9 August is here again.
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9 August is here again and we will be commemorating yet another year of Singapore’s separation from the merger with Malaysia.
I remember that when I was a child, I looked forward to this day with so much excitement and anticipation. My brother and I would sit in front of the television set the whole day, singing along to songs like “We are Singapore”, “One People, One Nation, One Singapore” and “Count on me Singapore” as the videos were being played in between commercials, while counting down to the live telecast of the National Day Parade. However, that was not the highlight of the day really. At about 8pm, we would rush to the kitchen, parked ourselves by the window and waited for the fireworks to burst into the sky so that we could shout out in joy. Sometimes we would even gang up to do it louder than the neighbours’ kids who were doing the same thing too. That was National Day for us when the parade was still being held at the old National Stadium.
Years have passed us by. The parade no longer gets held at the National Stadium. First it was the padang, and now it is being held at Marina Bay. Things have also changed in our lives, especially our consciousness of what it means to be a Singaporean, and we do not have the same sense of excitement and anticipation that we once had before. I think we have long realised that being Singaporean has nothing to do with merely singing songs, hanging the flag, participating in art competitions commemorating the day or to rush to the kitchen window for the fireworks. That was just some childish fun we had, and I do miss it.
I do love this country. This is where I was born and raised; this is where people I have known almost all my life are still staying. However, this place does make me frustrated but it has nothing to do with the fact that it is a tiny island that is overcrowded with people. Rather, it is the feeling of being oppressed, the knowledge that something ugly lurks beneath the surface of our all too glossy “Garden City” image that makes me so. People are not being valued in this country as human beings. Rather, they are mostly being valued as a number, a contributor to our GDP, as well as for their blind and silent obedience towards the ruling party. Everything is about consumerism, cost-cutting and profit, and selling the brand name called Singapore to the rest of the world (well, I am not saying that this is absolutely terrible but…).
To be honest, we do not have a very nice brand name abroad. Sure, we have the reputation of being a “Garden City”, we are also being called this hub and that hub (sometimes with the word “wannabe” trailing behind the word “hub”) but we are also very well known for being politically and socially Orwellian. Michael Fay made us famous as the “country that still does caning” and the fact that we still practice the death penalty for certain non-violent crimes bewilders many. The recent imprisonment of Alan Shadrake has also made us well known as the country who does not respect freedom of opinions and criticisms.
Unknown to many locals, we are also known for our detention (and torture) without trial (ISA).
So, where does the sense of pride lies in? (I was asked lately)
Do we pride ourselves for having a good economic structure (what a delusion), or do we pride ourselves for being the country that disregards human rights (indeed, we do have the right to spend and consume) and discouraging criticisms from locals and foreigners alike? Or maybe, we can pride ourselves for being known as submissive citizens? (Urgh.)
Well I don’t know… I have long gone past this “being proud of” phase. All I know is that this is my home, which has been quite an unfriendly home ever since I have decided to let my opinions become public and turn them into actions years ago, but this is home nevertheless. So I will continue to do my part to make it good. Although I have not been writing much or doing much publicly of late due to being busy with juggling work and studies, I will never stop doing whatever I have been doing as long as capital punishment is around, as long as ISA still exists and as long as issues surrounding gender inequality are still not being addressed adequately. Know why? Because being silent is not human nature, does not contribute to the progress of a society, and because being silent when one disagrees with something means self oppression which will result in depression so it is unhealthy!
Anyway to every Singaporean out there, have a happy rest day, enjoy the fireworks blah blah blah, participate in the “Pledge moment” and check out the meaning of the words on the pledge (don’t read the pledge blindly!), speak Singlish the whole day, watch the following video…
… and Happy 46th National Day!
Hey and… don’t forget to do your homework, as K. Shanmugam and Thio Li-Ann had suggested. Do take the time to check out what an elected President is all about… the ministries have been so kind to put it up on their websites according to Thio Li-Ann. Don’t be so Singaporean and expect spoon-feeding like how they have educated you to be in your 10 years of compulsory education. Get it?😉
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