── Ho Bee Choo ──
I READ Ms Clarissa Oon's commentary on Monday, 'English home, Chinese class', with applause. Although from a Peranakan background, she had the perseverance to learn and master Chinese. Her commentary so inspired my friend that she is to withdraw her planned migration to the United States with her family on account of her children's struggle to learn Chinese.
About 40 years ago, there was a brain drain of Nanyang University graduates from Singapore. It should be noted that all along, there was an influx of good Malaysian Cambridge certificate students (the cream of Chinese-educated from Malaysia) enrolled at Nantah. Due to various circumstances, many left Singapore and obtained master's or doctorate degrees overseas. It is a pity that Singapore lost these bright and talented people.
When I was in Nantah in the early 1970s, my Singaporean classmates were the children or grandchildren of first generation migrants. They were the descendants of towkays as well as trishaw pullers, people from all walks of life.
Many of my Nantah contemporaries also came from Indonesia, Taiwan and Malaysia. Three Indonesian classmates now run large conglomerates. Our class monitor is now the CEO of Shanghai Underwater World Museum. A classmate is a partner in the Shenzhen water purification project and another owns a successful international investment company. The Chinese-educated in my generation have done well.
Learning Chinese is no more a chore than learning English was to many Chinese-speaking families like mine. A second language is a great asset, a door to wider business, social and cultural opportunities, and we should strive for it.
One should not migrate out of dislike or difficulties in learning Chinese. Many young Singaporeans who studied in overseas universities actually discover their Asian roots there and realise how attached they are to their country and culture when living abroad. They are proud to know Chinese and be able to communicate in Chinese with Chinese students elsewhere.
Many foreigners are now keen to move to Singapore and make their home here. Many of them and their children are already learning Chinese. Do not leave Singapore just because of a second language.
【原载 2010-1-15 海峡时报论坛(ST Forum)】
2010年1月15日首版 Created on January 15, 2010
2010年1月15日改版 Last updated on January 15, 2010