Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Asian Values

A letter in the ST forum, TV forum with MM Lee shows English-educated S'poreans are westernised, lack Asian values. Fix the school curriculum , suggested that we should inculcate Asian Values into our young via the school curriculum. There are many points in the letter that I do not agree with.

According to the writer,
Firstly, some of our young, especially the English-educated, are not just modernised but also westernised. They lack knowledge of Asian values which older people acquire as they get older and wiser.
Many things are implied by the above statement. The most insidious must be the idea that when one becomes wiser, one would necessarily gain knowledge of Asian values. The implication of this is that Asian values are the only 'correct' set of values and that Western values are the opposite, being unwise. This is arrogant and bigoted thinking.

Of course, a parry to my argument is that Western values are not wrong, but it is only natural for Asians to adopt Asian values. Westerners are free to adopt their own set of values. However, this counterargument is distasteful. What makes it natural for me to adopt Asian values ? Are humans born stamped with a brand saying "Adopt Asian values ?" Or are some people genetically disposed to a certain set of values ?

It must be agreed that values cannot be imposed forcefully on anybody. Nobody is inherently bound, by birth or any other factor, to a certain set of values. We must all be allowed to exercise our judgment to believe in what we wish to believe in.

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