Wednesday, August 04, 2010

(Old Classic) I am a Singaporean, by Dan E

Read the post by Under the Willow Tree on an old classic.

Brought back nostalgic memories. Blogging was a raging fever in 2006 and the government then was 'apprehensive' and 'suspicious' on the new internet media. During those times Mr Wang's blog was just 'Mr Wang Bakes Good Karma', and mrbrown was just er... mrbrown and the 'tur kwa' man!

Anyway this is an absolute wonderful piece of old classic which I am re-producing here. I remembered reading and immediately felt kinship with the author. Wow... how many of us go through life in Singapore like he did?

I am a Singaporean, by Dan E

I was born in 1970 at the KK hospital and grew up in a kampong near the old airport. My parents stopped at 2 after having my younger sibling.

I moved from my kampong to a HDB flat in the west-end of Singapore when the government exercised the Land Reclamation Act on my kampong to build new flats.

I schooled through PSLE, O-level, A-level, and took a 2.5 years Army conscription break before disrupting to return to NUS for a degree course.

I followed the Singapore dream: study hard, serve the country, work hard, listen to the government and have a good life.

I remember vividly an illustration from the National Education text in primary school where it depicted a happy family of four walking towards their car from a high-rise apartment.

I observed the property market riding waves after waves of increase and read the dosage of how “investors” harvested profits within weeks without even seeing the apartment they bought. Inspiring.

And I quietly wondered how I can afford a high-rise apartment. But I thought that the government has a plan and I went for my Reservists and IPPT.

I watched my mother fell sick, admitted for emergency treatment and ICU observation. I saw the hospitable bills piled to intimidating figures but I have one and just only one mother – priceless. I knew I had enough CPF savings to cover her.

I thought I knew, but the CPF Board knew better. I watched in horror as the clerk punched her calculator and calmly informed me that the combined CPF of my 3 family members could only pay for less than 15% of the $25,000 bill.

I wiped out my first few years of cash savings in one cheque. Little did I know, then, that this one cheque would go on to change my Singapore dream.

I researched the CPF and learned about the limited medical scheme, housing scheme, and the ever-rising minimum sum requirement. I found out that I can’t access my money even if I have a dying mother requiring an operation for which I have no cash to pay.

I finally understood why some old people say, “in singapore you can die but you better don’t fall sick”.

And I went for my Reservists and IPPT – but I began hating it for its inflexibility and infringement on my personal life.

I started asking “why”. I questioned and discovered that no one had a satisfactory answer, (or perhaps they just didn’t want to answer) – except for slogans like “More Good Years”, “Swiss Standard of Living”, “First World nation”.

No one, in fact, could tell me what constitutes a “Rainy Day” or who can decide if its going to be a rainy day. Certainly not the weatherman, I know.

I took up a job that led me away from Singapore, relocating to a few locations. Someone called me a quitter subsequently.

In Japan, I concluded that World-class transportation network is quite a bit more than just 4 lines running through the city.

In Taiwan, I realized that Singapore is really a western society that happens to speak functional Mandarin. I learned what is civic participation, media independence, and how absolute power will corrupt absolutely eventually.

I now know it is the electorate’s responsibility to ensure that the government does its job – not the other way around.

I married and bought my own high-rise apartment (not a cent from the CPF) – all outside of Singapore. I found out that I don’t need a car to complete the picture in order to be happy, or to support my ego.

I watched the post-911 GE and the recent Lee-junior GE. I saw Martyn See’s documentary on CSJ. I observed the emergence of political forums and their haste relocation from singapore, the evolution of the “persistently non-political” blogs, not to mention the blogs’ coverage of GE-2006.

I read with interest the emergence of civic awareness that are well articulated and presented on the Internet.

I am amused at the PAP’s apprehension of this new media, as well as its instinctive need to “fix” this emerging trend. I wonder how the new fix will reconcile with the new slogan, “Open and Inclusive Society”.

I continue to be amused by a shriveled 80+ years old man who persists in putting on his gauntlets and meeting his imaginary opponent in a cul-de-sac. And yet when the time comes for reckoning he backpeddles and calls out for judgement without trial.

I pay the government to do its job of providing governmental services to the country, including a fair, equitable and non-partisan method of upgrading older estates.

I didn’t pay to be told what can or cannot be expressed as opinions, be it constructive, partisan or otherwise. I have my wife at home to discuss freedom of expression – it is not the call of a civil servant or a minister employed by my tax dollars.

I have this to tell the civil servants and ministers: create more jobs, keep prices steady and try to move singapore upwards a little more in the Happy Nation Index. And stop complaining about how you cannot cope with rising oil prices, globalization, terrorism – you need to think really hard and come out with solutions.

And you do really need to worry about losing confidence because you are already there: through non-performance.

I am a Singaporean, who now understand the separation of State and Government, and who knows government must be managed and can indeed be changed (as opposed to some misguided musings).

I am a Singaporean, and I want a democratic society based on justice and equality. And I believe we will slowly but surely dismantle the obstructions accumulated from years of apathy.

So say we all.


Alan Wong said...

One lackey Minister even had the guts to say that they are deaf to all criticisms.

What the fuck are our PAP leaders including LKY doing nowadays ? Do they have any concience left ?

Chee Wai Lee said...

Thanks Kaffeine! Your post made me go all the way back to my first blog entry to reminisce about the inspiration for me starting my blog. That was MrBrown's call for people to write an entry "I am Singaporean".

I did not complete that task, but it sure started me blogging. This old article really does remind me a lot about how I feel even if my circumstance is very different from his.