The following is an excerpt of a letter published on March 4, 2011 on TODAY online.
by Vinita Ramani
I read with interest Professor Tommy Koh's response, in The Straits Times on Wednesday, to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going. In his commentary, Prof Koh objected to three areas the Minister Mentor raised in his recently-published book. One was the state of nation-building here.
Prof Koh disagreed with Mr Lee's view that we are not yet a nation, stating instead that its people identify as Singaporeans first and as Chinese, Indian, Malay or Eurasian second. While I admire Prof Koh's spirited rebuttals, I am inclined to agree with the Minister Mentor on this one point.
I am a Singaporean. I moved here in 1991, became a citizen in 1999 and, over the past twenty years, I have interacted with young Singaporeans and immigrants from all walks of life. Our generation - those of us in our 30s - has learnt the textbook lessons of Singapore's success perhaps all too well. But I would hardly say that these lessons have stirred a feeling of nationhood.
Instead, the moral behind these lessons is that pragmatism is the order of the day. Prioritising pragmatism above all else appears to have resulted in the following set of attitudes about life which I have anecdotally observed.
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