Tribolum.com Making Light of Things

We the People of Singapore

It discourages me immensely whenever I read comments from our politicians that conveys Singapore’s “vulnerability”. Just today I read our Prime Minister’s comments that the aspirations of Singapore would “disappear like Cinderella’s coach at midnight” were it not for the strength of our military defense.

Revoltingly ugly analogy aside, he is right of course. Our military has an important role in the security of our nation, and taking it for granted is a sure way to lose everything we have.

It wasn’t too long ago when Minister Mentor - the Prime Minister’s father - reiterated his opinion on how Singapore would lose everything in 5 years if we were dealt a dose of bad government.

Again, it’s highly possible of course. Anyone would be a fool to dispute these broad sweeping and ill-defined (how “bad” is bad government?) statements.

But what of us? The Singapore people? The ones who slog it out day after day. The hawker, the taxi driver, the road sweeper, the Shenton Way executive. Did we not do our part to build Singapore? Was our success solely the work of good government? Surely the people of Singapore had something to do with it.

Let’s get this straight. While many of us did not elect the current government, we chose the current government. We allowed the walkovers. We entrusted them with the running of the nation, and continue to do so. They’ve done a decent job, and we recognise that.

So dear politicians, please remember that we hired you. We pay your wages, even though we think they’re a little over the top. We have given you the opportunity to serve us.

You’ve done a fine job.

I speak for myself, because I’m not sure the rest of the Singaporeans mind, when I ask that our politicians be a little less condescending. I am grateful for what we’ve achieved and for good governance, but I hope this National Day that the men and women in white put aside the wall that divides government and people, acknowledging that they are citizen first and politician second.

That the people of Singapore will outlast political parties. That we are made of sterner stuff than our own government has given us credit for.

Surviving the Asian financial crisis? That was us. SARS? We were there too.

Our largest vulnerability isn’t racial tension, terrorism or bad government. It’s our dependence on the government for everything. What we should do with our lives (life sciences, engineering etc), how many children we should have and whether we should outsource their upbringing.

We need to realise that we, the citizens of Singapore, are one united people. Our government - our representative servant-citizens - ought to help us see that we aren’t a flaccid, spineless people, even if it means we become less dependent on them.

I wish so much for the you to realise that you have strength within yourself, Singapore. To persevere, to survive, to change the world for the better.

Happy birthday.