by Joseph Nathan
This September marks the 22nd anniversary of Mother Teresa’s passing. Besides being canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church in 2016, awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and being honoured by the United Nation when it establishes 5th September as the Day of Charity, this humble soul continues to mesmerize people the world over even in death.
As a young nation struggling to find our identity and place in an ever-challenging global environment, children in Singapore have a lot to learn from her act of charity and compassion. Academic alone does not bring us happiness as life on earth is clearly more than all the material successes can offer. Let us adults not undermine the potential of our youth.
It is good to be academically qualified but without a compassionated soul, one cannot empathize or relate to the many realities that confront us daily. This is the real problem that is threatening us as a nation. Just look at the growing pertaining issues, our weakening economic trajectory and the growing divide that is threatening to break us apart as a nation and the verdict is clear that the 4G PAP politicians are no longer able to manage the affair of our country.
Confused Leadership Undermining SG
Poor leadership is at the root of all these malice plaguing us as a nation. They have no qualms about spending billions on lavish monuments or celebrations but will query every single cent that goes to helping our poor, our disadvantaged, our vulnerable, our disabled, our situational challenged and our struggling elders. Confucius values mean nothing to them.
Without the collective consciousness to transcend these realities, we will degenerate as a nation. This is the Hard Truth that many Singaporeans are still trying to come to accept. While socialism may be a failed system in most communist countries, the need to balance our democratic-based socio-economic is not. Politicians have been confusing us simply because they themselves are confused and could not make a distinction between the two.
Singapore’s founding leaderships, from David Marshall to Lee Kwan Yew, from Goh Keng Swee to Devan Nair, are real and honest men who had put in much effort and sincerities in empathizing with the people. These are real “Tough Men” who had the audacities to embrace “Bold Visions”.
Their collective audacity, in turn, inspires their subordinates and our restless youths into action. It is this collective consciousness of our collective audacity, courage and camaraderie that makes us great as a nation. They addressed every challenge from the perspective of the need to balance our key socio-economic challenges.
While it is true that they are not perfect, many Singaporeans like me would place our trust in them. We voted for them without having to blink an eye because trust was the cornerstone that underpinned our nation-building.
Unfortunately, with their passing, these souls were no longer able to inspire a whole new generation of restless youths. Confronted by an uninspiring slate of 4G PAP politicians who are looking like “all talk but no action”, how can our youth ever be inspired? Here lies our greatest challenge as a nation.
Having inherited the legacies of our founding fathers but without an iota of conscience or sincerity, their self-serving interests are now distorting our national policies and turning our nation into a vicious business entity where everything is traded like the trading days of the Babylonians. We will not only collapse like Babylon but will also risk losing our soul as a nation should our collective consciousness be trampled to serving their party’s prosperity.
Career politicians these days are like kids, and when their disciplinary master takes out the cane or whip, they quickly fall into line diligently. Some rather cry than to speak up for fear of being “whipped” or losing their lucrative remuneration and perks. I always feel sorry for their families by the shame that these individuals bring upon them and our nation. PAP these days are like a bad dream that will not go away.
Good Leaders, Bad Wannabes
If they are as good as they claimed to be, they would have or would find the audacity to speak up for the people and themselves without fear, knowing well that they would actually be doing much better by leaving such a hostile entity. Where are their dignity and sense of self-worth?
The Hard Truth is that these politicians not only do not have the audacities of our founding fathers but they also do not have any real competence or courage to begin life outside of their political party. There may be a couple of sincere ones among them but what can they really do except to tow their party line. Seriously, since when has party-politics been allowed to triumph over patriotism for our country?
As such, they and their cronies are like fearful little children hiding behind the façade of their elected officials. This is what irked me the most these days as I watch these “wannabes” spin more motherhood statements but without any real care or concern for our working class, children or struggling Singaporeans.
Time to Inspire Our Restless Youth
Parents must take the lead by exposing their children to go beyond just attaining academic excellence. Without such exposure, we risk undermining the full potential of our own children. Liberal Arts have much to offer as a discipline and it is the cornerstone that nurtures critical thinkers like Socrates, Plato, Hippocrates and Aristotle, the founding fathers of modern-day Philosophy, Mathematics and Sciences.
Management gurus like Peter Drucker are not some mindless social activists. Their advocacies for the return to Liberal Arts are well-grounded. If we do not put in the effort to groom our future leaders to think critically, where are we going to find real leadership to lead our country and manage our strategic affairs as Singapore experience more severe headwinds in the foreseeable future?
Are We Too Little, Too Late?
Instead of talking about spending billions to address issues some hundred years later, we ought to be showing more urgency in nurturing our youth now by investing more holistically in them. With a projected burden of an aging society, their social burdens will be exceedingly heavier than ours. If we do not start by helping them to plant roots in Singapore with a more embracing socio-economic balance, these youths will fly away before we can blink an eye.
Why would they stay behind in Singapore when they are made to feel like second-class citizens in their own country from an early age, surrounded by uninspiring people and made to feel like a slave? When they look at how our elders are being treated, do you think they will find such an outcome to be aspiring?
When in school, some of them had already experienced the loss of university placing to foreign students and had to rely on their parents to fund their private education. When they start work, they had to accept lower remuneration than some of their foreign peers. When they think about starting a family, the high cost of our public housing and children education is like sky-high barriers. Faced with an ever-increasing cost from utilities, bills, taxes and basic essentials, their Purchasing Power is being eroded with each passing day. Logic dictates that something must give at some point.
SG Critically Needs Real Leadership
In 1998, Singapore has already identified these risks but to realize that none of our politician and union has been actively addressing these challenges for them all these years is looking like we have failed them as a nation.
Seriously, only the weak ones will not fly away. If the better ones were to fly away, we cannot fault them for not being filial or patriotic. Rather, we ought to be blaming ourselves for failing them as parents, teachers and social leaders first.
If our children can be inspired to embrace doing social good and contribute to our nation-building but without the fat paycheck of our politicians and President, then maybe we can hope that someday, we have our own Mother Teresa or be delighted when our children actually win a Nobel Peace Prize or lead some notable world organizations. But to do so, we need to vote into parliament some really inspiring individuals whom they can connect with or believe to get started. We need to find real leaders who can walk their talks to inspire our children.
In the upcoming election, I hope that as a parent, teacher, mentor, or as a social leader, we can vote some really inspiring leaders into our parliament and help inspire our restless youths before they fly away. We owe it to them. If we cannot be seen to be doing what is right, then how are we going to demand that they do what is right?
To keep to status quo is no longer an option with the current 4G PAP politicians. It is not beyond the imagination of our current Manpower Minister to be proposing or self-rationalizing for our elders to do a second National Service when they retire by having to clear tables or sweep our city-state for another few years.
Unless we can obediently accept more of such absurdities, we better wake up before absurdity like this becomes a reality. By then, we better not cry as we deserve what we vote for, till next election, and is provided that there are still some good people who care to stand up for us as the opposition.
This does not mean we vote blindly. We need to be equally exacting and should not support any opposition candidates that have a serious issue with personal indiscretion or who are plainly unfit for our public officials. Two wrong do not make a right.
As such, it is time we get inspired to do something really inspiring before it is too little, too late. Let us use our vote wisely as our children and elders deserve better.
This was first published on Joseph Nathan – Hard Truths of SG’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.