This is our nation

Picture from Cyber Pioneer Facebook page

Did you feel that this year’s National Day celebration was somehow… different? It’s a strange feeling. Maybe I’ve been on the “other side” too long. Or maybe it really did feel different – and in a good way too.

There seems to be more spontaneity, more anticipation of the big event (the annual parade). It felt that more Singaporeans were more willing to participate in the celebrations.

I was taking the train at Serangoon this afternoon, crossing over to the NEL line when I saw in front of me a crowd of people wearing red. Apparently, they were strangers and not a collective group going somewhere together. And when I reached my destination in Hougang, I saw red again. 

The past week or so, there were also more National Day videos online, apparently created by groups (including the Singapore Police Force!) and individuals expressing their love for Singapore. A group of young Singaporeans also took the initiative and the opportunity on National Day to spread some kindness as well – check out this great bunch over at StandUpFor.SG.

And of course, there were the political parties and the Government-led agencies which were extending greetings in various ways.

But the thing which caught my attention was the palpable affection among ordinary Singaporeans. It is almost surreal – but awesome to behold. I don’t remember feeling like this on any National Day. To me, they had always been one big propaganda campaign. But this year seems different. Even PM Lee’s National Day message, filmed at Bishan Park, while nothing to crow about as he delivered basically the same message as previous years, nonetheless was kind of refreshing. It’s the first time that he has delivered the message outdoors.

[I have to say, though, that the video itself seems rather odd. The background, as some pointed out, looks like it’s from a blue-screen or something. See for yourself.]

It has set me thinking that our society or Singaporeans aren’t a divided bunch, as some have claimed. Perhaps that sentiment comes from the results of the general election last year – when the ruling party lost a GRC for the first time, and had its votes drop by some 6 per cent.

But not voting for any one party does not mean the people are divided. In fact, it means the people are taking charge – which is a good thing. We talk of empowerment, right? But of course what we want to see is Singaporeans having more space, especially political space, to take the initiative and do things for themselves. I hope the Government will realise that this is a good thing, a very good thing, in fact, and should be encouraged.

Many a times, if you read what is online, it’s pretty negative. An alien visiting Singapore who only gets his information online would probably think that Singapore is the worst place on earth. But he would be wrong. There are problems and serious issues we face, there is no doubt about this. No one has claimed otherwise. But to be immersed in such negativity can only be toxic – not only to oneself but also to the wider community. It is an almost instinctive reaction to adopt such a mindset. The recent furore over our “foreign players” table tennis players is an example. Many were slamming the sports schemes without knowing, or even bothering, to know what it is about or what it encompasses.

That is not to say that I am not guilty of the same negativity. I probably am one of those who are most guilty of being negative, or tend to see things negatively in the past. But in the last one year, I have made a conscious effort to rid myself of such mindsets. And the truth is, when you do, you see things differently – and you become more hopeful, more empowered. I dare say even more courageous, even. [It’s almost blasphemy to speak of things positively in a sea of seemingly dark hopelessness.]

Not all about Singapore is bad. We have come very far from earlier days. And I am proud of Singaporeans, in the same way that I am proud of my country. Sure, there are issues and causes we face and there will continue to be those which I will continue to champion – and I will do so with the best of my ability.

At the same time, I also know that to do so, I would also have to avail myself to several things:

1. An open mind.

2. Gather information.

3. Make effort to see things from both sides, or all sides.

4. Arrive at an honest opinion after all these.

And if my opinion is supportive of any one issue, or any one political party, I will have the courage to say so – even if I risk being assailed, in cyberspace especially. This is what I have tried to do this past year. And truth be told, some of my friends have wondered what has happened to me. Actually, nothing much has happened to me, except perhaps being more able to see things from different sides – and being a happier person.

And one should not be afraid to change one’s position if one comes into more or new information. It would be silly not to.

National Day 2012 has left me with a strange – but upbeat – feeling. It is a feeling which perhaps has emerged from seeing things around me and how many more Singaporeans are stepping up. I am very heartened by this. And if more of us do so, we will indeed arrive at a place where we will be able to say that we truly love Singapore, our home – and honestly say that this is indeed our nation.


3 thoughts on “This is our nation

  1. Most people like myself dislike being forced to do anything.

    In our collective memories, we remember events, situations such as National Service, IPPT, every form we fill in: NRIC. Play national anthem in cinemas before movie starts. Ballot for kindergarten, ballot for primary school, joint admissions for junior college, polytechnics. Bid fo COE.
    These are situations that we are being forced to comply.

    When people do things spontaneously, and without being told, it is a symptom of true and genuine feelings.This is perhaps what makes it different this year.

    It is a deeper feeling. Not engineered by the rulers.

    And we all know when it is engineered. Its time they just let go of nanny strings. Before we can trust them, believe in them, they need to trust us and believe in us that we:

    – can handle our own CPF

    To do this they need to reveal all facts and be absolutely transparent.

    Threats and skewed statistics will not be accepted anymore. If they do not learn anything yet, they might as well prepare to look for alternate jobs now.

  2. Henry,

    To be honest I don’t really like this threatening behaviour which some have expressed – that either you do your job or we vote you out. And “do your job” means doing it according to “our” way. What if “our” way is the wrong way? Is the Government suppose to do it anyway?

    Also, vote out the ruling party all you want. That’s your right as a voter and a citizen. But then what? What comes next? This is a question which I think of a lot – especially when people tell me they are unhappy with some issue or with the Government as a whole. And I look at the alternatives and I am concerned.

    So, rather than use threats, or depend on hope, it is much better if each of us did something about the things we say we are concerned about. (Sorry, posting anonymously online doesn’t count as “active citizenry” in my book.)

    1. Yes, you are right. Threats do not contribute to anything.

      Yet we are threaten that our wives would become maids.
      Clearly, politicians have a job to do and they ought to meet the demands of the stakeholders.

      But not all politicians are leaders.
      Leaders will have followers. Leaders lead with clear goals and these goals are known to followers who believe that the goals are the same as theirs.

      Hope is never a good strategy either.
      But between the devil & the deep blue sea, it is still a choice is it not?
      If I were to suffer a fate worse than what is present, I would remain stoic and stand up to live through it, a consequence I have to bear. Its called responsibility.
      Rome was not built in a day and neither did it fall within a day.

      I doubt my singular vote can influence any electoral outcomes, and my actions, limited to comments in blogs like yours ( which I am grateful to you for allowing me to express my thoughts)
      Such ‘actions’ hopefully contribute to ideas and viewpoints. The ST would never select my comments for publication anyway.

      But I vote anyhow. Based on my views about the policies that the ruling party dictates. No, I dont expect them or any opposition to do things “my way”. What if my way or the opposition’s way was “wrong”? That is moot. We did not know if the ruling party’s way of “stop at 2” was wrong either.
      And I doubt if the COE is “right” or that allowing more foreign workers is “right”.

      Politicians here are paid handsomely and I expect handsome work. If not, ” will the real member of parliament pleas stand up?” The rest can do other jobs which may be more suitable. It is not a threat but a reality.

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