Friday, February 23, 2024

芽笼士乃 :马来人心中的文化纽带 Geylang Serai

原文刊登于《源》2023年第6期,总期166


芽笼士乃地形图

华、印、巫族乃新加坡三大主要族群,占总人口98%。分别代表华人和印度人地标的牛车水和小印度于19世纪开始发展,马来人的村落分布较广,一些在加冷河口生活的海人跟马来人通婚后往加冷河东岸迁移,芽笼士乃(Geylang Serai)的马来村落开始成型。二战后芽笼士乃的马来居民增长迅速,发展成为马来文化中心。

芽笼士乃地方不大,与海格路(Haig Road)和友诺士(从前的芽笼士乃)合共30多座组屋。由于新加坡组屋政策有种族比例条规,这一带组屋跟其他地区一样,左邻右舍不乏各族人士,大家共用同一台电梯,同一条走廊。

芽笼士乃的马来文原意是香茅(Serai)加工厂(Kilang),原籍阿拉伯的亚塞高夫Alsagoff)家族将土地出租给居民种植香茅,收成后在工厂提炼成香精油,可见百多年前这一带已有小型工业。

 

职业专科学校

新加坡智障人士福利促进会(MINDS)所在地,原身为芽笼士乃职业专科学校(Geylang Serai Vocational Institute)。职专可说是早期工业的延伸,回溯建国时期,丹戎加东和女皇镇中学率先转型为工艺中学。进入70年代,15间工艺中学拥有完善的金工、木工和电工设施,开放给其他学校的男女学生上实习课。中二的辍学生可报读职专,毕业后加入工业化的队伍。

新加坡智障人士福利促进会(MINDS)所在地,原身为芽笼士乃职业专科学校(Geylang Serai Vocational Institute),培养技工来实现工业化

芽笼士乃职专成立前,这一带已经开办职业学校,例如1952年成立的芽笼手工艺中心(Geylang Craft Centre),课程以家政及商业为主,对象为年龄14岁以上的马来女生,入学条件是小学毕业或修完马来学校7年级。1953年成立的马来技术学院(Malay Craft School),主要教导马来语、英语和木工。

 

电车带来人气

迈向工业化之前,本地的陆路运输业已征聘不少维修员工,芽笼士乃是新加坡交通史的见证者。一个多世纪前,有轨电车的东部总站设在芽笼士乃,1920年代进入无轨电车时代, 50年代柴油机巴士取代电车,为电车提供电力的高空电线逐一消失。便利的交通带来人气,报章形容30多万居民的芽笼士乃是个人口稠密的乡村。

居民的日常离不开柴米油盐酱醋茶,巴刹可说是最接地气的公共场所,如切路(Joo Chiat Road)和樟宜路(Changi Road)交界的樟宜巴刹和如切巴刹相邻四个年代,60年代芽笼士乃巴刹在两所“旧巴刹”对面开业,让居民有更多选择性。三轮车夫摆起车阵,将满载而归的居民载回甘榜。如今居民购物后用手机打Grab,把大包小包的战利品放到后车厢打道回府。

芽笼士乃十字路口,芽笼士乃巴刹、如切大厦(从前的樟宜巴刹)和后面的组屋(从前的如切巴刹)形成马来文化中心纽带

 

芽笼士乃和木薯甘榜

木薯(ubi)粗生粗长,把木薯干砍成小段插入泥土,收成指日可待。日据时期芽笼士乃居民种植木薯作为战争食粮,友诺士地铁站一带就是那时候的木薯生产地,因此易名甘榜乌美(Kampong Ubi,木薯甘榜)。木薯甘榜只保留现代的甘榜乌美组屋区,芽笼士乃的惹兰乌美(Jalan Ubi)和甘榜乌美民众联络所保留地方记忆。

坐落在惹兰乌美的甘榜乌美民众联络所为二战时期的芽笼士乃保留记忆

独立年间,建屋发展局在芽笼士乃兴建三座组屋,经常受到水灾困扰的居民受到诱惑,纷纷搬迁到附近的新镇,加速芽笼士乃朝现代化转型。80年代,樟宜和如切巴刹由如切大厦和新组屋取代。移民厅在如切大厦开设办公室,签发国际护照和入境西马的蓝色护照。迈入千禧年后,蓝色护照作废,大厦内的移民厅跟着结束。如今如切大厦的店家主要销售马来服装、中东地毯和由华人经营的回教特色窗帘。

