50 Years From Today

I think it’s somewhat kismet that one year shy of turning 50, Singapore is going through her next milestone as an independent nation.  50 years ago, some considered her a backwater place with no hope.  Yet in 1965 against all hope, she was force to be independent and thrived into the 21st century.

With everything that has happened in the last month, it looks like the Singapore is going to turn 50 with yet another milestone under her belt – an unprecedented political awakening.  What am I talking about?  How Roy Ngerng managed to crowdraise the funds he needed for being sued by Singapore’s Prime Minister.  Some of my friends reckon he’s stupid and haven’t got an idea what he is up against, other friends think he is entitled to his opinion and is putting up a good fight.  Whatever your opinion is, it is raising a political awareness that is unseen in my lifetime.  For that I do appreciate what is happening.

I definitely don’t think he is stupid and am in many ways grateful that he cares enough about a policy to put his head on the line.  How many of us are willing to do that?  I guess that’s where some of my friends reckon stupid best describes – making unnecessary sacrifices for something you believe in.  Here’s where I love differing opinions and why it’s so very important for these discussions to be had for the continued growth of our very young nation.  I don’t agree with my friends that think he is being stupid.  I do think he is being brave to stand up for answers he believes Singaporeans have a right to ask for.  I’ve read his blogs and I don’t think there is anything wrong with what he is asking for.  No one seemed to be attempting to even address his questions when he was politely asking so I can see why he decided to push the button a little more.

Here’s my humble opinion, I’ve worked in the government, they do get some things wrong and they do get a whole lot of other things right too.  No organisation is perfect and that goes the same with the Singapore government.  One of the problems our government has is the lack of effective communications and officers riddled with fear of Singaporeans complaining.  In my experience, most officers do just enough so no one complains.  Nothing really wrong with that but when you’re a growing nation with intense competition to survive, just enough almost always doesn’t quite cut it.  That’s my issue with the civil service and my beef with Singaporeans is that we can really complain in the most nonconstructive nature.   Again in my experience, some of the complains that came through made me suspect that there are some Singaporeans with a tad too much time on their hands.

In the past, just enough was enough and that’s not to say some of us aren’t grateful for having homes, enough to eat, being able to walk safely at 3am.  In fact, we are grateful for all the good we have and also know we can’t stop there.  For all practical purposes, Singapore is as good as it gets but you know what, we can keep dreaming big.  So back to my point of political awakening and creating an environment for constructive discussions so that we keep growing and getting better.  Thank you Roy for pushing the envelop, that’s how as a society we will learn, both the government and the people.  It’ll be 2015 next year and I have a good hunch against all hope, we will be forced to evolve, build a democracy true to the heart of Singaporeans where people can offer constructive criticism and continue to thrive into the next century.

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