Category: Nationally Speaking

Bazaars: Are They Worth the Buzz?

By Chloe Wong (19S07C), Isabelle Tan (19S03S), and Vanessa Lur (19S06Q)
Photograph courtesy of

It is a regular hot afternoon in Singapore and we find ourselves doing something not-so-regular—visiting the bazaar. The crowd is overwhelming and we find ourselves being shoved around by people all around us. As we wipe away the sweat trickling down our necks, we can’t help but wonder how bizarre it is that more and more teenagers are willing to endure a good few hours pushing through crowds just for a bazaar. This brings us to the question at hand—what exactly is so enticing about these bazaars?

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It’s the Simple Things We Forget

By Mr. Christopher Selvaraj from the KS Department
Cover photo by Differantly, a Paris/Berlin-based artist duo

These can be challenging times to think through the state of race relations in Singapore. Growing sensitivities to micro-aggressions and unconscious biases, racial privilege and cultural appropriation, reductive representations and linguistic assault, among other things, have made for a brew of simmering discontent that periodically spills out into our collective consciousness. These are complicated times – and it can seem simpler to sit and watch the waters swell.

So it was with great interest that I read Is Appreciation Enough?” by Phang Yeu Yeou and Loh Lin, and On Racism and Chinese Privilege” by Soh Ying Qi, a couplet of two recent thoughtful commentaries that set out to carefully consider racial harmony and race relations in Singapore. Both pieces reflect authors keen and willing to lay out the depth, complexity, and nuance of race relations. Both pieces reflect authors grappling with an important question: Are we doing enough to weave solidarity and community from the threads of diversity in which we find ourselves entangled? In both pieces, the answer to this question is “no”.

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What’s in a Home?

By Sarah Chen (19S03C)

Without fail, every 9th of August brings with it a sudden burst of patriotism in Singaporeans, me included. It’s both heartwarming and odd — something that can only be witnessed on this one day. As suddenly as this pride arrives, it leaves, and I am left questioning how genuine all this patriotism really is.

A while back, I watched a film called Ladybird. The protagonist of the film in question was a girl in high school, on the cusp of young adulthood, dreaming of leaving her hometown for greater places. As she spent the majority of the film cursing every single aspect of her hometown, I saw in her not just myself, but many other Singaporean teenagers.

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On Racism and Chinese Privilege

By Soh Ying Qi (18A01C)

It’s safe to say that this is not a safe topic.

(The preceding sentence, ironically, may be the only one in this article that’s truly uncontroversial.)

It’s nebulous and complicated and resistant to simplification. It’s hard to discuss sensitively, and even harder to discuss meaningfully. Basically: the odds were stacked against it from the beginning.

So this article won’t change the world. It might not even change your mind. But at the very least, it’ll probably change the way you view “race”, for better or for worse.

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Is Appreciation Enough?

By Phang Yeu Yeou (19A01A) and Loh Lin (19A01D)

Wait. Before you continue scrolling, we know. We know that race as a topic has already been discussed to death, in conversations and lectures and forums alike. Nonetheless, the shoulds and shouldn’ts of tackling such discourse continue to confound us, even as we turn away from it, thinking: What more is there to discuss that hasn’t already been said?

After all, 54 years on from the racial riots that left an indelible footprint in our history—in bloodshed and in policy—racism in Singapore seems by and large a thing of the past. Indeed, today people of all races coexist peaceably in classrooms, offices, and shared public spaces. Long-term governmental policies and a consistent multicultural narrative have gone a long way towards easing the hostilities and divisiveness that once defined race relations. Yet, when we reduce acts of racism to just these overt indicators, we risk turning a blind eye to the more implicit tensions that continue to underscore our interactions.

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