I came across this article (I know it’s old) a few days ago and it prompted me to write this.
Some twenty odd years ago, I had the privilege to attend a US University for both my undergraduate and graduate studies. When I first got to the US, I was so proud to be a Singaporean that I never shied away from explaining that Singapore was not part of China, talking about Michael Fay and talking about the chewing gum ban.
Today, I am back in the US, not particularly by choice but because of work. Today, it is slightly different. I am not longer interested in telling people I am a Singaporean. I am no longer interested in explaining Singapore is not part of China (are we?). And I am definitely no longer interested in discussing Michael Fay nor chewing gum nor anything Singapore.
During a recent visit by a relative, I was asked if I was ever going back to Singapore. My reply was “I don’t know”. Not that I have a choice but the answer is actually yes. I am only a citizen of one country, Singapore, and therefore, eventually, I would have to return to Singapore. Like it or not.
The next question was: “why do you hate Singapore so much?” My answer was: “I don’t.”
I was not sure why till I thought more about it later that evening.
I am not very politically inclined and maybe that’s why it took a little longer for me to process why I wanted to stay away from Singapore yet I still considered myself to be proud to be Singaporean.
And the answer is basically outlined in the article referred to above.
The old PAP, the Lee Kuan Yew’s, Goh Keng Swee’s, S Rajaratnam’s, Lim Kim San’s, and the rest of the old guard, they were all convicted. Economically, we were a third world country with no natural resources, and they were heavy handed when it came to dealing with people who stepped out of line. But it was all for the good of THE PEOPLE. It was not about money. It was not about fame. It was not about status. It was about building a country, a society where people from different backgrounds would survive and succeed. There were some missteps along the way (two is enough to name one), but if we looked at the big picture, it was always about how Singapore could survive (given all our disadvantages). Policies were made with the people in mind.
1) HDB was created to provide housing to as many people as possible.
2) CPF was to ensure that the people would retire comfortably.
3) NTUC was created to prevent workplace related issues. To ensure they were swiftly taken care off and not till it was too late.
4) SBS was created to provide, well, a reliable public transportation system.
5) AND, “two is enough” was a governmental program created because, if we did not curb the population increase, our lack of resources might actually be our doom. BUT, again, if we look at why the program was created, it was because of THE PEOPLE.
The NEW PAP, is not in it for THE PEOPLE. If their salaries doesn’t tell you what they are in it for, nothing else will. Today, it is not about YOU and I. It is only about YOU and I when elections are around the corner. It is about THEM. It is about GDPs because that’s what their bonuses are tied to. Bonuses? For a government servant? For an elected official? Now, that is Uniquely Singapore. You reward yourself with my tax money, WITHOUT asking me first.
1) HDB is about making profits (while quality of the homes built declines and let’s just not bring up space)
2) CPF… I will leave that to Roy.
3) NTUC is a business. Just like the rest of the country. NTUC is in every business imaginable and not sorry it is killing locally owned small businesses.
4) SBS… well, they still provide public transportation but I don’t know about reliable. Throw in SMRT here.
5) AND, policies are made to ensure the quality of life for the elites, not for THE PEOPLE.
The next morning, at breakfast, I told my relative: “I do not hate Singapore. I hate, really hate, the people who are running the country today.”