Thursday, August 09, 2007

Do You Really Love Singapore?

Letter from Essaive of SammyBoy Forum.

Do I Really Love This Country?

Our nation is preparing to celebrate its 42nd birthday early next month. Suddenly I see huge banners and billboards showing happy children of different races juxtaposed with the pictures of their respective MPs of the various constituencies sprouting around the country. I see banners, flags, music videos and all sorts of decorations wishing a country that rose from being a chaotic, dirty, impoverished state to an economic powerhouse with global benchmarks in almost every avenue, a happy 42nd birthday.

But looking at it critically, something just doesn’t seem right. Are these people really in a celebratory mood? Are those children really celebrating away from the camera too? Do these kids even know who those MPs in the poster together with them are? Did the people who put up those banners doing it out of passion or obligation? Did the singers of these national day songs really write from their heart and sing ad verbatim? Do people really love the country that much?

Firstly, are Singaporeans really celebrating? Because recent experiences include 3 different taxi drivers complaining to me about life in Singapore, 2 old men in the coffee shop engaging in really intense polemics on how exactly was the GST increase beneficial to the poor in Singapore and an electrical engineer I know is seriously considering not having a 2nd child due to the potential financial burden to his family. With all these cynicism going around, I really wonder how long more the Government can tell us that everything is okay. Just take a walk down your neighbourhood and chances are you will be able to spot a beggar or two or someone collecting empty drink cans from food centers and even dustbins to sell. If really is in a golden age, then how do we explain all these? Even I, coming from a middle class family find it hard to go by everyday but I really shudder to think how the less fortunate go about their daily lives.

Secondly, talking about the children pictured together waving the flag. Sure, they did it amidst instructions from the cameraman or their teachers but are they really enjoying their youth? Are they really allowed their weekends free to rest and relax? Exams, segregation based on academic performances, stress and peer pressure and now, soliciting for donations on Saturdays. Is this really necessary? I understand that charities need money to go about their daily running but what is the point if they have to force schoolchildren to do it for them with the Community Involvement Programme (CIP)? And how do you measure altruism in ? Especially after the recent scandals involving charities, how sure are you that Singaporeans are more willing to part with their hard earned money?

I understand that the government works very hard to make sure we remain successful but at what cost? What is the point of being no.1 in the world but back home; there are smaller but more dangerous issues which have not been tackled. The recent economic policies have resulted in a greater disparity between the rich and the poor. It may seem like I’m exaggerating but how do we explain the recent surge in comments coming in from the “elites” about the poorer and less fortunate in especially via the Internet? Then there is the issue of foreign talent.

Foreign talent is vital for ’s long term success and gives Singaporeans a much better challenge and rids us of complacency but just how much is too much? After all its common logic that some of these foreigners might actually only be using Singapore as a stepping stone before moving off to the place they really wanted to go like USA. So how does this pacify the local kid who studied so hard to get his degrees, toiled under the sun for 2 years in NS only to lose out to the foreigner who might go elsewhere where the prospects could be higher? Where is the motivation? Instead of motivating us, all we get are comments about how lazy and unmotivated we are.

Another point is how do we identify with foreign sportspersons representing ? An Englishman and a Singaporean could be watching a World Cup match and the Englishman could point to a random player and exclaim how they used to be childhood buddies but can the Singaporean do the same? Of course I’m not saying foreigners are evil but realistically speaking, wouldn’t it be more ideal if these foreign talents could be mentors instead of doing our jobs?

You know life in a particular country is sad when there actually has to be a public campaign to stop the abuse of bus captains. But has anyone ever questioned why exactly are these people beating up the poor bus drivers? Why more and more Singaporeans are perpetually complaining about life here? Why the number of flags you see outside HDB flats now is much smaller than in the 90s? Why most of the people who write to newspaper forums to praise this country are actually foreigners? Why people who get selected to receive their NDP tickets eventually go on to sell them for a huge profit? These are some of the things I hope Singaporeans will continue to think about and hopefully, like me, think of solutions.


Edmund Ng
CEO, President
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