Monday, August 22, 2005

Why PM Lee cried when mentioning 1968 NDP?

There is a metaphor in this crying incident.

The 1968 National Day event demonstrated that even when we face great uncertainties and hardship back then, Singaporeans still stick together and grow out of the miseries.

But in today's Singapore, youngsters would just give up their citizenship that easily for greener pastures without second thought when they could not be satisfied materially.

The contrast is great and the worry or the inability of Lee's administration to address this important issue of National Identity has poured tears out of his eyes, that's why. In spite of NOT mentioning this biggest worry of Nationhood, his tears give himself away.

Goh Meng Seng


K.S. said...

With the seamless boundaries of internet and cheap and fast air travel, it is a natural event that people will turn to the greener pasture elsewhere when faced with a "uphill" problems. It's easy to avoid a hill by walking the grassland elsewhere.

Likewise, the greater influx (than outflow) of immigrants into Singapore is the mirror reflection of the current situation - Singapore IS still the grassland!

There is nothing to worry about people leaving Singapore, and not to be complacent, we do face a constant threat of being bypassed by the world in the following events:

(a) direct flight between Sydney and London will collaspe the 'old' thinking of a world-class transportation hub

(b) the completion of Kra Canal in southern Thailand will make PSA looking like a white elephant.

(c) an emerging India with low-cost highly educated workforce fluent in English AND the realisation of world-class comospolitian cities in China like Shanghai, H.K. and Chongqin mean Singapore will be sandwiched in-between.

Where can we turn to? It's for the PAP to guide us then. As the saying goes "Either you go my way, or the highway".

K.S. said...

hi Mr Goh,

I have a spoof-commentary on how to win a GRC in 2006. Maybe you can share your experiences. [Link]

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Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear K.S.,

It is about relativity. Most migrants treat Singapore as a stepping stone to elsewhere.

I think you are off the mark by comparing the "influx vs outflow"; a citizen lost is permanent, a migrant that come to Singapore, most likely to be temporary. Even if they get a citizenship, that's only a stepping stone to somewhere else. We are just a "transit hub", so to speak.

If you bet PAP could ever guide you out of this, that's pretty off too. They are one of the sources of problems why people are leaving!

Goh Meng Seng

fire888 said...

where are the majority of the immigrants from?

lets say msia - pop - 20 Mil
5% out = 5% of 20 Mil

lets say s'pore 5% out
5% of 5 mil

so does da numbers work for your interpretation?

how many are in the $5M category?


OMFG!! said...

i am born in Singaproe and raise here..

I feel that when i grow old i wanted to live in other country rather then Singapore..

But lastly i wanted a singaporean passport of my good travel use..

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear fire888,

The number of migrants in Singapore goes up to the hundred thousands, if not one million! About 25% of population in Singapore are foreigners plus PRs.

But that doesn't mean that we are alright even though we have a few thousands of Singaporeans emigrating out of Singapore every year. For the exact figure, we really do not know as it is top secret.

Goh Meng Seng

tscd said...

I don't think all youngsters are willing to give up citizenship at the drop of a hat. There are lots of us who may have moved out of Singapore to seek greener pastures...but it doesn't make us any less Singaporean. We take our values and Singaporean views with us.

K.S. said...

Mr Goh,

I DO share the same view (may not be correct until proven by statistics that we do not possess now) that these immigrants are not here for the longer term.

Nonetheless, here are some facts about 2004 (we cannot say we do not believe in statistics right?): Link

Total pop. - 4,240.3 K
Annual increase - 1.3%
->Total pop. 2003 - ~4,185.9 K
->Total increase - 54.4 K

Total birth - 37.174 K
Total death - 15.860 K
Net renewal - 21.314 K

Total immigrants = 54.4 K - 21.314 K = ~33 K (already minus off the outflowing emigration)

We are a country with more incoming immigrants than our net self-nenewal!

This is a good thing and a bad thing! We are still attractive (incoming > renewal). But we have a problem! Kuwait has more Palestines than Kuwaitis till they started to offer CASH for every live birth!

We have the same situation now. Sooner rather than later, we might become another province of China, oops, did I say they are mostly from China? lolx.

AG said...

I think why we can give up our citizenship so easily is because

1) We don't feel Singaporean enough. Aside from the cliched kiasu and kiasi stuff, there's not enough to bind Singaporeans together to Singapore. 10 years of compulsory education that has taught us nothing much of Singapore's history. By taking that away/with-holding that from us, how are we supposed to feel Singapoream when we don't even know about our history? -apart from the Sang Nila Utama and Raffles story that is.

