Sunday, July 8, 2012

Singapore - A Nation Divided

 ... the division is getting clearer and more stark as those 'who thinks Father knows best' approach is the best ... 

I am born a Singaporean and shall die a Singaporean.

When I was young, I experienced the tension during the racial riots but 'that was a way of life' then!
I grew up in a village whose peace was broken when drugs were introduced to the teens & 'growing-ups' and gangsters fought for their turfs.
These didn't make me 'one of them' but I have certainly learnt to be smarter and more streetwise.
I am proud and enjoyed the many times I participated in our National Day's parades; thinking and feeling every bit a Singaporean. The belonging that seems hollow nowadays.

My growing up years were filled with challenges; poor but happy, struggling to make ends meet but daily meals were available, however, simple, hawking and finding jobs were easier, costs were manageable, queuing for communal water supply cuts utility costs yet built comradeship and a sense of belonging.

As Singapore moved from labour intensive to capital intensive and value-add industries to service-centric banking, hospitality and health domains, Singapore lost her Soul in the rush! It is not rash to say 'it is for each, themself'! **SAD**

“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”  Mark Twain

I can accept changes as part of social and economic evolution but I cannot accept elitism, class division, favouritism and blind loyalty.

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?” Mahatma Gandhi

During tumultuous times, a hard driving independently-thinking leader unites a nation (Suharto @Indonesia, Lee Kuan Yew @Singapore, Marcos @Philippines, Tunku @Malaysia) 国家:为国才为家 The people rally behind their leaders as 'we are one' forging ahead into a promising albeit uncertain future.

Most succeeded but some failed when 为家才为国;没有国那会有家哪?)successes get into their heads; when meritocracy gives way to favouritism, selfish agendas and clanmanship, the Nation decayed and collapsed. It not when, it's how soon?

What is in store for Singapore?

Surely, my 5mil fellowmen can give me enough lessons, opinions and lectures to last my lifetime. There will always be two sides of any arguments and I am not here to change anyone, but I can agree to disagree. We cannot change the past but we can make the future better if forward looking solutions start with "Us" and not "I" (lording over You). Some contentious issues that were not glaring before 1990.

Population - including transit population, we have more than 6 mil; let us make economic sense, gains and multiplier to create jobs and income. What is the point of bringing more people here to feed on a meagre meal?

Talents - it augurs well to correct this misnomer; not everyone who comes to Singapore is a talent. There will always be some jobs that Singaporeans do not like or want, or simply not having the skillsets nor attitude to do; foreigners are welcome to fill this gap. If you keep insisting that your neighbours' kids are more talented than yours, soon they will be calling them 'dad', not you!

Education - education arms the people with skills necessary to climb the social ladder. More should be spent on, and more spaces should be made available to, locals at affordable fees. Let's be real; how many foreign scholars stay to help build Singapore? Like defence, it's nothing like one of our own. Can you safely rely on foreigners for defence? Does it pay to bring in second rated foreigners as scholars only to have them leave? Worse still, some speak ills of Singapore & Singaporeans! 

Jobs - it is fairly hard for a fresh graduate to get an interview let alone a job of their choice. For the 40s - 50s PMETs, it is almost impossible to get a job of similar status and pay, if you loss your job! Anyone care to dispute? When wages are suppressed and the population live below their decent breakeven point, there can only be disquietness and stress. 

Housing - the State must continue to do what she has been doing well all these years, that is, providing affordable housing vis-a-vis the income levels of our aspiring growing-ups and leave the private sector alone. With a roof over the head and a fairly stable job, comes a peace of mind. Storks and creativity shall fly when the mind is less stress. If you cannot even provide enough affordable housing, why worry about shoebox homes developed by the private sector? 

Health - there has to be some assurances that health costs, health care & specialists treatment are affordable to anyone, rich or poor. Shortages of beds and doctor-patients ratio imbalances must be addressed immediately. What comfort can the State give if these problems are recurring; the buck stops here. If everything can be solved by money (assuming everyone has money), the State is redundant. The State does not exist in a vacuum. 

Infrastructure - the supposed talents and powers-to-be miss this by a mile. The lack of maintenance and expansion amidst glaringly sinful profits at our public transportation sectors reek of indifference and profit 'at all cost' like any monopolist, without regards to commuters' welfare and safety.  

Costs of Living - rising inflation, increased costs of essentials and utilities and GST hit the poor most. Why do we need to reinvent the wheel to collect first, then give rebates; Job creation or just creating work to safeguard their jobs? 

If you are in the privilege class, you can enjoy an $8 open heart surgery. If you can afford it, you can buy a $2,000 bike or a $1,200 chair. But, for most of us, we are just living (human) digits in the system, longing for fairness, equity and a sense of proportion.

What is your value proportion?

The cries of the laymen is not a cry in the wilderness. A good leader leads his men to victory and comfort. An excellent leader eats and shares his men's aspirations, feelings and longings.

You can fool all the people sometimes, most of the times but NOT everytime.

A Nation divided will drown into the trash of times. When was the last time you feel belonged and united?

For Singaporeans, by Singaporean

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