Sunday, 7 November 2010

In response to an article by a2ed “In sum, singapore, the chinese, and the opposition. A personal journey.”

I recall a decade ago when Ed started talking about social political issues that came across as too radical to me as I could not understand his perspectives and thus thought he was too harsh in his comments. Back then I thought he had over-reacted (now I know that’s passion). I like all the other chinese, just turned a deaf ear and ‘switched off’ from the conversations, and all the other so-called chinese ‘friends’ also reacted the same way toward him. Without our realisation, we were forcing him to come down to our level, talked only the mundane issue or discussed politics at very superficial level. Otherwise he will be ‘guilty of’ being long-winded. I didnt realise this until i came to the UK a few years ago and observe that most of the Brits I have spoken to, approach conversation/topic the same way as he does. They can have dialogues on any topic with some depth in their analysis and very engaging in conversations. I can have conversation with them and not get any childish/immature responses. Really a stark difference in reaction between the Brits and the Chinese. With this exposure and on trips back to Asia, interacting with the chinese makes me realise how difficult and stifling it has been for Ed living among the chinese.

My association with him has made me become more self-aware. I have developed further by how he treats me.He is a true friend, as he never fails to give critique when it’s due. True friend does not only say the good things, s/he also needs to critique in order for you to improve and grow and likewise do the same toward him/her. I have also observed over the years that among his/our friends, the Indians and Filipinos are more receptive to new ideas as opposed to the chinese. During conversations, i noticed that when he started to analyse and discuss significant issues, the chinese will shrug off his ideas and comments with responses like ‘it’s like that, lah’, ‘they are they, we are we, go live in the UK’,’ why you so long-winded’,..etc. While with the Indians and Filipinos, they may disagree with his ideas at first but when he goes more in-depth and analyse further, I can see they start to engage further and ask questions, not necessary agreeing all the time but definitely more open to ideas and willing to think further.

Ed is very spot-on in his observation -  “...the initial phase of a relationship with a chinese is very crucial. If one does not push for adaption or integration on their part, they become adept at ignoring those aspects of your persona that is different from them. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 times, to push for adaptation would see them distancing from you from the outset. So it was a catch 22 situation.” I have been through the cycle with him and truly would have moved away from him had it not been for his persistence and perseverance. I would have remain a lesser person. 

On hindsight, when I ignored his perspectives, it truly wasn’t done willfully or purposely, it was reflexive to turn a deaf ear or get space out when the topic is not within my interests or requires further thoughts. I grew up with my mother always telling me ‘don’t ask questions’, ‘ just do as you are told’, ‘just follow the orders of the elders’,..(all the wrong values that all parents should not impart to their children). My perspectives and views have started to change since I got to know him.

Thank you, Ed for being a true mate :)