SINGAPORE - I used to joke with my friends that I should be our country's poster boy.
After all, I am made up of all the three main races in Singapore.
My dad is Indian, my mum Chinese. And somewhere in the family tree is a smattering of Malay.
But that aside, I'm not really sure if I'm a "core Singaporean".
Actually, I'm not even sure what that really is.
And after several months of editing stories of the people we featured in our Hardcore Singaporean series (inspired by the phrase core Singaporean used during the White Paper on Population debate), I find it even more difficult to define it.
For many, whether the person did his national service should be a vital consideration.
But what about those who put in those two years, but did it in a desk-bound job, with the only sweat coming during frequent trips to the camp canteen?
For others, being born here is important.
But there are many of these who would rather not remain in Singapore, if opportunities overseas beckon.
Quite a few also said that whether the person uses Singlish determines how Singaporean he is.
But I realised that almost all of the elderly people we featured spoke no Singlish at all.
Yet, many of these people were the ones we consider pioneers of the nation.
So how, like that?
For me, the easiest definition is this - a core Singaporean is whoever wants to be here, come what may.
We are a nation who complain a lot - COE prices are too high, housing costs too, even ERP charges are getting out of hand.
But any person who can look beyond these things and still want to stay, even if he has the opportunity to migrate overseas, should be considered a core Singaporean in my opinion.
Some may speak Singlish, others speak with their native accent.
But what binds us all is our desire to be here.
At the end of the day, that's all that should really matter.
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