Singapore is more than just PAP
I took the train on the circle line yesterday night. The opening of the new line has opened up new worlds for me and my family, especially because our house sits no more than 30 metres from one of its train stations. We have endured 6 years of piling and drilling and cement trucks, but all that is in the past. We can now head to Suntec City, and buy dinner home, all in the same time it takes to walk to the nearby hawker centre.
What surprised me on the moderately filled train was that one of the seats reserved for the elderly or physically disabled was left empty despite quite a number of people standing around it. It was nice to see the restraint. As I moved into the train, a young man sitting down offered me his seat, seeing that I had 3 bags of groceries. I smiled but declined; I only had one stop to go.
I stood there wondering if the rare display of courtesy and class was because Singaporeans have adopted a more gracious outlook on communal living or because I was looking at life through the rose-tinted glasses of someone who was just given a brand new train set with which I could traverse new parts of Singapore.
With talk of the elections looming, our main citizen-run political websites The Online Citizen and The Temasek Review have both degenerated into a toxic mess of bile and lost all sense of objectivity. The Temasek Review even recently published a post “The PAP’s Greatest Fear: An Aware, Active and Adversarial Citizenry”.
An adversarial citizenry? What are we, 3 years old? An adversarial citizenry is my greatest fear. If we allow ourselves to be tangled in this web of unresolved pre-pubescent angst, we will miss the forest for the trees.
Our elected representatives (yes, yes some are there via walkovers…) by virtue of the post, represent us. But if we do not know what we stand for, we cannot blame an overly draconian hand. We cannot enjoy the comforts we have, head to the homes we have, use a computer we can afford, broadband that is available, to complain unreasonably about the government that was chiefly instrumental in putting all these things in play.
There are many of us out there who enjoy the greenery of our parks, drink freely from our taps and are thankful for friends and family we have here by our side. We cannot afford to be a silent majority while a very vocal, very bitter, technologically savvy minority dominates this side of the discourse. It’s absurd that the state-controlled mainstream media publishes prozac-induced fairy-tales far too often, but to knee-jerk to the other extreme isn’t balancing it out, it’s creating an environment of schizophrenia.
A blogger expressed this frustration best in his Rocksonesque blog post “oi cheebye, be moderate can?”
Yes, the elections are coming. Yes we need to hold our politicians accountable for the promises they make. But there is a greater pressing need for Singaporeans to be able to answer this simple question:
We could complain about a whole lot of stuff. Most of which are valid. But surely there’s more we can do. I’m not talking about protests or demonstrations. I’m talking about leaving the reserved seat empty for whomever needs it, or offering to give up your seat for the perfectly healthy guy carrying groceries.
The answer to “Define Singapore” should be, “Yes we will”, and not some theoretical debate on some obscure blog.