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Singaporean Identity Essay

Singaporean Identity Essay

In this Singapore Identity Essay, we will discuss the What is the Singapore Identity?, Why is national identity important in Singapore?, How is national identity expressed in Singapore?, Singapore national identity crisis, Loss of Singaporean identity, Is Singapore’s identityless clear today? etc.

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Introduction- Singaporean Identity Essay

Singapore, one of the most globalized nations in history and today is on a quest to find its own national identity. This comes from not having much-recorded data about Singaporean Identity past due to it being established as an independent nation only around 50 years ago.

The government’s proactive stance has been through forging a “national myth” that depicts Singapore’s transformation over time into becoming first world Republic with globalization acting as a catalyst for this metamorphosis which was headed by: establishing the English language; building up economic partnerships globally such as China, India, etc.; providing affordable housing facilities (i.e., HDB or Housing Development Board); emphasizing education system based upon meritocracy principles; investing heavily in public healthcare care via Mandated Medical Insurance Scheme (i.e., Medishield); and actively pursuing the “Four Asian Tigers” model of economic development via knowledge-intensive industries (i.e., IT, Biotech, etc.).

Main body- Singaporean Identity Essay

What is the Singapore Identity?

The traditional Singaporean identity, a concept developed in the 1970s when Singapore was independent, is based on three main identities. These were the Asian-Malay majority and their historical roots in Southeast Asia, the Chinese minority and their links to China and trade with neighboring regions, as well as island living. From these communities has emerged a shared language, religion (mostly Mahayana Buddhism), social norms including values around family life, gender equality, and respect for elders. Emerging from these social and cultural threads comes an identity that can be expressed typically with three words: One people; one nation; a benevolent society.

Read this: Singapore Public Policy Reflection Paper

Why is national identity important in Singapore?

National identity is an important factor in Singapore because 95% of its population are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. This means a connection to common ancestry, and having that in turn further connect you to your broader family origin, place of birth, or ethnicity is lost for most people. For this reason, some people may find it more convenient to classify themselves by purely political terms such as citizenhood rather than race.

Another thing that makes national identity important is because there are 3 ethnic groups with cultural differences and 2 religions with different beliefs. The government has made efforts over the years in order to limit religious violence which can get out of hand very quickly due to these preexisting tensions; therefore they started many programs dedicated to building community cohesion.

How is national identity expressed in Singapore?

The national identity in Singapore is expressed through its people, language, buildings, and history.

The national identity in Singapore can be seen from witnessing the presence of Chinese culture throughout the island. This is exemplified by the many traditional Chinese temples (like Jiou Lian Gong) and markets scattered across the country.

Moreover, foreigners residing within Singaporean experience a definite culture shock when they arrive for the first time. For instance, over half of today’s population speaks Singlish as its first language (a mix of Malay or Tamil with English and Mandarin), while usage of Hokkien or Cantonese can still be observed in certain Chinatowns around town.

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Singapore national identity crisis

The Singaporean identity crisis is a problem with the role of different ethnicities in modern Singapore. The three main ethnic groups in Singapore are Malays, Chinese, and Indians. There is a lot of religious diversity as well with other religions such as Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist minorities. As the country has progressed, some see that the culture needs to merge for all to feel invited.

There have been discussions on whether there should be one or more names attached to the country instead of just being called “Singapore”. This would give a clear distinction between geographical location and nationality which can be easier to identify with for its citizens. It would also lead to less confusion when they talk about themselves or their country abroad. One suggested name is “Sri Senpaguru”.

For those who have a more casual approach to their culture, the Singaporean identity crisis is not something that they are worried about. They see themselves as an individual and not as part of any larger group or nationality.

Loss of Singaporean identity

In recent times, many Singaporeans have lost sight of the qualities that make them distinctively Singaporean and, secondly, have come to neglect many traditional aspects and moves which demonstrated their pre-1965 culture (think of this second point as fostered by “buay bai”). This has resulted predominantly from Westernisation and East Asian postmodernity.

There is a perception that certain aspects considered uniquely imperia such as encouraging initiative are now disparaged or deemed anti-social. And yet it was pressure coming from conservative traditionalists themselves who made appeals for increased individuality in our present modern society so more new people could be creative in their work.

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Is Singapore’s identityless clear today?

Yes. Every country has a different identity, but the world is starkly polarized today.

Singapore’s identity was forged in the aftermath of World War II and it was decided that there should be no “religion” per se, just culture with an emphasis on Chinese culture.

The world has changed drastically since then and Singaporean need to take a step back and look at that new reality for their people, the building blocks of its heritage which reflect both of her parents – Malaysia and China. Maybe we are starting to let our roots deepen again?

Hopefully, more festivals celebrating our local cuisine will help build a stronger sense of national identity in Singaporeans once again.”


Singaporeans need to be more aware of their identity. It is important for us, as a nation, to appreciate our culture and heritage while also embracing new things that make sense in the globalized world we live in today. The government has put certain measures in place which are helping with this transition but it is up to each individual person to do their part too.

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