Shall we not confuse loyalty to country with loyalty to government?

Shall we not confuse loyalty to country with loyalty to government?

by Augustine Low

It’s incredible the number of people out there who equate criticism of the government and its policies with disloyalty to the country.

Is it genuine or feigned ignorance?

These confused or ignorant souls ought to take heed of the enlightening words of the great American writer Mark Twain:

“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”

Our duty and loyalty is first and foremost to the country. Some call it patriotism; it boils down to love of country and a strong bond with the motherland.

As for the government, its duty is to serve and protect, it has to earn the loyalty of citizens.

Citizens have the right to underscore and call out perceived ills, incompetence, tardiness and injustice.

What good is a country if its citizens perpetuate the silence of the lambs? What happens if citizens choose to see no evil and hear no evil, and leave their destiny in the hands of those who may not deserve such blind, unfailing trust?

For those who choose to speak out, it is said that the motive behind criticism often determines its validity. Fair enough.

Do most of us possess any ulterior motive? We level criticism at the government because we aspire for a better Singapore (and not just materially), and because we have a stake in the future of the country.

But there are times when motives do become questionable. For example, if Malaysia and Singapore were to get into a spat, and we applaud and cheer on Malaysia, what is our motivation? Are we then not shooting ourselves in the foot?

A word of caution also to those who find every man and woman in white repulsive, and every action (or inaction) by the government repugnant. If we lump all and sundry into one basket and label it offensive and obnoxious, we risk being all bark and no bite, and we end up shooting blanks.

Ultimately, though, there’s nothing worse than to be afflicted with the disease of silence and indifference.

Th day we stop speaking out and standing up for Singapore is the day we give up on our country, and on the ones who run the country.

Wouldn’t that be a sad day?

Augustine Low is a proud but concerned citizen. Voicing independent, unplugged opinion is his contribution to citizen engagement.

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