By Ken Yuen
I refer to the recent viral video by Stephanie Koh and the ensuing debates about whether it is compulsory to be proud of Singapore.
I agree that there are numerous areas where Singapore can do better in and there are many policies implemented by the government that I do not agree with as well. And yes, the People’s Action Party (PAP) government is definitely at fault. But that does not mean I’m not proud of Singapore.
Why do we place all responsibility on the PAP government for the current state of Singapore?
A country is made up by its people, and not just the government. There cannot be a country without its people. Therefore is it not also our fault and responsibility for the way our country has turned out. Is it not also our responsibility to right the wrong and fight for changes that our fellow citizens believe in?
Many people in history whether they are common folks or well-known historical figures have made tremendous sacrifices to the extent of losing their lives for their respective country fighting for change in the government, fighting to defend their beliefs, fighting to improve the lives of their fellow citizens.
Will any of them professed not to be proud of their country?
Their country might be ravaged with crime, high unemployment and oppression by the government but I dare say that almost none would say that they are not proud of their country simply due to the fact that they love their country. Just like no parent will say they are not proud of their children.
Why do they love their country? It can’t be due to the crime, oppression or low standard of living. I believe it is because a country is where our home is, where our family and friends are and where we grew up.
Just look at any country around the world, from the United States to Indonesia. Their citizens may blame their government for the numerous issues they are not happy with but they still remain patriotic and proud of their country.
So what do they do instead? They fight for change.
Our generation is lucky that due to globalization, we can migrate to another country relatively easily, meaning patriotism is now selective and sold to the highest bidder.
In Singapore as well as around the world, we see self-centredness and self-entitlement becoming more prevalent. It is all about me, me and me. Individualism while a good thing can be detrimental when not wield properly.
What make us greater and more important than our country? Why do we feel entitled to be born into an easier life instead of working towards it? Isn’t the benefits you enjoy now a product of the efforts of the previous generation?
What have you done and accomplish? Our country was built upon the sacrifices of our forefathers and we owe it to them to make our country a better place for our fellow citizens.
You can voice out that you are not proud of how the country has turned out, but to proclaim that you are not proud of your country, that’s simply being arrogant and selfish as well as dismissing and showing disrespect to those that have built it.
One might think it is just semantics, being proud or not, but it is telling of one’s mentality and maturity when one make such statements.
While change starts with disgruntlement, voicing of objections to the current state of affairs, we must be careful not to be narrow-minded and just purely blame the government or worse still, the country and its people. It that not adopting a “holier than thou” attitude and saying that we have no responsibility at all? So it is the government’s responsibility, other Singaporeans’ responsibility but not my responsibility?
If you are not happy with the current state of Singapore, make a change, no matter how small it is. Yes, a small change might not have any impact but it might inspire others to do the same. And if everyone else does the same, it will certainly bring forth a bigger change. One cannot expect to able to make a big change straight away without violence and great upheaval.
Being not rich or powerful enough to make a change is not a valid excuse. Unless you feel that making a small change is too much of a sacrifice to make or that it is beneath you?
The responsibility is on all Singaporeans as a whole, and not just the PAP government, to make Singapore into what we want it to be.
[spacer style=”1″ icon=”none”] This letter was submitted via Readers’ Contribution