Tomorrow, August 9 2011, Singapore celebrates 46 years of independence.
The fact that we’ve been able to have 46 years of economic progress going from a relatively impoverished island of about 1.5 million people in 1965 to one with about 5.5 million today with a per capita one of the highest in the world is no easy achievement. Much kudos have to be given to the pioneering group of political leaders and their vision to make this a viable nation and to be able to rally the population to make the effort to pull in the same direction.
As a nation, we will forever be grateful to that generation – the generation of my parents. They did well and thank you.
And, as a nation, we have to move forward. We have to find the new normal. The new normal was established on May 7, 2011 when the population took charge of the collective destiny. The citizenry had cast off the yoke of fear of not voting for the political party that ruled Singapore since independence. It was a breath of fresh air and a newly found confidence in being able to do the right thing. Much kudos have to be given to the many players – the various political parties, the social media and the general assertiveness of a well education and well-informed citizenry.
Now as we observe the 46th anniversary of our independence, it is time to reflect what does it mean to be a Singaporean. Like any other nation and nationality, we have our quirks and warts and shortcomings. But, they are ours. We will work around it, live with it, and make it ours.
One thing that cannot be taken away from us – we are who we are because we chose to be that. We will never be perfect. But we will try hard to make it happen.
We demand full and honest transparency in how this country is governed and how we will pull together both in times of hardship and prosperity.
This National Day will mark the last time President S R Nathan will be officiating as the head of state. His term in office ends on August 31st. We will be having the presidential elections on August 27th that would see a new person in office.
The Singapore President was always a figure-head who officiated at events and was a rallying point for the people. The party in power devised a clever scheme to have the president elected so that he will have the moral authority to safeguard the substantial financial reserves that Singapore has built up over the years. This move, while controversial, did not set up the presidency to have the far-reaching roles it could play, except to keep the ruling party happy.
On August 17th 2011, we will know who will be contesting the elections and there is a danger of a freak situation where miraculously only one person was deemed qualified. Such is the system we have that it will be a crying shame if it turns out that way. The current president was NEVER voted into office, having had the seat obtained by default because no one ran against him. This should never be allowed, whether in parliamentary or presidential elections. There must be a minimum percentage of votes in favour before being granted the office.Walkovers are an abomination of human rights and the administrative capitulation of constitutional right to vote.
So, I look forward to National Day 2011, humbled that we have been able to make what we have and contented that we have a new normal.
As Singaporeans, we can be proud to take the Pledge and sing the anthem with all our heart.