May. 2nd, 2011

With election fever high right now and everyone in a patriotic mood, I want to contribute by posting a bit about Singapore! 

When I was a young and dumb kid, the trend was to hate Singapore. "I want to move away, I want to emigrate, I want to go to Australia" in addition to "weather so hot, everything so expensive, kena sai". Singaporeans are expert at criticizing Singapore - you don't have to look overseas for haters! We're our own best antis.

But in recent years I've grown up a bit and opened my eyes and now I can say openly and unashamedly, I love Singapore. I love my home. I love its food, its "chin chai" (easygoing) culture, its diversity, its tolerance, its harmony, its heart, its beaches, its skyline, its greenery, its ships out at sea. Okay, so I don't love the weather, and I don't love Channel 5, and I don't always love the people (though I do love the people too, sometimes), and I don't love the cockroaches/ants/lizards who also call Singapore home. I may love Taiwan or Japan, and the US has a lot more open spaces and pretty houses and friendly people.

But Singapore is home. It's an island that our grandparents have worked their asses off in factories, boats, markets, schools, to build a country. It's a place where our mothers and fathers grew up in, played five stones, hung off buses, ran around in fields. It's a country with an amazing history (despite our early attitudes of "Singapore history damn boring"); it has gone from virtually a swamp to a highly developed and prosperous country. It is safe for women to walk alone in the wee hours of the morning, it is a haven for so many people from surrounding countries, it speaks any amount of languages, it has minimal corruption, it has had some fantastic political leaders and statesmen. This hasn't happened overnight, and no, it is not the typical development for most countries. Singapore is a country that has achieved its own peace, security, and comfort through physical hardship, through the terrors of war and occupation, through poverty, through racial riots, through political tension, through intelligence and diplomacy, through endurance and perseverance and hard work.

And so I want to say to Singaporeans: SINGAPORE IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. Singapore is worth your passion, love, and loyalty. Learn more about Singapore before you bash it as we've been socialized from a young age to. Take some time to read its history, to think of what your grandparents have done for Singapore, to think of the many, many people who have come from all parts of Asia and integrated together to build this amazing diverse community. Think of your Chinese, Malay, and Indian friends. Think of how the CBD lights shimmer on the Singapore River. Of the sunsets at East Coast. Of the glittering skyscrapers at Raffles Place. Of the talkative taxi uncle. Of the old men playing chess in coffeeshops. Of the auntie in the wet market smiling when she recognises you as a regular customer.

It's a beautiful country. And despite what happens in the elections, despite what the PAP may say about the opposition destroying Singapore, despite what the opposition says about PAP already destroying Singapore - remember it is up to us, first and foremost, to love our country, protect its own interests, preserve its beauty, and maintain it as a place that other people from around the world wish to visit, work, and live a part of their lives in.



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