 

芽笼士乃小贩中心见证时代变迁

于新马合并期间落成的芽笼士乃巴刹是该地区的重要地标,见证马印对抗年代的几番风雨。印度尼西亚认为新马合并是个假象,实际上是先监视,后并吞婆罗洲。19644月两名芽笼士乃居民在芽笼士乃住所被炸死,五个月后年迈的三轮车夫在巴刹附近被杀害,相信跟印尼特工进行破坏有关。

半年内发生两起命案,导致人心惶惶。虽然新落成的巴刹可以遮风挡雨,小贩宁可继续在路边摆摊,万一受到攻击时方便逃生。

转眼间一个甲子已过,巴刹重建两回,湿巴刹、熟食中心和服装店同在屋檐下。华人、马来人和印度人在湿巴刹经营蔬果、香料和海产,二楼云集马来和印度回教徒美食。“Sinar Pagi Nasi Padang”菜饭摊陪伴着第一代芽笼士乃巴刹成长,源自苏门答腊西部的巴东菜色多元化,SETHLUI美食网评选为本地6000多个熟食摊位中,300大必食佳肴之一。您品尝了吗?

芽笼士乃熟食中心的“Sinar Pagi Nasi Padang”菜饭摊受推荐为本地最佳美食之一

 

消失的娱乐世界

芽笼士乃现代化进程中,特别拨出一公顷土地打造马来文化村,促进传统马来手工艺和文化活动。迈入21世纪,原来的马来文化村由综合性的芽笼士乃大厦(Wisma Geylang Serai)取代,并在大厦内设立社区文物馆。这片土地曾经出现过大东方商品展览场和东方世界游艺场(Eastern World Amusement Park),为居民提供在地娱乐场所,不需要跑到几公里外的快乐世界。

二战前,本地盛行马来歌舞剧邦沙万(Bangsawan)。这类歌舞剧扎根于马来文化,但不乏融入本地社会的语言特性。土生华人、土生爪夷人和欧亚裔人士都有各自的邦沙万剧团,芽笼士乃居民更喜欢这类具备本土色彩,掺杂各族语言的演出。

1930年代落成的皇后戏院门面成为环宇广场(Grandlink Square)的一部分

随着娱乐多元化,观众从街头走入电影院。芽笼士乃巴刹旁的Millage公寓原为邵氏院线的狮城戏院(Singapura Cinema),80年代电影市场受到录影带泛滥的打击,专门放映马来与印度片的狮城戏院跟着倒闭。至于30年代落成的皇后戏院(Queen’s Theatre),戏院门面成为环宇广场(Grandlink Square)的一部分,让大家重温结伴看戏的旧时代情怀。

 

殿下的路

芽笼士乃大厦旁有条恩姑阿曼路(Engku Aman Road),恩姑(Engku)意同殿下,是对王室成员的尊称。恩姑阿曼(Syed Abdulrahman bin Tana Alsagoff)是亚塞高夫家族成员,曾经拥有芽笼大片地产,通过道路把名字保留下来。

Rosni Hassin和母亲在恩姑阿曼12号的住家外留影,背景为新落成的芽笼士乃组屋。(摄于芽笼士乃社区文物馆)

在芽笼士乃的木屋区里,恩姑阿曼的屋子是唯一的砖屋。每个星期四,他在住家为村民举行宴会,经常带着孤儿到巴西班让的度假别墅游玩。恩姑阿曼成立的回教基金,用来资助甘榜格南的亚塞高夫阿拉伯学校(Alsagoff Arab School)、慈善药房(Alsagoff Outdoor Dispensary),以及麦波申的Darul lhsan(男孩)和Darul Ihsan Lilbanat(女孩)回教孤儿院,实践回教徒奉行教义,回馈社会的慈善方式。

 

