I always dream of Singapore 2.0. This dream is not something new – it is one that is shared. It’s a dream shared by greats like Lim Chin Siong, JB Jeya, Chiam See Tong and Chia Thye Poh. Many who dreamed it may not live to see the dream materialize, but the glimmer of hope that Singapore 2.0 will come to be is enough to keep the dreamers’ fight alive.
The education system would be a good place to start. In Singapore 2.0, there is no streaming. Every class has a nice mix of talents. When you fail exams, it doesn’t reflect on your intelligence, because in Singapore 2.0, we recognise multiple types of intelligence. Reviewing social studies textbooks once every couple of years may be a hassle, but it ensures that young minds know the Singapore story in its entirety, not just the narrative the powers that be feed. We’re also taught how to think critically – one of the biggest tools which help us put the right people in power. In Singapore 2.0, our education system will be one that will make the Scandinavians green with envy.
Next, National Service. In Singapore 2.0, there is still NS. We wanted to do away with it, but the world has yet to learn the value of peace. Therefore, we retain it while breathing more flexibility into it. Inspired by sporting legends of the past like Shanti Pereria and Joseph Schooling, deferment is available for those who excel in sports. In line with multiple intelligence, we also allow deferment for those who excel in music and the academically inclined too. Women too, spearheaded by AWARE’s fire to play a larger role in society, serve NS as nurses.
In the working world, the unemployment wage makes young Singaporeans less afraid about pursuing their true passions. BY law, no one should work more than 37 hours a week, which allowed us to spend more time with loved ones. Through the laws, we have managed to kill two birds with a single stone: Increasing the work-life balance and productivity at the same time. The benefits of working in Singapore 2.0 are too many to list, all credit due to the unions – real, independent unions. It all wouldn’t have been possible if not for NTUC ceasing to be.
Only museums remind us of how our pioneers had to slog it out for a living – ancestors from the samsui women to the cardboard collectors and the tissue paper seller. Loneliness slowly crept into their hearts as they spent their nights alone at nursing homes across the causeway. Even the mere act of reading about their hard labour in their golden years makes my heart weep. Thankfully, those are things of the past. It’s hard to see an elderly without a smile these days. In fact, you’re lucky if you even see one as most of them are touring around the world or enjoying their retirement in the southern islands – which was converted into a retirement resort for the elderly.
Singapore 2.0’s social safety net which was reinforced with titanium by the Government of the day does, admittedly, put some burden on the working class of today in the form of increased taxation, but the pay off at the end of the road is definitely worth it. Our universal healthcare system takes good care of us, Unlike the vast majority of Singaporeans in the past, we are also fortunate to actually see and use our pension funds.
Culture, culture, culture. Who would have thought that Singaporeans were once touted to be the most unhappy and unemotional people in the world? In a Singapore where one HDB estate gave birth to another and everything was pretty uniformed, maybe that wasn’t so surprising. Singapore 2.0 still has HDBs but we are now allowed to paint the exterior walls of our balconies and front corridors. An organized mess, a visual spectacle.
W!ld Rice plays are giving the cinemas a very good run for their money. Dialects, which were once near death, have also been resurrected. It’s hard to believe that poetry was once thought to be a luxury, when in Singapore 2.0 poetry is nourishment for the soul. ART is at the very heART of Singapore 2.0, as our leaders always boast.
Politics is sexy. Forget Parliament at City Hall, even the quality debates in SYP (Singapore Youth Parliament) will leave you astounded. I used to hear stories from my grannies that at one time, the ISA had made it possible for people to be locked up just for speaking up against the government. If ISA were around today, half of the secondary schools would be empty. All the victims of ISA were posthumously cleared of their charges and their survivors were paid compensation. Also, the children of exiles were given a grand homecoming a few national days ago – the video of them returning is a real tear-jerker, I warn you. Parliament is still white, but on the outside. Inside, it is a rainbow.
Singapore 2.0 is on the horizon, but it is up to us to go grab it. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” I hope someday you’ll join us, and build a new Singapore as one. Just imagine lah!
This essay was submitted for the “My Singapore, My Future” essay contest organised by The Opinion Collaborative Ltd, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s nationhood.
Comments from the judges –
“Really terrific, apart from women serving NS as nurses. Hey, women can be soldiers too!”
“I was particularly struck by the variety of socio-political views – and even political affiliations, as implied by some of the stances they took – that were represented by the essay entries. This is really healthy. Whoever asserts that The Online Citizen only caters and speaks to a narrow profile of Singaporeans can surely be proven wrong.”
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About The Opinion Collaborative Ltd
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