Whither the love for Singapore?

A lonely flag cries out for some real love

A lonely flag cries out for some real love

Singapore celebrates its National Day on 9 August this week and there is sadly no celebratory buzz in the air. Many have commented that there are hardly any Singapore flags displayed by Singaporeans at their homes.  Even those buntings hung along the road by the state look insipid this year no thanks to the staid and same old tired design of   using smiley multi-racial faces.

I will like to share my thoughts on why so few Singaporeans are hanging up the flag or feeling the celebratory mood.  I think it is because many are feeling angry with the Government and disconnected with the country. To want to display the flag voluntarily, one needs to be motivated by patriotism and real love for the country.

Patriotism and deep love of the country has to be built over time and through pride in what the country represents to us. It is not about the numerous skyscrapers and fancy cars nor is it about taking part in government organised grassroots events and doing what the G tells us to do. Neither is it about working at a frenetic pace in a crowded city state packed to the gills with millions of people.

A large part of patriotism is about having a proud shared history, culture, heritage and a common bond among people who grew up and lived together in the same land. It is that deep happy feeling of knowing this is a warm home where we are truly appreciated and will be taken care of even when we are old. It is that sense of pride in knowing that our human rights are respected and civil rights are protected in our country.

Attachment to our country also comes with that warm fuzzy feeling we get when we revisit our well-loved childhood and dating haunts and our common heritage places many of which have sadly been demolished in the name of progress (For eg, I miss the lovely long stretches of sandy beaches of the original Changi beach, the smoky Satay Club and the Esplanade fronting the sea, and the many rustic open-air hawker centres where we dined under the stars.)

Love for our country also comes about when we know that we have a real say and ownership in our country and that we can be proud of the values our country stands for. What are those values at this point? I am not sure as I have mixed feelings about my country. And what I do not like is overshadowing some of the things I like about Singapore. What we are seeing as displayed by our country’s leaders puts us to shame about our country. We smell the stench of hypocrisy, elitism, selfish greed, and there is fear in the air as we see the ugly incessant fight for political power through unethical oppressive means.

It is not that we do not feel anything for Singapore. I am sure many Singaporeans do but at the same time, it is perhaps a love that has not had the opportunity to put down deep roots yet because of our relatively young history as a republic and our political situation under the PAP (let’s not forget many citizens did not get a chance to vote for years due to gerrymandering and the GRC requirement. Residents in Tanjong Pagar GRC still have not had a chance to vote despite waiting for over 30 years!)

This is my country, Our country. I know there are many, many fellow citizens who share my longing to love our country passionately.  And we do have much to love about it when we look beyond the politics and oppression of civil rights.  Putting aside the usual accolades of being a modern metropolis, I like how most Singaporeans are generally easy going and friendly (case in pt – I am sure everyone who’s taken taxi rides here have had several cosy chats with the drivers).  We may not be very expressive but we are friendly, kind and quite helpful too (just look at the generous donations and outpouring of assistance whenever there are news reports on people who need help).

At this point, the cynics may ask what about the kiasu Singaporeans? Yes we have our share of the selfish people here, as with every country. However, I do think the frequent Singaporean bashing has been overdone, in particular by the MSM in its sensationalising of its local news stories. Hand on heart, do you meet more nice fellow Singaporeans or Ugly Singaporeans in your daily life? It is definitely the former for me.

It also warms my heart when I see the different races yakking away comfortably over teh tarik in a mix of English/Mandarin/Malay/dialects and our very own quintessential Singlish. I also love seeing the increasing number of Singaporeans expressing their views on socio-political matters both online and in MSM forum pages. And I thoroughly enjoy the humour and wit displayed in the hilarious memes, cartoons and spoof videos! Who knew the supposedly passive Singaporean can be this vocal, creative and passionate?

When I see this new wave of passion, I have renewed hope that our collective dream for a better, happier Singapore can come true.  With hope and courage I believe we can remake Singapore according to the values that we want and make it into a country that we and future generations will be damn proud of.

For me, I want Singapore to be a nation known, not just for its prosperity, but more importantly for its warmth, fairness, compassion and generosity of spirit and heart. I truly look forward to the day when many of us will proudly fly the flag not only during National Day but whenever we feel like it just cos we love our country and are proud of what it stands for.

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16 Responses to Whither the love for Singapore?