回教堂是凝聚社群的力量

从前爪哇回教徒朝圣归来,有些到芽笼士乃的种植园工作,有些挑着扁担售卖家乡菜饭,赚取回家的盘缠。 20世纪初,这一带的回教堂陆续落成,包括如切路卡立回教堂(Masjid Khalid),芽笼路卡迪雅回教堂(Masjid Khadijah),巴耶利峇路瓦克丹戎回教堂(Masjid Wak Tanjong)、奥南路(Onan Road)塔哈回教堂(Masjid Taha)。

卡立回教堂通过与非营利组织、教堂、寺庙和学校合作,邀请邻近居民参加联谊活动。农历新年期间,委员会带着礼包拜访商店和住宅,跟非回教徒建立起和谐关系。

瓦克丹戎回教堂旁设立的瓦克丹戎回教学校(Madrasah Wak Tanjong Al-Islamiah),创校过程跟华人乡村办校相似。学校成立前,Ustaz Mohamad Noor在自己家里为附近的孩子们上宗教课,随着人数增加,决定筹建一所正规学校。一个多甲子前的小学校,已发展成为今天小学、中学与高中的“直通车”规模。

瓦克丹戎回教学校(Madrasah Wak Tanjong Al-Islamiah)创校过程跟华人乡村建校相似

本地40多万名回教徒以逊尼派为主流,其中有少数什叶派和阿赫迈底亚派(Ahmadiyya)信徒,塔哈回教堂可能是本地唯一的阿赫迈底亚派系。百多年前,这支“新教”于印度旁遮普初创,目前信徒约占全球总回教徒的1%,由于不接受穆罕默德是最后一位先知,多次受到激进人士攻击。相比之下,本地社会有容乃大,宗教和谐形成独特的社会凝聚力。

塔哈回教堂(Masjid Taha)可能是本地唯一的阿赫迈底亚派回教堂

 

开斋节

对外国人来说,或许芽笼士乃的马来百货商场的声誉远超过文化认同,最能感受到地方风味的,就是开斋节了。斋戒月的芽笼士乃好比农历新年的牛车水,到处是流光溢彩的灯饰,络绎不绝的人流。芽笼士乃巴刹和街道旁都有临时搭建的帐篷,各族人士、各年龄层的消费群纷纷前来逛街购物打卡。

马来朋友在开斋节必吃的椰枣是什么味道呢?这时候来逛街,有多个中东和北非品牌的椰枣供品尝。斋戒的日子白天没进食,人体内血糖偏低,椰枣正好补充糖分。有些商家试探市场,制作北海道寿司口味的糕点,为传统开斋节小吃添加新元素。

马来粽(ketupat)是开斋节必备食品,ketupat的名字可能来自爪哇语ngaku lepat,意思是“承认自己的错误”。交叉编织的叶子代表所犯下的错误,纯净的糯米饭象征遵守斋月仪式后脱罪,可见斋月也是自我反省的时刻。

冠病疫情解封后,芽笼士乃的开斋节夜市人山人海,不过最热闹的还是美食

 

马来传统的现代诠释

芽笼士乃持续增添新活力,不论是巴刹、大厦、地铁站或是行人天桥,高耸的三角屋顶、高脚屋结构、马来村留下的帷幔板或是传统乐器雕塑,都让大家看到马来社区蜕变的过程。未来一两年内,芽笼士乃巴刹将增设亲家庭和无障碍设施,如切大厦外的空地将出现多用途广场,四条马路交界的十字路口将建造灵感出自马来甘榜的艺术拱门,凸显马来文化丰富斑斓的姿彩。

雅迪曼(Yatiman Yusof)的诗歌《芽笼士乃》(Geylang Serai收录在芽笼士乃社区文物馆内,为马来传统做出现代诠释。现代化组屋取代从前的马来甘榜和游艺场,母亲们趁着孩子们睡午觉的时光闲话家常,纵然地貌持续改变,我们继续为未来播种,别让芽笼士乃消失无踪。

《芽笼士乃》(作者:雅迪曼,翻译:李国樑)

