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I am Singaporean XXVI – YOU Don’t Have to Care About Your Society. May 5, 2007

Posted by The Truth in I am Singaporean, Vol. I.
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So not long ago, goh meng seng published an article on what binds Singaporeans to our country. Apparently, many Singaporeans have left Singapore without a bad conscience in their hearts – at Singapore Day in New York, it was shown that Singaporeans are effectively bound to their country by one thing – their collective stomachs.

Singapore Day hinted at the troubling answer. The crowds thinned considerably as the stalls ran out of food. Few stayed for the entertainment flown in from home. Fewer paid any attention to the displays and booths touting the developments at home and that of overseas Singaporeans. In fact, there was a lack of interest in anything other than the food — and when the food was gone, there was little interest in anything at the event at all.

So, the national gel is reduced to something as shallow as food (although it keeps you alive, but you can eat any kind of food to stay alive – no more Singaporean food doesn’t mean you’ll die), kiasuism and Singlish (which our Gahmen has been trying to kill time and time again.) Does it bind our nation?

Historically speaking, i think it doesn’t. Singaporeans have long lost the bond to their nation in their quest for more money, and more money, and more materialistic goals. NS has been lauded in the States Times because it makes boys grow into men. And that’s it! I don’t see how NS has made us into flag-waving patriots. Indeed, if Singapore ever went into war, i’d be fighting for my friends and family, NOT some flag-waving general who sits in his bunker all day and visits the rear areas.

You say that friends and family bind us to Singapore? That is true to a very large extent, but do friends + family = Singapore? Nope. If your family all decided to migrate to Australia, would you go? Or would you find the Uniquely Singaporean Identity so hard to give up – there’s so much to let go of – that you’d stay?

Sadly, i personally feel that there is not that much to let go of – the difficult part about leaving home for good is leaving your friends and family behind. And THAT IS ALL! Did we build this society with our bare hands that we’d hate to leave it? No, we didn’t. Did we do our part to change the society according to our beliefs and ideals? No, we didn’t. There was never any enlightenment on society-level in Singapore. Those who have had their eyes opened packed their bags and left.

What is enlightenment? Enlightenment can bring money meh? Kant defined it as the process of a society of people becoming more mature in terms of thought and action.

der Ausgang des Menschen aus seiner selbstverschuldeten Unmündigkeit.

Is this happening? Kant noted that the immaturity of humans is actually their own fault – due to their laziness and weakness they refuse to become mature. In what way are they lazy? They are used to their present comfortable lifestyle, simply following orders and living day to day – as long as they’re comfortable, why put in the effort to improve things? How, then, are they weak? In bending their wills to conform with society, to follow laws, or the very simple fear of making a big step into another age.

This is just a condensation of Kant’s thesis on enlightenment. All in all, it just makes the new, the change look very very unpalatable. Kant’s vision of enlightenment calls for people to think and express their thoughts in writing – not by way of a bloody revolution.

Either way, i believe this is a big reason why Singaporeans have no bond to their society – they have never contributed to society’s cohesion, evolution and growth – they’ve only contributed to its money-making machine. Fighting society’s ills and helping society to grow as a whole is the Gahmen’s job. Not ours. We have no money and we don’t really like our neighbours because we don’t talk to them.

YES, it’s like that! In the past, Singapore was, i quote, the Paris of South-East Asia.

Singapore used to be the cultural centre of Southeast Asia back in the pre-WWII, 50s and 60s. This development is in tune with a more liberal political settings where hundreds of flowers blossom. You could even read about great debates between newspapers, not merely politicians.

Choirs, writers, song writers, plays, painters… etc. you name it you have it. Singapore, though economically speaking not top of the world, but it is the Paris of SEA in terms of the richness of its cultural development.

After the misadventure of “Malaysian Malaysia”, everything seems to change overnight. We have traded our cultural development and political rights for the economic miracle. The era of “White Terror” came right after that and lasted throughout the 1970s. “White Terror”? What “White Terror”? Some young undergraduates have asked me recently. If one is to write something critical or just a little bit similar to the leftist or communist literature, you will be call up for tea in ISD or even locked up. This is one singular political tool that has stiffen cultural development and even up to now, we still could hear of censorship on political interviews and films. A generation or two have been lost in this era of cultural whitewash.