2) We are pragmatic. Singapore has always been a pragmatic society. We weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding on a course of action. And when Singapore doesn't seem to hold up to the other countries, the logical decision would be leaving it.

3) We are apathetic. The government's tight control and them having the last say in almost everything is something we are used to. And when someone is making all the decisions for you, (whether you like it or not) naturally you'd feel left out. And precisely because of this, people find it easy to leave.

About the influx of immigrants, many of them are so-called "foreign talents". Companies do prefer to hire the "foreign talents" rather than one of our locals. Many a time foreign talents take over jobs of a higher position, which may cause feelings of resentment amongst Singaporeans. So in order to retaliate, Singaporeans migrate overseas. Thanks to the "Singapore brand" where our country is often associated with positive connotations, i.e. hardworking, efficient, etc.. Singaporeans overseas get better job offers than they would in Singapore.

*This is just some of my thoughts, and might not necessarily be correct. So please correct me if I've made a mistake. Thanks :)*

Lupin Tan said...

Dear Mr Goh,

1. Would you give up that citizenship if you have a better choice?

2. I feel that as much as we try to explain what we think what others feel, it may not necessary be the true because we are not in that person shoes.

3. Have you spoken to Mr Lee before in regards to this issue. If not, on what basis do you justify yourself on the comments you made?

Yours Sinerely
Political Monitoring Amateur
Lupin Tan.

blinki_dadi said...

Its not difficult to answer why singaporeans find it so easy to leave this place for greener pastures. The nos.1 reason is because for most of us the roots don't grow very deep. We are just singaporeans in name only, like me, most of my friends don't place much value in our citizenship. We look around us and see all the privileges handed out to foreigners on silver platters on a regular basis and wonder what is it we serve NS for.

Where's the free scholarship for us? Where's the school allowances and such. As it is, many of us feels sometimes its better for us to be PRs than it is to be citizens- at least we don't have to waste our time serving NS.
Singapore is runned like a corporation, hell, even our politicians are paid like CEOs, so can you blame the people for feeling like they are employees rather than citizens.

Most of us just feel like a small employee in a large corporation. So is it any wonder that people leave at the prospect of a better life, a better job somewhere else. Its difficult to expect loyalty from the people if the country don't seem to place much loyalty in us. For all the talk of nationhood, its hard to feel patriotism when foreigners (FT_ always seem to get preferential treatment over us- whether real or perceived.

As citizens, we don't sense much ownership in the country, everything is decided for us, even our so-called "elected" President. How to grow roots when your life, your destiny is seemingly out of your hands. So for many people, they would rather move out since at least it does empower them somewhat- having the power to at least for once decide their own fate rather than like the gahmen decide it for them.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear K.S.,

Please note that from your statistic, Total population includes EVERYBODY including citizens, foreign workers as well as PR.

Even when they talk about Residents, they include both citizens as well as PRs! How do you actually tell the difference in growth rate? Even for birth rate, it is not stated whether the birth includes birth of other nationality beside Singaporeans.

Let's take it that every birth is counted as a citizen, then the increase of "Resident" should be only about 37,000 minus the death 16,000 (assuming all deaths are Residents), we get 21,00 not 48,000. To become citizen, you must first become PR. So, I would say that the net difference between the two, 27,000 is the number of increase in PRs!

This is only based on the assumption that citizens that give up their citizenship is Zero!

What does all these data tell you? We are overwhelmingly dependent on foreign inflows! This is a very worrying sign.

Goh Meng Seng

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear Lupin Tan,

You have asked very interesting questions.

1) How do you define better? Admittedly, back in 1997 General Elections when PAP started to use HDB upgrading as a carrot and stick to lure voters to vote for them, I have decided back then that I should not allow my future generations to be poisoned by such political ploy. I happened to be a Cheng San voter back then. I have planned to emigrate once I have enough resources to do so.It is only in 2001 GE when I met Hougang MP Mr. Low TK, I am convinced that we could change the environment for the better. For me, it is an easy choice. It is either I do something to change the "bad" political environment so to justify my stay in Singapore or I just have to walk out, for my children sake. It is never about "greener pasture" in terms of how much I could earn. It is about the environment I want my child to grow up in.

2. You are right, I am in fact speculating why PM Lee cried when he mentioned 1968 NDP. I am not in his shoes or the worm in his stomach, I couldn't possibly know what's in his mind.

