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How do you define National Identity?

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guruvishwanath
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How do you define National Identity?

Postby guruvishwanath » Tue, 29 Aug 2006 3:24 pm

For the past few days, since the NDP '06, there has been various articles of nation building, and immigration. SOmewhere in the whole melee of discussions lay the definition of national identity. People wrote in the papers on considering Singapore as their home and having forged their career, relationships and friends, they consider this island as their home. Some also expressed views that although they may not relinquish their parent countries passport nee citizenship, they consider this country as thier own.

Many years ago, I asked a few local friends a simple question. "If a hostile nation decided to take pot shots at Singapore, where would he or she stand?" Suffice to say, majority said they will make a beeline out of this place. :o Which at that time shocked me! I mean, how could one abandon their homeland in times of crisis.

Over the years, I have come to realise that the view was not restricted to those select few I had posed the question and it came from a surprisingly cross section of society.

Now comes my subject for debate.

"How does one define national identity?"

Is it your home country where you were born, and bred? Is it the country where you migrated and lived for years to make your fortunes? Is it the country that has offered you shelter in times of need? Is it your family that makes you choose where your heart lies?

This is my take. And this is purely personal opinion and I would respective request folks to keep this debate as a hearty debate rather flame throwing sessions! :D

I am an Indian. I was born one and I will die as one. There is no denying that. I am a patriot too. If tomorrow, my country goes to war, I would seriously consider leaving everything and joining up to fight. I come from a nation which has a rich, vibrant, colourful heritage spanning 5000 years. Our history is sprinkled with events of invasions, strifes, struggles for independence. Our schooling ensured that our forefathers efforts did not go unnoticed.

But then I have lived in Singapore for more than 10 years. I came at the very beginning stages of my career. I made my career here. Made friends whom I can call family, contributed to society in my own little ways. And if tomorrow some hostile nation does take pot shots, I will, probably out of gratitude, stay back.

It does not mean that I consider Singapore as my nation or my roots. Its a place which gave me what I may not have been able to achieve elsewhere. Maybe I would have succeeded, I dont know! But I did not fail here. And that matters a lot.

Coming back to original query! A national identity is not taught but it is perceived. It is something that needs to be imbibed, embraced from a very young age. A sense of identity has to be forged which will make someone say "I am a Singaporean" not "I am a Singapore Chinese".

I would like to hear other points of view.

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Postby sunnyweather » Tue, 29 Aug 2006 8:02 pm

Interesting post! I will definitely be responding to it soon. NI is an extremely touchy subject and many lives have been sacrificed in the proccesses to retain it, that is, historically speaking. Afterall, what is more important than taking pride in your NI...Nothing. So, if someone does not define a persons in line with this then it is equally shamefyl and never nice.

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Re: How do you define National Identity?

Postby ksl » Thu, 31 Aug 2006 11:32 am

guruvishwanath wrote:For the past few days, since the NDP '06, there has been various articles of nation building, and immigration. SOmewhere in the whole melee of discussions lay the definition of national identity. People wrote in the papers on considering Singapore as their home and having forged their career, relationships and friends, they consider this island as their home. Some also expressed views that although they may not relinquish their parent countries passport nee citizenship, they consider this country as thier own.

Many years ago, I asked a few local friends a simple question. "If a hostile nation decided to take pot shots at Singapore, where would he or she stand?" Suffice to say, majority said they will make a beeline out of this place. :o Which at that time shocked me! I mean, how could one abandon their homeland in times of crisis.

Over the years, I have come to realise that the view was not restricted to those select few I had posed the question and it came from a surprisingly cross section of society.

Now comes my subject for debate.

"How does one define national identity?"

Is it your home country where you were born, and bred? Is it the country where you migrated and lived for years to make your fortunes? Is it the country that has offered you shelter in times of need? Is it your family that makes you choose where your heart lies?

This is my take. And this is purely personal opinion and I would respective request folks to keep this debate as a hearty debate rather flame throwing sessions! :D

I am an Indian. I was born one and I will die as one. There is no denying that. I am a patriot too. If tomorrow, my country goes to war, I would seriously consider leaving everything and joining up to fight. I come from a nation which has a rich, vibrant, colourful heritage spanning 5000 years. Our history is sprinkled with events of invasions, strifes, struggles for independence. Our schooling ensured that our forefathers efforts did not go unnoticed.

