This proposal has no practical effect on Singapore’s various ethnic groups, but it may leave a bad taste in the mouths of those who are not fluent in English or who have suffered from their lack of proficiency in the past.
We once tried to design a national costume for Singapore, but it ultimately fell through. Some patriotic songs can only be performed during National Day celebrations. Singaporeans can live together in harmony, not by relying on ideology, but by sharing common values, namely respect and tolerance.
Everyone lived together, learned about each other’s cultures and religious beliefs, and respected each other’s differences.
Our multicultural society was formed in this way. There is no such thing as who assimilates into whom. We not only respect the right of each ethnic group to maintain its own unique language and culture but also accept each other with an attitude of tolerance.
Does knowing English make it easier to find a job? It was because I knew Mandarin that I was able to find a job more quickly at a multinational company that was interested in developing in China in the 1980s.
China is now the world’s second-largest economy, and the economies of India and Indonesia are also expanding, so not speaking English does not necessarily mean you cannot find a job. The relative importance of Mandarin, Malay, and Indonesian is also increasing.
Whenever foreigners watch Singapore’s National Day Parade, they admire our Prime Minister’s ability to speak in three languages.
What they see is the influence of multiple languages, what they hear is the government’s forward-looking strategy for the country, and what they feel is the country’s appreciation of its diverse ethnic groups.
Anyone who works, plays, or even settles in Singapore knows how convenient it is to speak English here, but Singapore is not Britain, the United States, or Australia. Not speaking English is not an option.
All of this requires us to uphold the values of respect and tolerance. Simply testing language proficiency in any language to achieve social integration is likely to cause unnecessary misunderstandings and is therefore unnecessary.