I am a few years older than Singapore has been an independent country. When I was born, my birth certificate showed that I as a citizen of the State of Singapore, and indirectly, a subject of the United Kingdom. Then Singapore joined Malaysia (along with Sarawak and Sabah (North Borneo)) to merge with the Federation of Malaysia to become Malaysia. On August 9, 1965, Singapore was kicked out of the Federation.
The separation was a swift kick in the butt that helped push this country forward. And what a ride it has been (and continues to be).
So, on National Day 2010, 45 years later, where are we? We have many things to be thankful and grateful for. A safe country. A realtively affluent country. A country that has shown that it has a Lion’s Heart (I know. I was part of the SCDF team in Banda Aceh. And, boy, was I proud to be a Singaporean). Above all, a fun place to live. But is it all that it is made out to be?
This year’s National Day slogan is “Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag”. Reasonably good tag line. Flying the flag is trivial. Living our dreams, harder.
What are my dreams? And why do I say that it is harder?
Here’s a short list.
- A fully accountable political system (yes, it is not fully accountable today). What we have is a system that has brought us to where we are today, but cannot reasonably be expected to bring us to where we have to be tomorrow. We need people in Parliament that are fully transparent and connects with the ground. I moved into the west coast area in December 2009. It is National Day today, and to date, the member of parliament for this area has neither visited nor sent a welcome note. I don’t even know who the person is (yes, I can look it up), but the least the individual should be doing is to say hi.
- Removal of the “walk overs” at elections. It is a travesty of basic human rights (Article 21, section 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Yes, there are elections, but the gerrymandering in Singapore means that the ruling elite can do as they please – and they have.
- Letting the forth estate flourish. The ruling party in Singapore has totally neutered the press and they are really no more than glorified newsletters of the ruling elite.
- Get rid of branding terms like “Mother Tongue”. It should be replaced with what it was referred to before as 2nd language. Other than a group of Malays and Tamils, no one learning Mandarin, Malay and Tamil can say that the language they are learning as a second language is their “mother tongue”. This branding is indeed how the ruling party (as the incumbent government) forces down the viewpoint (errorneous) of the first prime minister.
- Acknowledge that the Pinkerton Syndrome (see this as well) is still prevalent in the government and that we will address to fix it. I am hearing of stories of how the Marina Bay Sands owners has the Singapore government caught by the gonads as the MBS seems to be able to get away with many things that the Resorts World Sentosa cannot.