Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Second Part: Prodigy Child Born In Singapore...

Singapore's strange media silence.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Ainan was not Singaporean. You might form that impression by reading the Singaporean newspapers. You see, what was remarkable about them, over the past couple of weeks, was the absence of any mention of Ainan in them. Only one newspaper, the Zaobao, made mention of Ainan's scientific discovery of Velociperception, at the age of 8 - but even that was a very strange article for it claimed that Ainan's mother was a Malaysian (in other words, "Ainan is no loss to Singapore, because he doesn't even come from here".)

Now, I find this all very odd. Firstly, Ainan's mother, Syahidah is a Singaporean by birth. However her MOTHER was Malaysian by birth. Thus Syahidah is half Malaysian by blood and half Singaporean Malay by blood - and Singaporean by citizenship. Ainan was born in Singapore and was thus born into Singaporean citizenship. It is odd, indeed, therefore, that Singapore's national media should almost entirely ignore a Singaporean born boy who made a scientific discovery at age 8. Any other nation on Earth, would be so proud of such a development that they would scream it to the world at the top of their media lungs. Not so Singapore. Singapore, it very much seems, cannot be proud of the achievement of a half-Malay boy. No, you see, in the unwritten script of the national Singaporean story, Malays achieve nothing worthwhile and all the kudos goes to the dominant Chinese. It doesn't fit their national script to have a half-Malay boy achieve anything, let alone become the youngest person in history, to discover anything scientific, as he is.

There is something else interesting about the Zaobao story. Firstly, they called Ainan's mother, Malaysian, to rewrite his script as no loss to Singapore, because he wasn't from Singapore in the first place. This is, of course a lie. Secondly, I recall that they referred to Ainan as "Yinan". This is very interesting, for this is a CHINESE name. They are reframing Ainan's Malay success story, as a Chinese success story.

Now, I don't know whether these are innocent mistakes on the part of Zaobao - whether they, in fact, picked up this misinformation elsewhere and simply repeated it. I know this, however: the Zaobao article has been PULLED from the internet, since then and Google is no longer able to find it. Old links that point to the article now go to a blank page on Zaobao. This is very interesting. It seems to show that Zaobao's coverage, though minute, was not approved of, by other members of the PAP power structure - and even that little coverage was pulled once they realized it had gone out. The idea, of course, is that Singaporeans should not ever know about Ainan's growing achievements. I believe that Singapore will follow a rule regarding Ainan: the more he achieves, the less they will write of him. In the long term, this will mean that the people on Earth least informed about Ainan, a born Singaporean, will be the Singaporean people themselves.

None of this really matters to us, personally. If Singapore wants to keep the truth from its people, there is little we can do about that, except perhaps write a comment on a blog that only a small number of people will ever see. Eventually, however, the people of Singapore will work out what Singapore is doing. They will see, for instance, Ainan's growing presence on the internet and the many articles, IN OTHER COUNTRIES, referencing his achievements, and they will realize, that their local media have been unaccountably silent. They will understand, then, what is happening. Will this improve the impression Singaporeans have of their media? I don't think so. It will just show them what kind of media they have. It will show them that, more often than not, the most interesting stories, are the ones they never get to hear.

Imagine a future in which Ainan wins a major scientific prize, one day. It doesn't have to be the Nobel. There are other science prizes, too. What would happen then? Well, I think it would be very instructive for any Singaporeans who keep an eye on the internet for news of Ainan. If Ainan should one day win a major scientific prize, or make a major scientific discovery (in a way he already has...), the whole world will be alive with news of it, except for one, very quiet little island. In such an eventuality, the only country that would not know about Ainan's achievement, would be Singapore itself.

What a strange, little country Singapore is. Is there anywhere else in the world, outside of Soviet Russia, China, Burma and North Korea, capable of such a thing? Clearly, Singapore is keeping very interesting company, in the way it conducts itself. I wonder if the powers-that-be ever reflect on their own nature? What do they think of themselves and what they are doing?

Now, this post is written with two background facts in mind. Firstly, the only article to make it, briefly, to the internet, from Singapore, was the Zaobao article. No other article had an online presence. Furthermore, none of our relatives in Singapore heard of any news articles about Ainan. Therefore, I am assuming that there were no other articles of which I am unaware. If you know otherwise, please comment below.

Given that our relatives didn't hear anything, about Ainan, in the papers, it is most likely that there are no other articles - certainly not in the English or Malay press. That, in itself, is enough to support the analysis of this article.

It is funny to contemplate that, in the long term, the people least informed about the life and achievements of Singaporean born Ainan Celeste Cawley, look set to be the Singaporean people themselves. Now, how strange is that? By contrast, all other Chinese speaking countries in the world, and all other Chinese speaking newspapers in the world, gave significant coverage to Ainan's discovery. The question is: why didn't Singapore's media do the same?

Answers, please, below.

1 comment:

zhou said...

A few weeks ago, my son Ainan was clearly in reverie. He looked up at me, then, a question in his eyes.

“Can doing nothing for a long period hurt your brain?”

“ Yes.”

“ Then Singapore hurt my brain...for years I would get up early, go to a building, do nothing all day and come home late with no time to do anything else.”

I had to agree. Singapore had forced Ainan to go to Primary school, even though he had mastered O level standard work, already. It was a stupid act, of a stupid education system, guided by stupid people. They just wouldn’t let us home school him, despite us asking repeatedly. They seemed to feel a need to control his growing mind, to not let it be free to grow as we would guide it. Finally, of course, we escaped Singapore altogether. Our answer to their not giving us permission to home school him, was to emigrate from the country altogether.

What Singapore has never learnt, and probably never shall learn, is that you cannot constrict the people. You cannot force them into boxes in which they don’t belong. Any attempt to do so, will result in those people leaving the country. Singapore’s education system seems to have a wish to limit its children in certain ways, and constrain them into certain conventional, preordained categories of function. Anything which exceeds those norms, is not handled well – despite the existence of the “Gifted Branch”, of the Ministry of Education.