No Wish For National Day, Anymore


Today is National Day. So let me wish every Singaporean a happy National Day. 

I was asked what changes I would like to see in Singapore. Unfortunately it will be improbable that I can come up with any ingenious suggestions that will take Singapore to a golden age. I'm just a man on the street, average as average. My opinion is worth nothing, really. 

On a personal side, my answer to this question is very simple. The short answer is nothing. I was probably expected to come out with a wish list for such a question. In fact, every year some organisations actually do that. I can recall young pretty girls interrupting me during my reading at the top level of Jurong East Library where I used to read my weekends away with my good ol buddy. They flashed their big balls and asked us to write something on them. Unfortunately it wasn't the kind of balls we really wanted to write on. Instead they were those big floaty plastic things that would be thrown into our rivers at the eve of National Day.

Deploying people to collect the wishes of Singaporeans and then dump them into the river. So what do that really symbolise? I do not know. Who really reads them? Anyway,'the fundamental problem here is we are asking Singaporeans what they want in Singapore and what we want may not be necessarily good for Singapore. In fact, we have been struggling to agree what is good. A good example in the current settings would be economic success. Some love it, some hate it.

The Singapore I love deeply, the entities that held the strings to my heart till today, were long gone. I do not envisage it to return, no matter how hard I pray or wish. Perhaps, it was never there before, only an illusion that my young mind couldn't differentiate from reality back then. It was truly amazing and I feel grateful just to experience the wonderful memories that Singapore has given me then. After all, isn't an experience just an array of memories? Isn't history just a collection of experiences?

Singapore will never return to the state I loved a lot as a boy. Where I only could hear the shrill of crickets during my afternoon naps in our 3-room HDB flat. Life was poorer, simpler but a lot happier. The cranky conversations of my uncles and aunties have turned into solemn exchanges in knitted brows during gatherings over the years. Was it simply aging? Or simply the responsibilities of life? Or something else? I do not know.

Back to my wish for no change in Singapore. Any kind of change requires time to prove its effectiveness or failure. That is the disadvantage of active pragmatism. We are constantly looking for gaps to plug or changing the cog in the sprocket. We need to calm down and let things be. Perhaps our minds will be clearer to spot obvious solutions that emerge later on.

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