“I wouldn’t say I’m popular, but I think people know me because I’m the only Malay student at school. Actually, there’s another student – a Malay guy – who also attends Anglican High School, but I believe I’m the only female Malay student there.
I don’t think my classmates are surprised that I can speak Mandarin – that’s the only second language my school offers. Furthermore, I’ve been learning Mandarin since kindergarten and continued in primary school. I attended Red Swastika which only offered Higher Chinese.
It wasn’t compulsory but my parents wanted me to learn Mandarin. I’d say I’m pretty fluent. I’m more comfortable speaking Mandarin than speaking in Malay, but I can still improve in certain areas like composition writing. I feel like I can add more idioms and things like that.
I chose Anglican High because it’s a SAP school that’s near home. My cousin was also from there and said that his teachers were really nice. If you face any problems, they’d attend to you and welcome you with open arms, even if you’re from a different religion or race.
During my first week in secondary one, the Muslim stall wasn’t opened yet. Instead of just asking me to bring my own food from home, a teacher – the Level Head – volunteered to go out and buy Halal food for me so that I could eat lunch during recess.
I also like Anglican High because they focus on all aspects of you – in terms of studies and sports – while some schools may only care about studies or sports. This is important to me because I play badminton competitively, here in Singapore and overseas.
Before COVID-19 happened, I would go to Indonesia during the June and December holidays for training. Now I can’t, of course, but I still train in Singapore under Coach Robin at Gonansa Badminton Club. My goal is to be in the top 10 in the country.
Yes, I was very aware that I was a minority since day one because my skin colour is obviously very different. And I’m not sure if Anglican High is a Catholic or Christian school, but every morning, there will be someone quoting the Bible during Morning Devotion.
And before COVID-19 happened, we used to assemble in the hall on Fridays and students would sing and dance together as a way for the school to incorporate Christian beliefs. Even though I’m not Christian myself, I would dance along with my friends.
I don’t feel awkward. I’ve kind of gotten over it. I may not sing along to the songs or listen to what they have to say about the religion, but the occasion feels very fun because everyone seems to be enjoying their time together. It’s just them expressing their love for their religion.
My classmates don’t make me feel any different just because I’m Malay. Maybe it’s because I can speak Mandarin, but I’m a very sociable person anyways and I like to approach people first, so people tend to be very warm and welcoming. I’m pretty happy about that.
Yes, I am aware of the racism cases in Singapore that have been reported a lot lately, like the recent case with Beow Tan. I guess some Chinese people – not all of course; some – feel that they are superior because they are part of the majority in Singapore.
I think people who discriminate against others don’t get a lot of exposure or knowledge about people of different races and religions. Somehow, they have been influenced wrongly, so they assume the worst. Just get more information before you spread rumours or hate.
If you find yourself to be the only minority in school or at work, I say just express yourself no matter who you are. People won’t like somebody who’s more reserved. I feel that if you are more outgoing, they’ll try to befriend you and get to know you even more.
Instead of them coming to you, you go to them first. You start the friendship first, so they would not feel uncomfortable with you. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being the minority, cos that’s just special.” – Alyaa, 15
Interview by: Arman Shah