The last five months have been quite a ride. I’ve met many many people – and from all walks of life. We have managed to put together a team for the new website – http://publichouse.sg – and did it in 3 months. Not an easy task, by any means. It took a lot of hard work figuring out what publichouse.sg would be about, so as to be different from others. It also entailed days and weeks of running around, speaking to many people, and also being invited by several to be part of their own projects and initiatives. More invites have since arrived and I am contemplating some of them.
But my primary and main focus will be publichouse.sg.
It gives me and the team the freedom to do what we want, when we want and how we want to do this. I must say that the team is an awesome one – the energy is high and the ideas have been flowing. I think we are all quite exhausted but this is because we have done so much work the last two to three months.
Life is strange, sometimes. It leads you where you thought you would never be able to go. It also leads you to people whom you never thought you would meet. And above all else, that is what keeps me going – the people I meet.
Besides the volunteers and the team at publichouse.sg, there are the ordinary people I come into contact with in the course of my work. In the last one month especially, the poor and elderly have occupied much of my time. I have learned so much from them. Like 66-year old Mathieu. A Malaysian PR who has lived in S’pore most of his life, Mathieu has several medical conditions, the most serious of which is the suspected prostate cancer and swollen legs. Both if his legs are enlarged very badly. He lives in a rental flat and survives on public assistance and donations from charity.
The thing about Mathieu is that he brings himself, swollen legs and all, to church everyday. This requires him to take the bus from Havelock Road to Thomson Road. It’s quite a distance for someone like him. Yet he does so. “God is my hope and he makes everything ok, you will see,” he said to me the other day.
At the end of the day, there is this question which I always ask myself: What are you doing all this for? It is a question which has occupied my mind the last 5 months. I ask myself this constantly. If one is to spend so much time and effort in doing what one does, what is the purpose, the aim?
And the answer always come back to these two things: Because things can be better, and I have only a limited time on earth to help make it better.
That is all to it, really. I have no political ambition. Do not have ambitions of wealth either. I do not crave fame. But I do have and crave for things to be better. But that is such an esoteric or vague thing to say, isn’t it? Everyone wants things to be better. Who doesn’t? I guess for me, it is in the belief in doing that will make things better. I can’t do much but I do what I can. It is the same for everyone on publichouse.sg.
And if we take the time, we all can do that little bit which adds up to something greater.
So, my own work is little – but it adds up when others join me or when I join others.
I know many are criticising the government for the way it behaves. Perhaps it deserves the brickbats. It certainly did screw up some things. But I feel that we have a choice: either we continue to keep criticising it or we come together and do something about it.
At times, I do sympathise with the government, to be honest. The PM, for example, has 3.2 million lives in his hand. Each policy has the potential to screw up someone’s life if not right. Some will say that they already have. And that is true. So, what do we do? While some are awaiting a change of government, I feel that is like playing Russian Roulette. It can go both ways – either you get a better government, or you will screw the country.
We of course can decide to take the chances. But perhaps a better way is to work with what we have for the moment. In any case, when will this “change of regime” happen, if it happens at all? In the meantime, who cares and speaks up for the elderly, the special children, the homeless, the unemployed, the abused, the exploited, the sick?
Sometimes, I feel it is ironic because those who are calling for or awaiting a “change of regime” are those who can afford to.
I am not one who is awaiting for a change of govt. If it happens, then that’s that. If it doesn’t, then that’s that too.
There are people out there who are suffering, who need immediate help, whose voices need to be heard. And, kick me if you want, but there are MPs – both PAP and opposition – who are on the ground doing their best. And I applaud them for that.
Anyway, it is my personal hope that publichouse.sg can inspire and empower – through examples in stories of people who are indeed doing what they can to make our society, community and country better – to inspire and empower others to step up and do something about what they feel is wrong.
To be honest, constantly criticising the authorities or those trying their best is passe. It is much better to try and set things right. You may succeed. You may not. But along the way, we all will learn. And better than that, along the way, you will be able to make someone’s life better, less of a burden.
And in the end, that is what we human beings should be doing for one another.
I am glad that I have been privileged to have met the people that I have, the last 5 months. I hope that I will be able to honour the trust and opportunities they have given me.