明天太阳升起时/ 高墙缝隙间透射光芒/ 我不会忘记/ 住在三房式组屋里/ 邻家小孩在走廊戏耍/ 可爱的表情温暖着我/ 小憩的午后时光/ 年轻的妈妈串门话家常

你的心中/ 荡漾着芽笼士乃三轮车夫的故事/ 东方世界游艺场阵阵欢歌笑语/ 小巴载来一车又一车的人客/ 捎来城里的讯息/ 这里还有书局巴刹电影院

我们筹划着/ 与时并进的旧貌新颜/ 我们不曾忘记/ 洒满一地的记忆/ 我们种下生命树/ 土地跳动的脉搏/ 跟生活糅合一体/ 永远别等到那么一天/ 有人开口询问/ “什么是芽笼士乃”。

 

主要参考

河洛郎,庄依颖,“芽笼士乃 洋溢马来风情”,《联合早报》2017914

黄友平,《新加坡地名探索》,八方文化(2020),ISBN 978 981 1219 78 8

蓝郁,“逛芽笼士乃 细品马来传统建筑之美”,《联合早报》2021930

“Bangsawan, intangible cultural heritage”, https://www.roots.gov.sg/ich-landing/ich/bangsawan accessed 2 March 2023.

Bonny Tan, “Syed Abdulrahman Taha Alsagoff”, singaporeinfopedia, https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_776_2004-12-29.html accessed 28 February 2023.

Geylang Serai Heritage Gallery, visited 19 March 2023.

“Geylang Serai Malay Village”, https://remembersingapore.org/geylang-serai-malay-village/ accessed 28 February 2023.

Marsita Omar, “Trams”, singaporeinfopedia, https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_1085_2006-06-08.html accessed 28 February 2023.

Vernon Cornelius-Takahama, “Geylang Serai”, singaporeinfopedia, https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_747_2004-12-09.html  accessed 28 February 2023.


相关链接

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Commentary: What to do about rising medical costs in Singapore

Author: Han Fook Kwang
Originally published on CNA 14 Feb 2024


Slowing down the rapidly rising cost of healthcare in Singapore requires the authorities to be willing to try new ways to solve the problem, says former veteran newspaper editor Han Fook Kwang.

 

After I wrote a piece on ever-rising medical insurance premiums in December last year, a reader responded with his own experience.

His story is interesting and there are lessons for Singapore.

When his son was diagnosed with a life-threatening cardiovascular disease, the future looked grim.

This was how he described the condition: “My healthy 20-year-old son would be out of breath walking 500m slowly. If there is a gentle incline he would struggle even more - climbing just one flight of stairs could result in loss of consciousness.”

While there were various medical options available, he opted for a complex minimally invasive procedure that needed to be done multiple times in stages.

They were done in a private hospital here but after four such procedures, his son’s condition had not improved.

The prognosis remained the same: His son was dying.

 

TREATMENT IN JAPAN

Urgent action was required and he decided then to consult a cardiologist in Japan known for his success in performing these procedures, and to fly there with his son for the treatment.

After the first two procedures, performed back-to-back over two days, this was how the father described the improvement: “The results were immediate and dramatic. Where my son would potentially faint climbing up stairs slowly before, now he could rush up stairs two steps at a time, like a normal young adult.”

Three months later, as planned, they returned to Japan for three more rounds of treatment.

“His condition is completely cured now,” the father reported.

The interesting part of his story is not the success or failure of the treatments in Singapore and Japan.

There will always be more experienced and skilful doctors in other countries in the different medical specialties, and each country will have its own strengths and weaknesses.

That’s not the point. What is of greater concern is the difference in costs. 

In Singapore, each procedure cost on average S$40,000 (US$29,700), excluding scans and other tests. These costs were covered by insurance.

In Japan, he was charged a total of S$17,000 for the first two procedures, and S$22,000 for the remaining three, which included a total of 10 days of hospitalisation as well as the necessary tests. This means around S$7,000 to S$8,000 per procedure or about five times cheaper than in Singapore.

It is a staggering difference, made all the more puzzling by the fact that the Japanese doctor was internationally recognised as a leader in the field, and the outcome bore this out.

None of this cost in Japan was covered by insurance as the coverage here does not extend to overseas treatment.

