Is it just me or is the increased levels of nationalism in Singapore a source for concern?

I have noticed an increase in the “bigging up” of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the police force in the recent months with glossy advertisements of brave men in uniform carrying large guns. This coupled with the government’s increased focus on the threat of terrorism leads me to think that nationalism is being used to distract Singaporeans from the bigger issues in the country.

Notice how quickly members of our government turned the meeting of 4 Singaporeans with no political affiliations with Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir into one about loyalty. Note also Minister for Defense Ng Eng Hen’s Facebook post with regards to the National Day Parade. He said in his post that foreign officials would only be invited as observers.

This seems like a pointless statement to make because it doesn’t make any sense! Unless one is taking part in the parade, everyone (whether Singaporean or not) is but an observer!

Ng further states that “Let there be no doubt that the SAF will organise National Day celebrations only on August 9th. And to make sure that we can do so every year as Singaporeans, and not as any other nationality, the SAF pledge is to protect Singapore’s independence and sovereignty “ What about permanent residents then? Lest we forget, permanent residents have to serve national service too and in so doing, risk their lives to protect Singapore. Why is Ng excluding them?

Honestly, this just seems like a cheap pot shot to fan the flames of nationalism. One has to question why this is the case.

History is replete with examples of how government leaders have sought to use nationalism as a means to unite the people and distract them from the bigger issues in the country. Is there a concerted aim on the part of our government to use national security and nationalism as a way to distract Singaporeans from the rising costs of living and stagnant wages?

I have definitely noticed an increased focus on the military and authority figures of late. This trend when viewed in conjunction with reports of rising inequality is disturbing.

Instead of blindly allowing ourselves to get emotionally stirred up, we have to take a step back and assess the situation. Ask yourselves why we are suddenly seeing pictures of handsome men in uniform in public places? Why is the government hell bent on bringing up patriotism and loyalty even to the point of promoting exclusion (in Ng Eng Hen’s case)? Then ask yourselves what your concerns were before the hornet’s nest of patriotism was stirred? Have these been put on the wayside as our focus shifted?

If the answer is yes, ask yourself the chilling question – Is this a coincidence?

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