By Ng Yi Shu

Feature: National Day Week Series

Yesterday morning, TOC ran the 1st of 3.

In this installment, the editorial is the prequel to the series, and later in the afternoon we present the continuation of the series.


9th August marks Singapore’s 47th year of independence.

Many things have happened 47 years since. We acquired a citizen army, cleaned up our government, invited foreign investment, created an environment for stability, unity and prosperity, stopped at two (and then said “Have three if you want” ), remained open to technological advancement and generally became economically prosperous and wealthy the way our forefathers would have dreamed it. The results have been clear: we are 1st in per capita GDP ranking, 1st in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, 2nd in Wall Street Journal’s Economic Freedom Index and 16th on the Legatum Prosperity Index.

One may be inclined to believe that we’ve come so far; that we ought to do nothing about it. However, past the economic results, things are different. We are still stuck in the survival mentality we inherited during our tumultuous birth. We are born into a rat race, chasing after intelligence and knowledge so we can have the expertise to earn big money to survive – and after that, chasing after status to ensure that we and the generation after us has the dignity to survive in a world where materialism matters – a world where we feel we are not enough. We pity those who do not manage to win the rat race and hate those who have better opportunities in this rat race. We think of leaving, but when we look out of our own country, we do not find what we want there.

Yet, some of us believed in progress – in making our dreams possible, in building a new identity and in creating an equal country. Some of these people have gone into politics and government. Some, into alternative media and contentious journalism. Some, into advocacy and activism. All of these people have their own vision for Singapore – which they believe is possible for us to achieve. The National Day Week series features these people, their aspirations and their values – and invites you, the reader, to believe in the notion of possibility – that we are in power over our own destiny.

This series will also introduce you in the notion that our survival mentality is what drives separation and discrimination in our society.

This series will also ask the question “Who are we?” and suggest that the true answer to this question lies in our capability as humans to empathise with one another – to live in prosperity.

Finally, this series will invite you, the reader to make a choice as to who you want to be to make the society you live in a much more beautiful place – for ultimately, it is your prerogative, your right to choose the Singapore you want to live in.