 

RISING HEALTHCARE COSTS IN SINGAPORE

His experience raises the wider and more important question: Why was the medical treatment so much more expensive here than in Japan?

Since his son was a foreign patient, it is unlikely he benefited from state subsidies and what he paid must have been close to or higher than the cost of performing the operation in Japan. This means the actual cost in Japan could not be more than S$7,000 a procedure.

What was the cost in Singapore for which he was charged around S$40,000 per procedure?

Was the huge difference because cost was different or was it because the mark-up or profit here was much higher than in Japan?

Follow-up question: Did the fact that he was insured in Singapore but not in Japan affect these mark-ups as is commonly believed to be the case?

If you’re insured, doctors tend to be less concerned about charging their patients since someone else is paying.

The rising cost of providing healthcare in Singapore is an issue that requires urgent attention.

Government spending on healthcare costs quadrupled from S$3.7 billion in 2009 to S$15.2 billion in 2020 and is projected to hit S$27 billion in 2030.

The government recognises this and has been highlighting its concern about how rapidly costs have gone up. It launched the Healthier SG initiative last year aimed at strengthening primary care provided by general practitioners (GPs) who are better placed to ensure their patients adopt a healthier lifestyle and tackle medical problems at an earlier stage.

The thinking is that when people live more healthily and their medical problems are detected earlier by a GP, their medical bills in later life should be lower.

That is the hope. But it will take time to see results, perhaps in a generation or so. In the meantime, more direct and urgent measures might be needed to contain rapidly increasing costs.

 

PRIVATE VS PUBLIC HEALTHCARE

What can be done?

For government hospitals, you would expect costs to be lower than in the private sector as it is able to benefit from economies of scale and to negotiate better prices for equipment and drugs.

But is it really the case? There are some surprising results when comparing public and private sector prices.

For example, for some tests, the prices of which are available in catalogues at doctor clinics and online, government prices before subsidy are higher than those from private providers.

For testing of Vitamin D levels in blood, it costs S$106 at the specialist outpatient clinics at government hospitals compared to S$95 at private specialists.

For flu jabs, it is S$33 at polyclinics and S$32 at Raffles Hospital, both prices before the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

A 2D echocardiography (non-invasive imaging test to analyse the heart) is also higher at government compared to private hospitals.

These private sector prices include mark-ups that might be as high as 50 per cent, which means that their actual costs are probably much lower.

Managing costs in the public sector is challenging because there is a major difference in the motivation to do so compared to private hospitals.

The latter is driven by the profit motive which provides a powerful incentive because any reduction you can achieve shows in the bottom line. The mantra in private practice is to cut down waste and improve efficiency. Hence a private practitioner will try to see as many patients as possible, which results in a lower cost per patient.

A public doctor is unlikely to be driven by the same motivation but might prefer to do other things such as research or other medical-related activities, but which will not improve his unit cost per patient.

There is nothing wrong with this behaviour and the point isn’t who is the better doctor. They are driven by different motivations concerning costs that explain why public sector costs may not be lower than that in the private sector.

This being the case, it is critical that the public sector implements effective measures to manage costs because individual players in the system may not.

The government has started, in Healthier SG, with budget allocations for hospitals based on the population being managed rather than the number and type of cases treated.

With a fixed budget, hospitals should hopefully be more cost conscious.

But it should do more to learn from private sector practices, in the way staff are deployed, their job scope and the way work is organised to bring down costs to comparable levels.

It should be noted that the discussion above is about the cost of providing medical services.

What is charged to the patient is a completely different matter, and there is, similarly, a world of a difference between the two sectors.

While private hospitals may be relentless about cutting costs, they will charge whatever the market can bear, regardless of their actual costs. Hence patients may end up paying sky high prices, even as costs are managed, as might have been the case mentioned at the beginning of this article. There may be a need for some form of price control in the private sector, to prevent them from running away uncontrollably.  