But then I have lived in Singapore for more than 10 years. I came at the very beginning stages of my career. I made my career here. Made friends whom I can call family, contributed to society in my own little ways. And if tomorrow some hostile nation does take pot shots, I will, probably out of gratitude, stay back.

It does not mean that I consider Singapore as my nation or my roots. Its a place which gave me what I may not have been able to achieve elsewhere. Maybe I would have succeeded, I dont know! But I did not fail here. And that matters a lot.

Coming back to original query! A national identity is not taught but it is perceived. It is something that needs to be imbibed, embraced from a very young age. A sense of identity has to be forged which will make someone say "I am a Singaporean" not "I am a Singapore Chinese".

I would like to hear other points of view.


In my opinion National Identity is a feeling of emotion, for belonging to a Country, to identify, with the masses. It's a very personal and complicated definition, yet I can define it only from my own opinion.

I can honestly say, that over the years of serving my Country, 12 years to be exact, and have lost many friends, that I cannot for the life of me, feel any national pride, I am quite ashamed of my Countrymen and the governments that have mislead, the Country over the last 40 years, is also a matter of opinion. But the Country goes backwards not forwards, which is a worrying fact. The Country is abused by many people, black, white and yellow, they rob and cheat the system, that was designed to help the weak, and give nothing back. it must stop!

The 23 years I lived in Denmark, a place that is close to my heart along with the people, is an emotion that I feel. I feel great respect for this Nation, that have developed a quality of life for their people, the people have been rewarded, through strong solidarity, and even though I could never be Danish in feeling, or voice. I would fight for that Country, it gave me education and democracy, but most of all respect as a person, with no class distinction.

I love England as a Country, but what I hate, is the lack of solidarity of its people, the masses are shit on, from high above, and the social disorder is beyond repair, I am totally ashamed, of the shocking sights that i see, of yobs hanging on street corners intimidating the older generation and yes maybe some of the kids are good.

But there is a total lack of parent control in the working class areas, that is quite worrying, when it pays to breed kids, and not work. The government welfare system is a mess.

It should be scrapped now! Respect for National Identity is very important, if you don't have respect, you will never fight for that Country.

Singapore deserves more from its people, but like all Countries, the abusers come, milk the system, and run. Singapore deserves more, from its residents, its done more for its people in 40 years, then The UK have done for its people in 200 years.

Even I would consider defending Singapore, because like my forefathers, we defend not only the Country, but its people. Some are born to fight, some are born to run, that is life in a nut shell.

National Identity should not be used has a judgemental scapegoat, and any government, that tries to sell, that philosophy, for a passport! needs to look again.

Full society integration is not possible, I believe Singapore is well aware of these facts, that is why they have a law to protect against racial remarks.,
But I will point out, that Singapore is well ahead of Africa, and its people should respect that.

It is not a pleasent feeling to feel British, and yet feel, that there are no British politicians, that want a better life for their people. solidarity is long gone, when the unions were destroyed back in Thatcher days, and the peoples people were bought out by Totalerism and redeployed on fat wages in the European Parliment.

Yet it doesn't destroy my National Identity all the shit that happens, I could have changed my passport long ago, but National Pride, even at its low will prevail

My own opinion, not based on political ambitions, because they all pee(edited) in the same pot! :P

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Postby renter » Thu, 31 Aug 2006 11:51 am

I observed one strange thing about Singaporeans.

When you talk about expatriates, foreigners, foreign talents(as called by the government) coming to Singapore, they tend to deject the idea and firmly believe that they are proud of their being Singaporeans. And they complain a lot about foreigners coming and leaving. On the other hand, when you talk about the life and work here, or something that the first post here mentioned, they will say they wanna migrate to somewhere else for better life and retirement.

And during a conversation some time ago with a local lady, she said that if she were a Malaysian, she would not take up the citizenship but rather remain as a PR to enjoy the best of both worlds. But if you read on the local newspaper comments, many writers, who I assume represent some portions of the population, are not happy that foreigners here remain as PR and don't convert to the citizens.

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Postby saturnia » Tue, 12 Sep 2006 12:40 pm

sunnyweather wrote:Interesting post! I will definitely be responding to it soon. NI is an extremely touchy subject and many lives have been sacrificed in the proccesses to retain it, that is, historically speaking. Afterall, what is more important than taking pride in your NI...Nothing. So, if someone does not define a persons in line with this then it is equally shamefyl and never nice.


I think you have completely misunderstood the question sunnyweather. Why shoukd it be a touchy subject? No one is under attack here.


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