When the final crumbs of your pineapple tarts are fully digested in your bulging stomach, let me reassure your that you are still are full blooded chinese that still respect and practice chinese traditons. With all the stupid comments in the newspapers about Singaporeans being not chinese enough just because the students are taking chinese "B", you can be forgiven if you suddenly find yourself feeling very alien towards your own race.
What makes one a chinese? I am not too sure now. I mean, we are yellow-skinned, speak a splatter of our own dialect, have beady eyes, speak a decent amount of mandarin but yet we are not considered chinese.
The newspapers are full of crap talking about how we are fast losing our culture and the Gen Y will eventually turn out to be a group of "chinese by birth but not chinese in life". This has no doubt cast a huge blanket of worry over the heads in the respective Chinese Clans, Chan Soo Sen in particular.
Furthermore, with the government allowing the Gen Y to have an option to withdraw altogether from taking the supposed Chinese " A" syallbus and allowing them to take the easier route of Chinese "B", the "chinese" in most of us would eventually erode away.
But really, does anyone really care if you are a modern chinese that live and talk the way of our western counterparts? After all, for all our schooling life, we have been taught the way of the westerners. We learn english, speak english during lessons and have that language as our medium of instruction. Chinese is JUST one book and we speak it only casually. After all, we can't use it too often all you could be accused of stirring up racial disharmony because all the indians and malays just would never understand you. So on one hand we try to preserve the racial harmony of the various races here and on the other we are complaining about the lack of interest in mandarin within the chinese community.
Life is such that we only attempt to excel in it if there is a certain use of that skill. In this case, mandarin is of not much use here in our daily life relative to that of the english language. Come on, we have to pass english at O levels to go for any further studies. In most colleges, if one was to fail GP, we will end up repeating a year. But mandarin? I last remembered skipping all the lessons and moving on to the next year.
We would never use the countless idioms that we learn during chinese classes. We don't talk that way. Even the very "cina" people here also speak just passable mandarin. Try speaking with a Beijing accent with a sentence full of idioms and you will only get a reply of "Huh? le kong simi?" (huh? what you talking about.)
So with all the talk of China being a rising dragon and we needing to learn mandarin quickly and properly so as to do business with then is all just a weak excuse from all the chinese clans here. Even if we all could speak mandarin with a Beijing accent and spout those extra-long but meaningless idioms, we still would fail in our business ventures with them. Why? The Chinese(people in China) complained that we are too direct and too frank and lack the ability to discern nuances. So instead of trying like mad to learn mandarin, why not try and learn how to improve our snobbish behaviour and loud mouth?
The people in charge must understand the situation at home, here in Singapore. I mean, an average household that is struggling to get on with their lives daily would never give a damn about stupid China ventures. They just want to study hard and get a good life in the future. Our use of mandarin here is just to "show off" to our own chinese friends. Or in several factions, they claim that speaking mandarin symbolises that lower class group. With this mentality in mind, you tell me, who on earth want to master their mandarin?