3. I have not spoken to PM Lee yet and I will ask him if I have the chance to. On what basis? From the words he mentioned. He said that nobody in that NDP turn away or ran away from the show even when there was a heavy downpour. The next natural extension is, how many of us will run away from Singapore when there is bad trouble in Singapore? To me, this is the best analogy or metaphor to his sentence.

Goh Meng Seng

KnightofPentacles said...

Just to offer some publicly-available data on the issue:

Foreign PRs granted to Singaporeans to the four of the top emigration destination.

The reasons being tracked by the Singapore authorities as factors for emigration.

Profile of Singapore-born Australian residents.

My personal experience about being discrimated against for employment in favour of cheaper foreign talent in Singapore.

I feel that our local wit MrBrown said it best when he wrote: if you treat your citizens like a corporation, your citizens are going to behave like pragmatic consumers.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear knightofpentacles,

For all serfs in the world, all would dream to be their own masters one day. :)

I empathize with your plight in Singaporea and wish you all the best in your new homeland.

I never wanted to be unemployed and that is why I started out my own little business. Though not extremely successful, but it is enough to keep me alive decently.

If you think I am born with a silver spoon, you are truly mistaken. I have to take loans to get my business started. It is just a matter of risk taking.

There are opportunities else where in this world. Vietname, Cambodia, China, India...etc. There are plenty of opportunities for us to explore. But we are not cultivated to take risks; risk taking is never a cirriculum in our learning.

However, this doesn't mean we should tolerate practices of discrimination in our very own companies. Who are the MAIN CULPRITS in discriminating locals, the aged and race when they do recruitment?

Goh Meng Seng

Lupin Tan said...

Dear Mr Goh,

1. So if you have done your part in "making this a better place" and things don't work out, will you still leave?

2. No one is perfect, no goverment is perfect. I believe that PAP could do better, make better decision and stuff. Question: So far we can see what's the problem exist, but so far IMHO, I don't see more feasible solution from the opposition party during parliament. What have been done so far is just emphasize of the problem.

3. The political image of the opposition image has been greatly tarnish in terms of publicity and media. How should the image be rebuilt first to win the hearts of citizens.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear lupin tan,

I have yet made interesting views here.

First of all, do you know how much committment one has to made to be in "opposition politics"? In your view, how many years will I have to put in to make things better? One election? Two elections? Three elections?

The fact is, I still have a choice even if I made my commitments to my party. I could just defy Singapore's brainwashing by NOT sending my children to Singapore schools! And I am planning to do just that! The question you should ask is, when will I be confident enough to allow my children to stay in Singapore!

My take to you is that I will have to commit almost THE REST OF MY LIFE to opposition politics; but that doesn't mean that I couldn't have alternative plans for my kids! There is a price to pay but as far as I am willing to pay, who cares?

If you know PAP government isn't perfect, don't you agree they need to be checked and balanced? "Feasible solutions" that's the million dollar question! PAP ministers need to be paid million dollar to come up with "Not so feasible solutions"! ;)

I would say as you proclaim to be a "political monitoring amateur", you should learn to do some research on your own on what opposition parties at large have offered which may not be "publicized" by our local newspaper, but have been adapted so far! Compulsary education, for example, was one issue being persued by Chiam ST for so long until it was adapted. There are many issues on education raised by Low TK in parliament that may never see the press; well maybe it will become too embarrassing for PAP government to be reported. CPF structures, which I have personally drafted the plan, which never see the press also and PAP minister has no comments on it. Even DR. Chee has put up a good vision and some practical policy points in his books!

You seem to beleive no one is perfect, but yet you believe someone must be all imperfect! Opposition parties must be all idiots in them? That's from one apologetic extreme to another crucifying extreme I see!

Do your own research, find more before you start to talk.

Goh Meng Seng

K.S. said...

Dear Mr Goh,

(1) Let clear some facts! Nowwhere did I wrote anything about 48K! I wonder how you managed to find that figure in my comments?

(2) I am as UNHAPPY as you are that our net immigrant is MORE than our net renewal (inclusive of PRs).

(3) It is the FAILURE of the policies of the government (e.g. 2-child policy in 1974 <- a reactive policy to curb population boom, a failure to notice the trend of demography in the industrialised world before we joined them) and the SEVERE dis-benefits upon not meeting these criterias (by the people) that leads us to the present situation! We have become an unfriendly and pragmatic self-centered nation.

