Artist's 'submissive Singaporeans' remarks spark debate
A young local artist has touched a raw nerve in Singapore after she posted a YouTube video labelling Singaporeans as "submissive" and attacking the city-state's education system for stifling creativity.
Singer Steph Micayle's monologue titled "Why I am not proud to be Singaporean" has generated more than 800,000 views and 15,000 comments on the popular video-sharing site since it was posted on January 15.
The 14-minute video was uploaded by the 21-year-old after she initially drew flak last week when she told local media in an interview that she "didn't really feel proud to be Singaporean" following complaints that she had tarred the city-state's reputation with her bad behaviour in a South Korean reality talent show.
"I believe it is time for Singaporeans to see a fresh perspective of... society and know that it is not perfect," she said in the YouTube video defending her views.
Micayle, who has over 124,000 Facebook followers, listed multiple reasons for not being proud to be a Singaporean, one of which was that "Singaporeans are submissive".
"Since young, all we have heard is you have to do it like this. So when we become adults, that's all we hear as well. No one ever thinks out of the box," she said.
"No one ever speaks up. It's like Singaporeans don't have brains of their own. They just go with the crowd, sorry but it is kind of true, you know it's true... freedom of speech does not exist."
The singer, who has garnered over 10 million views for her cover of South Korean rapper Psy's "Gangnam Style", also launched a scathing attack on Singapore's education system.
"In Singapore every single one of us is a homework robot... Talent in Singapore is wasted, creativity is restricted, so as an artist how can I not feel that this country is not meant for me?" she asked.
Micayle added that the wealthy city-state's ultra-competitive environment was not conducive for budding artists like herself.
"This country has become so obsessed with the idea that the best thing to do in life is (to be) a doctor, a lawyer or be an engineer," she said.
The city-state's public school system is renowned for producing students who excel in maths and science globally, and other Asian countries consider the Singapore's curriculum and teaching methods a benchmark to aim for.
Critics however say that it is too focused on rote learning and that its highly competitive environment imposes undue stress on students.
Micayle's video, widely circulated on social media portals including Facebook and Twitter, drew mixed responses from Singaporeans. Some derided her for being naive while others lauded her for speaking her mind.
Liew Kai Khiun, a cultural studies researcher at the Nanyang Technological University, said Micayle's post "touched a raw nerve across cyberspace in Singapore" amid rising expectation for "restraint in the public domain".
"What she had said may not be new. But the confidence in putting herself physically forward in expressing her views openly must have won her both admirers and detractors," he told AFP.
"Despite the differing view points, I think netizens would agree at the very least that what she said came authentically from her heart," he added.