I was first notified of the NCMP motion passing when a good friend texted me, while I was washing dishes after dinner, “congratulations duckweed Goh!” I had a good laugh, though this is serious business through and through. Thank you all for the messages since, sorry I have not been able to reply (been busy whole night Skyp-ing with an academic conference happening in Ottawa).
There are some of you who would like me to take up the NCMP seat, and then some of you who don’t want me to, on principle and in response to what you see as ugly ruling party behaviour (vector lah, don’t take it to heart). I’ll be doing the former and this is my main reason for the decision.
Mr Low is right: NCMPs are essentially duckweeds. He is using a Chinese flower metaphor in a very natural way, the significance and nuances of which many of us, Anglophones, don’t understand. Very crudely, it means NCMPs are like pretty flowers that sink no roots, floating about and contradicting the values of harmony and community.
Objectively, this is true in the long run, and I am with the WP MPs and the party opposing the NCMP scheme. But for me, personally, at this point in my life, and as I see it, at this point in Singapore’s history, the principle of national service trumps the political principle of opposing the NCMP scheme. If my country sees fit that I contribute as duckweed, then it is my honour to be duckweed Goh. It is no insult; it is a privilege.
In any case, as a good man emailed me to tell me, for Anglophones such as us, duckweeds are not altogether negative, as they are seen as resilient and prolific plants valued as livestock feed, for water purification and for alternative biofuel. That is, to feed, to clarify and to drive the greater good in our shared commons. And so I hope and will strive, wish me Godspeed.