  1. ;Annonymous says:

    Patriotism died long ago and is replaced by those willing to sell their services for a fee. No use trying to put the tooth paste back into the tube; it will not work. Just like that assinine idea of bringing back the kampong spirit after the kampongs have been demolished

  2. Angry Citizen says:

    Let me start by saying I am not a PAP member and neither do I hold any brief for them. I differentiate PAP and my country of Singapore. Not liking PAP does not mean I dislike Singapore, my country where I was born and brought up. Not liking PAP does not mean I do not celebrate my National Day. Not liking PAP does not mean I tell people never to return to Singapore like somebody who became famous overnight by penning such a letter in the internet. I will tell them to come back and change Singapore, put the soul back if they feel Singapore has lost its soul. Telling others to abandon Singapore is treason. Similarly, hiding abroad and “hammering Singapore” from a safe distance is cowardice. People like Nelson Mandela, etc stay put in their countries and fought for their beliefs and changed their countries and systems. Of course one can argue that people like Mandela had no choice becauae they were jailed and could not escape abroad. But the point is: they did not run away before they were jailed. Knowing full well they would be jailed and tortured, and yet stayed put to fight, that’s being loyal to the country (not the same as being loyal to the ruling party nor the government of the day). Common, celebrate National Day and be thankful at least we have a country we call our own.

    • nelsonmandala says:

      Angry Citizen says:
      “Common, celebrate National Day and be thankful at least we have a country we call our own.”
      …………………
      OUR own? with the PAP government who sell more than 3 millions citizenships to every tom dick and harriet from china to phillippines via myamer and india?

    • Jasper says:

      Strangely enough, you do sound like a stanch PAP supporter.

    • I share the same thoughts as you. I’m thankful we still have a country to call our own. I believe that together WE can do something. No matter how small or how insignificant it may be, we do whatever we can for Singapore, for Singaporeans and with Singaporeans… not for PAP, not for government, not for any political parties but for ourselves.
      I’m sick and tired of hearing ‘why don’t they, why don’t the authorities, why don’t god-knows-who do something about whatever’. I asked why can’t I do something for everyone.
      If anyone thinks our country is overrun by foreigners, elitism, mercenaries, cronies and whatever, why can’t WE do something about it?
      We’re no longer shackled by castes and chains. Why are we still behaving like we have to kowtow to the Emperor and wish for His Majesty to do something.
      Simply look into our own conscience and ask ourselves, are we doing the right thing? Is our conscience clear? Are we harming anyone? Then WE do what is right and not wait for someone to do what is right.
      Pardon my rantings.
      Happy National Day to all.

      • nelsonmandala says:

        ape@kinjioleaf says:
        Simply look into our own conscience and ask ourselves, are we doing the right thing? Is our conscience clear?
        …………….
        harlor.. i lived in braddell height..butt i gotta vote for ms ah THNG and senoir minister in marine parade..is this the right thing for me?

      • You gotta? Gun point at your head? People know who you voted for? You cannot vote for ms nonya and non minister? You cannot spoil your vote?

  3. nelsonmandala says:

    ape@kinjioleaf says:
    August 6, 2013 at 6:31 pm
    You gotta? You cannot spoil your vote?
    ………………
    u did asked do the right things..u did says is your consious clear?
    now u tell me nobody point a gun to me head?
    why do u need a gun when u can shift the goal posts and changed the goalkeeper and replaced it with your own incl the REFEREE…
    who set the freeman rules? ME? spoil vote? might as well sit @ home and watch CNA news..

  4. Prett says:

    They have transformed Singapore into a feudal society, with the elites standing and feasting on the backs of the voiceless and dispossessed. This is the new reality. There is a lot of rage…

    • nelsonmandala says:

      rage there is…
      reformasi..they not..
      simply becoz 60% hav enuff to eat drink N sleep on their aircon rooms

  5. Maykwok says:

    Yes, good observation. I notice that difference in my estate too. Just two days before the National Day, the blue blocks that line the AYE suddenly have a few rows of flags along the common corridor. Alas….how to let Singapore be a lovely place that most of us will be proud of. That is the greatest challenge for that we have to overcome before we can really progress from here.

    • Yes we have built a house but not rwally a home in Singapore. Next step is how to make this feel like a home truly

      • nelsonmandala says:

        imagined after a harday worked..u throttle home..u find yr neighbourhood is a ghetto with foreign faces and slangs beside some terrible accents howlin as u waltz by..
        can u called it a home? unless u wanna says u stayed in oxley rise/bukit timah 4th avenue…

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