27 March 2015

Nationhood and What Singapore Means to Me

This has been a week where nationhood has shed new meaning and interpretation in Singapore's history. In one week, the value system of what it means to be a Singaporean has come to the fore.

From the 63 year old uncle looking fit and trim in in his Temasek Green National Service uniform, to the uncle and his stiff salute of respect and farewell, to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Service Chiefs conducting vigil in full military regalia, to the businessmen who took the initiative to provide water and food, to the SAF quietly working through the night to set up tentages at Padang, to the long and patient queues from all walks, to the wonderful rendition of "Home" by our foreign friends from St John's College of Cambridge - these were the images. The outpouring of feelings were emotional and touching. Tears shed were a plenty, not once, not twice, but many times.

The remarks and comments from Statesmen past and present have poured in. From US, China, India, Australia, New Zealand and our ASEAN neighbours among the many. More significantly I felt were the remarks of those who have passed through Singapore some time in their lives, whether Singaporeans or not, who now lived overseas. The remarks were universal. All the spiel of political stiffness and supposed "oppression" espoused by many Western press were never supported by any of these views.

A friend quipped that this past week has done more good for National Education than 20 years' attempt at doing so. I so agree. It is not just the stories on national TV and press. It is also the many stories we hear from the veterans of that age, sharing their true feelings of living through that generation. Emotive, real. It is also the expressions on social media. Has any suggested that Singapore has been worse off? Few and far. It has been history coming alive for all of us.

Meritocracy, multi-racial harmony, democracy, equality and the rule of law. These are the make-ups of what forms Singapore. One that has benefited from a government that is prepared to think long term, making the necessary decisions and not the expedient, and that follows through on the commitments. Within this week alone, we have seen the exemplification of the level of efficiency and response of the government agencies. Would I want it otherwise?

SG50. Hurrah Lee Kuan Yew. This is the legacy you have left behind. The nation salutes you! My family and I, thank you.

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