep cultures and languages going, and changing.

If I'm not mistaken, Singlish---the lingua franca of a true-blue, Straits-born Singaporean---is a recognised "pidgin". Singlish is essentially English, but given more dimensionality by the incorporation of words from Chinese, Malay, Indian, even Semetic languages etc. as a result of contact with other cultures primarily due to trade.

This part of the world is not just multiracial/ multicultural but its inhabitants tend to speak more than one language or dialect.

Decades ago the PAP tried to "outlaw" Chinese dialects, and suffered a well-deserved blowback from the population, who collectively told the govt to Go fuck themselves.

Similarly, if some internet joker tells us how we should be speaking, they can go and get fucked as well.

Anonymous said...

I studied Bahasa till o level but due to non usage over a Long period of time, I have given back 99% LiaoπŸ˜€

Ⓜatilah $ingapura⚠️ said...

@ "red blooded horny bros"

However...there is one excellent reason to speak Bahasa: seducing the local lasses. Many Indonesian women are gorgeous, and they love sex. In fact, they take local herbal mixtures (aka "jamu") to maintain their attractiveness and to keep their "lady-bits" (aka "puki") in tip-top performance conditions.

Being able to converse in Bahasa...even badly wins you points with the women, who will laugh as you butcher their language, but appreciate you making the effort. Chicks love it when men try to impress them...it makes them feel special, and desired. If she likes you because you made her feel special, chances are your hard cock will not be lonely.

Speak bahasa, get your cock sucked and bang your brains out.

Majulah. Mari-lah kita ber-screw πŸ€£πŸ€“πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¬

Advente said...

Tan Baba's articles are always written with a twist and a slant. Read his article a second time and you will realise that he is directing an insult ir a joke at someone else, who must have recently made a stupid statement or something over the line of sense and reason.

He is quite a witty fellow.

Advente said...

Tan Baba's (Bah Bah) articles are always written with a twist and a slant.

Read his article a second time and you will realise that he is directing an insult or a joke at someone else, who must have recently made a stupid public statement or something over the line of sense and reason.

He is quite an easy-going, politely cheeky and witty fellow. We did NS together.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Agree, that's why he used the phrase 'sense and nonsense' and up to the readers to figure out.

Anonymous said...

Cannot talk straight for ex or establishment men. If not can kena marked. Or even sue until pants drop or all govt related appts asked to resign. Lim ex top civil serpent has to used "Honor" them. P Yeo...has to promote " maverick" against eunuchs. Ngiam most daring n asked to shut his mouth.
As for "bahasa" practical use for doctors n private bankers if your patients n clients from bahasa countries. No need force leh...they follow the money n clients interests n perferences leh.

Anonymous said...

Matilah u are testorones driven! Good day.

Anonymous said...

"China’s ascendancy has been thwarted for two centuries by colonial humiliation, and cannot be further blocked." - Ho Kwon Ping, SCMP Nov. 13.

So, instead of de-sinicization or Indianization of Singapore (via CECA), we should do the opposite and go along with the global mega trend.

Read more at https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/united-states/article/2172778/how-singapore-can-play-crucial-role-emerging

Anonymous said...

Singapore economic strategy should have been helped China Big Tech in the "English" markets, just like 50 yrs ago GKS US MNC strategy. But they missed. Our PM, scholars civil servant lords, ministers are too blur n not focused but busying fixing WP, fixing poor hawkers, fixing our NS boys, fixing the HBD bubble created by them, still fixing the SMRT courtesy of Hojinx good friend Saw, the salesgirl, fixing our citizens with more FTs, fixing our roads & trees with more digging n covering n digging n covering, fixing fake news to true news, ......in the meantime collect more n more dollars from citizens. N in meantime top investment manager Chin Ho is busy buying high, selling low.
Very busy fixing...until the Kra Canal get cut, n the city state is FIXED.

Anonymous said...

Matilar, u are right. Once one Indonesian karaoke girl with 34D tits use Bahasa to tell me can meet in my hotel room but I do not understand so miss the chance. I was focusing then to drink susu there. Only later my Indonesian Friend asked me why I was contended to drink susu only.

Unknown said...

Bah Bah black shit
Have you any stool
Yessir, yessir, you’re a bloody fool...

Unknown said...

Never did like those from the self-important baba community, an aberration of human genetics at best