A national identity is a person’s identity and sense of belonging to a state or to a nation, a feeling which one shares with a group of people, regardless of one’s citizenship status. It is a sense of emotional attachment and as feelings are something that cannot be forced and created by the state but instead must be what an individual truly feels. Hence, as the sense of attachment is created by the people and not the state, I disagree that the Singapore National Identity is created by the state.
To create a national identity for Singapore, policies had been imposed by the government, an example of which is the education policy. The education policy ensures that everyone, regardless of race and religion, has the same curriculum. This policy is the effort made by the government to ensure that everyone is banded together by a common item regardless of the multiracial society, starting from as young as toddler age, when parents start sending their kids to classes. The government has also enforced the ethnic quota in HDBs such that there would be interaction between different ethnic groups, whereby everyone would be bound together by something similar and not just according to race or religion.
The government has also allocated funds for national celebrations such as Chinggay and National Day to instill in Singaporeans a sense of pride. Singaporeans are also engaged to participate in the mass dances organised at those events and interact with fellow Singaporeans to further create a sense of belonging. While the government provides the place for interaction, the people are the ones who have to make an initiative to break the boundary between the different ethnic groups for the government’s effort to not be in vain as well as to craft out an unique national identity for themselves.
An example of such a national identity that depends on the individual’s cooperation is the creation of the national flag and anthem. It is the citizen’s responsibility to uphold the honor of the national flag and anthem, and with their cooperation, make it a proud national identity as the government could only help in providing the platform and could not force its ideals onto the people.
Also, the national flag and anthem are symbols which every country has, while the national identity is something different and more personal, which could only be crafted through an individual and not the state. Hence, the national identity is essentially what an individual feels, like a sense of belonging, to a place, which could not be imposed onto them by the government. It can be further seen that the government does not create the national identity as the younger generation of Singapore have a diluting sense of belonging to Singapore. An example of this is that the national day songs released in the recent years are no longer binding as many citizens together as in the past.
This may be a result of the younger generation not being able to relate to the song lyrics, and hence not feeling as much sense of belonging when they hear the song. Another example is that the national day and chinggay celebrations do not gather as much support from the younger generation as time passes, where they feel like each year, the same thing is repeated and that there is nothing worth watching anymore. This shows that they are only after the new and interesting.
It implies that they do not feel a sense of belonging when looking at the common things which Singaporeans share regardless of age, race or religion like our common history which are portrayed yearly in national day celebrations. Hence, it could be seen that the national identity is actually dependent on the mindset of the individual and how they view the events whereby the state is only providing a place in which to showcase the common identities to invoke in us a sense of belonging and deepen the national identity which we share.
Also, it could be seen that the government does not create the national identity as the government is risking it to further economic development. Locals commonly speak Singlish but the government is encouraging the change to English, whereby English is a global language, thus promoting globalisation instead of nationalism. Although English is a language that would help us in achieving more, Singlish what Singaporeans are commonly recognised by. By changing the language which marks us as Singaporeans, the government is not placing nationalism on a high priority, showing that the government is willing to risk losing our most prominent identity to generate a better economy.
As one would not be willing to risk one’s hard work for the sake of generating more money, the state is thus not the creator of the national identity. In conclusion, national identity is created by the people rather than the state as the state only provides a platform through policies implements and national events for the people to interact and know each other better but the people are the ones who have to cooperate and take the initiative to interact with the different ethnic groups in the Singapore society.
Also, as national identity is a sense of attachment which could not be created and forced upon the people as seen through the diluting sense of belonging the younger generation feel at national day celebrations and the singing of the national day songs. In addition, the national identity is risked by the state to boost the economy, which shows that the state is not the creator of the national identity as the creator would never let his hard work go to waste just for monetary purposes. Hence, the national identity is created by the people with the help of the state to provide a platform to promote and enhance the national identities created by the people. Word count: 992.