Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 02/24/2013 05:25 | By Channel NewsAsia

Culture & identity take centre stage at Eurasian dialogue

Culture & identity take centre stage at Eurasian dialogue

Culture & identity take centre stage at Eurasian dialogue

SINGAPORE: Culture took centre stage at a dialogue involving Eurasians on Saturday afternoon.

About 60 Eurasians gathered to give their take on the Singapore Conversation, a national project to get Singaporeans talking about the future of the country.

The question of the day was what are the Eurasian community’s hopes for a future Singapore?

There are close to 18,000 Eurasians in Singapore, making it one of the smallest minority groups here.

With immigration adding to the country’s diversity, a key issue raised was the changing Eurasian identity.

Adrienne de Souza, a civil servant, said: "It is very difficult, and we struggled a lot with trying to answer the question of what exactly is a Eurasian? We think it is something organic, and fluid, and that it will change over time."

"Different people will associate with different things. Some people might associate with a food culture, some with heritage Eurasians or being from a particular lineage of Eurasians. Other people may associate with being from the same housing estate. These are the things we think will bring people together."

Vincent Schoone, vice president of the Eurasian Association, said: "I don’t think they have any concerns that the Eurasian identity will be completely and absolutely eroded. I think for the older Eurasians, they just want it to be there, to be maintained and reminded that Singaporeans will remember who they are. We are Eurasians, and (we are) part of and parcel of nation—building here in Singapore."

In 2012, four in 10 marriages were between a Singaporean and a foreigner.

Christopher de Souza, Member of Parliement for Holland—Bukit Timah GRC, said: "Part of this group are between Singaporeans and people of European descent. I think that presents an opportunity to the Singaporean Eurasian community."

With many seniors here, the dialogue also touched on issues of ageing and cost of living.

Second Minister for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran, said: "Many of the issues that were identified actually resonate for all communities in Singapore. In other words, they are national issues that all Singaporeans are seized with. For example, how do we provide for older Singaporeans as they age, as they retire."

— CNA/fa

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