The ISD still carries this element of fear with it today. Effectively, the Gahmen has taken the responsibility of building a society out of our hands – today, it realises this and tries to reintroduce it into society. But who’s going to change now? Everyone still has this fear that you can get arrested and detained without trial under the ISA. Everyone is just reduced to grousing and the Gahmen still carries on with its high-handed, day-to-day activities of raising taxes (but informing us, not asking our opinion, just to inform us) and their salaries. And to silence the yapping dogs which constitute the blogosphere, they just send Old Grand Master to talk to us, weave an apocalyptic scene of our sisters and loved ones working as maids overseas.

I have nothing against MM Lee. He belongs to the age when culturally Singapore was blooming. Sadly, that age is long gone and buried. Once he consolidated his power, Old Grand Master has been on a quest to retain it. As long as possible. In doing so, he made Singapore his machine – run by Lee’s physics, Lee’s mechanics, and using Lee’s formula. If you have noticed, everyone in Singapore runs like clockwork. Step out of line and get laughed at. When i came back to Singapore with tied hair, i got a lot of weird looks on the street.

It just goes to show how immature in terms of thought as a people Singaporeans are. People still do not dare to speak up, even if it concerns themselves. They just grin and bear it. How much can the people bear? How much more will it take? Will the Gahmen notice this? Will they start letting us care about our society so the identity problem will diminish? I can’t say. When will we become ‘mature’?

Take note that ‘mature’ in this sense is not taken in the Singaporean context. ‘Mature’ here means being actively concerned for your society and discussing these views without fear of persecution (or turning a blind eye to it.) – In this aspect, the opposition politicians can be seen to be ‘mature’. Singaporean ‘maturity’ is knowing how to take care of yourself. YOURSELF and not society. Personally, i refuse to believe that 4 million people can be so cowed. But seeing what’s going on at home and all the apathy, i can’t help but question: is it because the people are weak from the start, or is it because they were brought up to be weak and lazy in this aspect?

Oh, yes. Ideas doesn’t give you any benefits. Only free teh at ISD only. Better hurry up and earn more money. Money is important. The other man’s problem isn’t…after all, it is MY money right? Meritocracy mah! If you are earning 500 bucks a month working at some cleaning company with a horrible boss and no sick leave, it’s YOUR fault. You should have upgraded yourself/migrated overseas/died. Didn’t our Old Grand Master say that if we turned old and sick and unable to earn money we’d be better off dead? Die lor.

I posted ‘Appalling’ to see if anyone would post it on. And no one has. While i am not able to give a huge sum of money (thus some people will say i am being a hypocrite) at least it disturbs me. What disturbs me more is that people read it and forget it…

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Comments»

1. Ziyang - May 5, 2007

but the gahmen does realise this problem, which is probably why its ramping up NE and patriotic sentiments (albeit fake and pushy). But personally i think our generation without experiencing the toils of nation-building will never truly cherish SG. US had their 911 to galvanize them, but we don’t. You’re right, we fight for our family and fellow soldiers and not for the country. But in a sense, u’re fighting for her as well because all of us belong to this county and we cannot let her fall.

The current level of apathy worsen the situation. Not that our education system is helping much. Haha
its also true that SG in general is much less liberal than Europe but i think its also an asian thing. Hopefully social perception will change with time =)

2. Ziyang - May 5, 2007

oh btw i want to see u with a pigtail! muahaha

3. celluloidrealitys - May 6, 2007

pigtails, goatees..

that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I certainly don’t wish that this nation has to collapse before those idiots who have contributed to keeping it in this state, wake up.

4. The Truth - May 6, 2007

i meant it as just a little example. i’d hate to see it collapse too…

5. Ned Stark - May 6, 2007

Not to mention dyed hair. For males that is. It appears that having your hair dyed is considered…unnatural. And who can forget our dear friend, Section 377A of the Penal Code?

6. cookie - May 15, 2007

Now alot of Singaporean men dye their hair…but not blue, green or red la. As for long hair, some decades back didn’t they ban it? I was a little kid then but I remember men were not supposed to keep long hair ( was it the 70s or 80s?)

This little red dot may not collaspe but will become something else. Over time, it will become something that most Singaporeans will not want to talk about…because the people who run it has no souls… disgustingly inhuman.

As for Old Lee, I had a lot of respect for him years ago but not recently. I don’t wish him die etc but just wish him to shut up & retire gracefully, just like old people should age gracefully. MiniLee…it irks me to see his picture anywhere now……yucks


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