9 August is here again.
August 9, 2011, 5:08 pm
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore

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? 😉


6 Comments so far
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for the past few days, the rioting, burning and lootings in dirty, old and racist england is the focal point of the world’s media attention. (the bloody briton alan shadrake is sure to be proud of his birth place of merry old england now).

Comment by johor news

And what’s that got to do with this blog post? I think you are just finding every opportunity to sling mud at Alan. Perhaps instead of doing it here irrelevantly and using a fake name like a good ol’ coward, why don’t you just set up your own blog, put your real identity there and sling as much mud as you want at all of us. Maybe we will take you more seriously then.

By the way, do you mean to say that racism does not exist here in Singapore?

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Thank you – I repost here my comments on Siew Kum Hong’s article – lky-giant of a repressive decade – on toc – cheers

Thank you for this good article. This should be a page in the real history of Singapore, the true version. I can share your feelings and feel your anxiety and frustrations. I am what may be termed as a “colonial baby”. I remember feeling the anxiety not as a colonized person, but as an abandoned subject, when the British withdrawed from Singapore. There was fear but there was also hope. We were all then very nationalistic, people as well as government; for a while that is….the years after is as what you have written in this article. The aljunied magic has happened in the recent election, perhaps the rays of change may come through and hope restored, and Singaporeans can be truly proud again, as citizens, as a nation; without being coerced or paid to be proud.
“The power system continues only as long as individuals try to get something for nothing. The day when a majority of individuals declares or acts as if it wants nothing from the government; declares that it will look after its own welfare and interests, then on that day the power elites are doomed.” — Anthony Sutton Source: The Best Enemy Money Can Buy

Comment by JEFF GOH

Thank you Jeff 🙂

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Dear Rachel

Thank you for your blog. Your passion for a value driven society is truly commendable. Young people like yourself embody the real Singapore. All of you, are truly the sons and daughters of this nation. You make me proud of being a Singaporean.

Dont give up hope. The power of the elite and the apathetic middle class will run out of steam. In the not too distant future people will see the worthlessness of some of our “sacred” fundamentals. The MDP will then be taken apart. Justice will be punitive but more RESTORATIVE. People will be ghast as to how the majority could have unthinkingly allowed the MDP to be a part of our criminal justice system.

Till then we pray, work and hope.

Comment by Richard Samuel

Thank you Richard! 🙂

Comment by rachelabsinthe

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