Friday, February 16, 2024

新尧湾之夜 Siniawan

现在旅游,像是喝老酒,在古月今尘中停留,感染褪色的作息,粤语称“有自唔在,攞苦嚟辛”。

古晋市中心到新尧湾20多公里,车程约40分钟。古镇原住民比达友人(Bidayuh700多户,华人主要是来自揭西河婆的700户客家人,马来人100户。

2023423日星期日,走过峇哥国家公园回旅店休息,准备隔天续程诗巫。离开古晋前,华灯初上的时刻,抵达这个有点偏远的古镇。停车场旁是颇具规模的民办新尧湾中华公学。

新尧湾中华公学

180年前出现的小镇经历过几度繁华凋谢,周末夜市人气来自古晋居民,以及少数我们这些“投谷歌问路”的旅人。老木屋,红灯笼,70档路边摊排两旁,有道地的砂拉越美食,也有台湾小吃,奶茶、阿婆的店、黄金地瓜球,…斗转星移,仿佛置身台湾夜市。

小镇经历过几度繁华凋谢,周末夜市人气来自古晋居民,以及少数我们这些“投谷歌问路”的旅人

路边摊有道地的砂拉越美食,也有台湾小吃,奶茶、阿婆的店、黄金地瓜球,…斗转星移,仿佛置身台湾夜市

两人制做黄金地瓜球充满默契,举手投足尽在不言中


各个档口叫些小菜,上弦月和金星陪衬下品味古镇沧桑。还不到晚上九点,较早时的热气,跟人潮一起差不多散尽。此生不晓得会不会有下次邂逅,可否借点时间,借来晚风,借一条桥,跟今宵相拥?

上弦月和金星陪衬下品味古镇沧桑

 

新尧湾的前世今生

通过Going Places by Malaysia Airlines畅游行马来西亚星洲网,以及维基网站,多了解古镇的来历。

文莱统治砂拉越时代,原住民比达友人联合对抗汶莱苏丹,使到英国和婆罗洲的贸易受损。英国探险家詹姆士 · 布洛克(Sir James Brooke)抵达新加坡,海峡殖民地总督蒙咸(Sir George Bonham)委托他出面镇压。1840年布洛克前往古晋,协助文莱苏丹平息暴乱,要求苏丹饶恕比达友人酋长。

文莱苏丹引狼入室,谱写断送江山的前奏。布洛克的炮舰来到苏丹皇宫外,强迫苏丹兑现承诺,委任他为砂拉越总督,后来成为拉惹(Raja,土王)。

布洛克特意引进华人来巩固政权。客家人从荷兰人统治的三发县(Sambas,西加里曼丹)迁徙此地,三四百居民大多做生意,少数从事农作,比达友人则种植蔬果,为矿工供应餐食。

1854年,地理生物学家华莱士(Alfred Russel Wallace)应布洛克之约,到Mount Serambu山上别墅住宿,对新尧湾的纪录如下:

山下有个华人小贩聚落,远比新加坡与马六甲令人愉悦,成群妇幼使得这个聚落显得自然而富有家庭气息。村里的女人大部分都是达雅人与中国人的混血,这提升了他们的种族体质。有些女人十分漂亮,除了年轻的女孩,完全看不出达雅血统。除了种族体质,品德与政治上也有提升。

不过好景不常,1857年当地华人矿业公司反抗拉惹的压迫,华工组军攻打拉惹王宫,撤军返回新尧湾时,遭以依班族原住民(Iban)为主的雇佣兵追击。华人离开战乱之地,回到三发定居,新尧湾一片荒凉。

20多年后,第二代拉惹推出农业优惠,再度吸引揭西河婆人前来新尧湾,矿业、胡椒与橡胶业为小镇带来繁华,创建巴刹、庙宇和学校。我们所看到的古镇木屋,是20世纪初兴建的。

20世纪风雨飘摇,日军占领、反殖民地、马共地下活动,加上砂拉越河泛滥成灾,新尧湾沉寂半个世纪。十多年前当地的民间团体、学术单位与社区领袖携手推动家乡守护计划,成立新尧湾遗产保护委员会,修复一些古老建筑,以民办周末夜市来带动人潮。

我们不在这里住宿,但多年来工程师和文史专业所累积的第六感,下意识地为防火安全感到担忧。话说回来,新尧湾之夜正因沧桑岁月和未知将来,流淌着迷人的气息。

新尧湾老街夜市的标志