But Who Said Kampong Spirit is Dead?

Singapore needs social capital to build cohesion amongst Singaporeans, said Member of Parliament Mr Cedric Foo when debating the President's address in Parliament on Friday (May 30). 

He said there was a time when Singapore had "very high social capital", and called it the "Kampong Spirit". This was when neighbours looked out for one another and when people set aside personal interests for the sake of others, not envy, ruled the day.

He called for this spirit of a closely-knit society to be rekindled even as the country grows the economy and plug into the global economy.

Mr Foo also said that Singapore needs to stick to certain principles in order to do well and avoid pitfalls. This includes not burdening future generations by ensuring the government maintains prudent fiscal policies and financial discipline, he added.

The meaning of "Kampong spirit" can waver for each individual. To some, it means social cohesion among a community. To the others it can mean a sense of loyalty, self sacrifice, a code of brotherhood or for some, it simply means a ghost haunting a small village. In truth, "Kampong spirit" has no form or true definition. When it comes to societal conditioning though, "Kampong spirit" has been given a facade since the early days of SBC dramas. In the nice shows I enjoyed as a kid, commoners were often portrayed to love one another, such as lending the neighbour a piece of belacan  despite competing against her in a cooking competition. There would always be a villain in the show but he or she would always be destroyed or converted into someone better. Happy ending.

Though one cannot deny that can be illustrated as an example of "Kampong Spirit" but it doesn't define it. Let me put it another way. A gun can be regarded as a aegis or a murder weapon and that depends largely on which hands it is placed on. During the dire once upon a time, racial riots broke out on the streets of Singapore. It was a slice of history that nobody wants to reminisce or see a repeat of. Oddly enough, no one could see the unfortunate events driven by the so call "Kampong spirit". A clash of groups with plenty of "Kampong spirit" among themselves.

Since then, all organisations, including religious groups were required to be registered and regulated. Secret societies were eliminated fervently and so were the kampongs (literally) - in the name of progress. The people began to live behind closed doors and stopped talking to one another. The authorities controlled the racial quota of every living space so that enclaves would never be formed again, effectively killing 'it', or at least that was safely assumed so. Then they spent years wondering where had the "kampong spirit" shown in the television programmes gone to.

So is "Kampong spirit" truly nailed and dead? Like I said, only the fools who do not understand the true meaning of the "Kampong spirit" will  fail to recognise it even if it is staring at you right in the face. For the rest, its survival is as clear as the sky when strangers donated money to a single man too weak to fight a bully. The spirit do not judge what is right or wrong, the people do. So when the ignorant calls for a return of a 'very high social capital', he better knew what he was really asking for. For the "Kampong spirit" always ensures the people to fight for what they love and love what they fight for.

1 comment:

  1. But there will be fools. One such fool posted on my FB, "CPF, we see the personal needs or the nation need? Only for this life time or our next few generations?"

    That fool probably did not read the history and objective of CPF, or is an undercover IB, or is a die-hard supporter of the MIW, or any of the combination.