To Look Into Your Future, Look at the Current Old

It was amazing how the gritty 76 year old lady stood her ground and managed to finish her speech, despite several attempts made by the moderators of the CPF forum with MP Hri Kumar to shoo her off. The situation was tense and one could see clearly how the PAP grassroot members were visibly uncomfortable as the minute went by. One of them at the end even suggested that the speaker was 'crazy' as apparent from her body language. The real reason being, the commoner on the microphone delivered her concerns in the unconventional way, one which the whites will never get accustomed to whether or not the content of the delivery was meaningful or worth a thought. Needless to say, the moderator declared to those present that the old lady's views were 'non-constructive.' and reminded the crowd to be 'constructive.'

In her speech, the lady admitted how she loved Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP. She trusted the government so much that she felt that her CPF would be safest with them. So she did not withdraw her CPF when she had the chance to. Years later, she fell into financial hardship and admitted she forgot to pay her property tax after receiving reminders. As a result, her bank (POSB) allowed HDB to deduct the amount owing without her permission. She asked, "Is that ethical? Is that right?" and left the forum silent for a moment. With that, it bought her some extra time to plead with the MP to allow her to withdraw her CPF so that she could arrange for her funeral.

MP Hri Kuma response was apathetic. He explained there were rules within the CPF system and said, "As long as you know the rules and make your decisions, then you live with the choices you make."

The PAP troops might deem one such commoner crazy. 


Perhaps the old lady was crazy. If so, then she must have been driven to such a state by the rules that she didn't agree and was forced to abide with. Tell me, can a Singaporean not choose to participate in the CPF program? Can a CPF member choose to opt out of the Minimum Sum scheme? What choices were Singaporeans given and which are the of decisions we have the liberty to make? Unfortunately, meaningful decisions that impact a Singaporean's life are limited because choices are few and far between. Do we really have to make that hard decision at the Polling Booth? At least, for now, we should be grateful such an option still remains.

No one in present in the forum seemed to be sympathetic enough to give the old lady a hug. Perhaps nobody would like to be associate with someone who could only offer 'destructive criticism.' The old lady obviously lived way past her glories, she might had lost some of her memory and she might be just another typical grumpy old person but she was part of what the government loved to term as, "The nation building pioneers." She had been a school teacher for most, if not her entire career in her prime, a law abiding citizen who supported her government fully and contributed to the society in her own commoner way.

Somebody wise once told me, "To look into the future, look at the young." I respectfully beg to differ. To look into our future, we look at the current old. The old lady is just another Singaporean like you and me, we should be counting our blessings if our future is similar to her's and not worse as at the rate we are going, nothing suggests we will turn out any much different or better. To be sneered at voicing out in a public forum, to be silenced umpteen times and told to live with our decisions as the answer. Full stop.

Don't get me wrong. I am not implying that CPF should be returned to members at the age of 55. That is a debate for another day and I'm not even thinking about the issue. This isn't about the CPF but the fabric of our society, that seems clearer by the day to be void of respect and basic human decency for the people. I do recognise the need for rules and regulations. However, when we are compelled to the increasing compulsories of different stages of our lives, including how and where to live in the final stages, I can't help wonder when will most of us ever feel that the situation has crossed the line.

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