(4) What the government is trying to remedy for their mis-judgement is to 'import' people rather than 'plant the seeds' within the citizens (inclusive of PRs and otherwise). I considered this step as another example of reactive policy to address current issues without making clear the impact on the future generation!

(5) Are we going to be the biggest company in Singapore - Singapore Incorporated? High turnover rate is a trait of any Singapore companies so are we going the same direction - high immigration rate?

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear K.S.,

First of all, I just point out that the 54K increase in total population should not be used. Instead, the 48K increase in residents should be used. This is deduced from the link you provided.

I mean if we want to use statistics, we use them properly. Of course, the conclusion may just be the same. However, there is a catch, we never know how many increase in citizenship are due to birth or PR turning into one. This is one important criteria to judge how "successful" in our FT policy to attract foreigner talents to become Singaporeans, not merely working here. And of course, another more important data would be, how many previously FT turned citizens, have ultimately emigrated out of Singapore.

We do not have such information to start with but our people have to bear the brunt of PAP's FT policy.

Goh Meng Seng

Hannah said...

I am a Singaporean. And will be until the 22 of Janauary 2006. Then I will become 21 years old and my I/C and passport will be taken away from me.

I was born in Canada in 1984 and have been raise and naturalized in Singapore since I was 5. Am I Singaporean? You bet. I speak singlish, I understand the culture, I love food, and watch Channel I and Channel U. Am I Canadian? According to my passport, Yes.

So what's the deal? Singapore, for understandable reasons, will not allow me to have duel citizenship and has formally requested that I renounce my Canadian Citizenship.

I refuse. I am Canadian by birthright. Politically speaking, I have always been more Canadian then Singaporean, since I am naturually a Canadian and only registered a Singaporean. But what does this mean to the person? I, in no way, identify with being a Canadian. I don't bother with the NHL, grumble about beef and lumber politics... i don't even know the national anthem.

I didn't leave Singapore because it couldn't satisfy me materially. Hell, I'd be having a cushier life in Singapore had I stayed. I currently live in a basement that has been broken into twice, has rats, and spiders like the stars in the sky. I miss the food, the cost of living is expensive, and nothing works. Singapore is the epitome of comfort and luxuary for me.

I'm in Canada because it offers me greater opportunites to be a human being. I won't begin to unpack that, but it's not becuase Singapore isn't good, it's just a choice I made in my life with regards to who I am and who I want to be.

We cannot generalize people so simply as either stayers/quitters. A nation doesn't comprise of numbers, it comprises of people. People have their quirks and so do nations. If Singapore is to survive, it will have to do so in it's own unique way, and it has to be organic. If people are coming and going, with a high turn over rate, that might well be a part of a nation's character. And it might be what it needs to survive. No nation is comprised of the will of it's government alone, or a certain political ideology. If anything, democracy or not, it will ultimately be the people and the society that decides how the nation grows.

I'm Canadian by birth but Singaporean by culture. But at the end of the day, Global at heart. Purely by active, conscious choice. But for reasons that go deeper then the false material glitz that was suggested. People are more then that and we cannot box up individuals into simplistic answers and political models. A nation was never spawned out of political/economic theory, and greater sensitivity and felxibility to its people is needed.

"You can mess around with your political theories, I've got people to feed" ~ LKY.

Great man he was.

Goh Meng Seng said...

Dear Hannah,

For a country as small as Singapore, we do not have much depth for errors. To take care of the stomach of its citizens will always be a priority but what's next?

Rumours say that they are going to review the immigration rules to allow dual citizenship. I do not know how it will work out but National Service is the tricky part of the equation.

Rumours aside, do dual citizenship solve the National Identity problem or enhance the problem? Nobody knows. I guess you are in the position to experience the complexity of dual identities within.

Maybe we shouldn't be a "nation" afterall, just a city that welcome anyone who wants to stay here. It would be more "BEARABLE" emotionally, just like Hong Kong as a city. They don't have "citizenship" but only PR. There is no burden of "Nationhood" that needs to be "protected", thus no National Service and thus no complexity on multiple citizenship.

But is this what we want for Singapore? I think you got it right there; it is the opportunities for one to be a human being that matters, never a question of nationality. That is exactly what I am thinking for my daughter too. Fortunately for my daughter, she would not have to face the problem/delimma in choosing "nationality" when she grew up! She will be Singaporean as well as PR of Hong Kong. ;)

Politically, I want her to treasure the Freedom of expression, speech and everything she will experience in Hong Kong. Hopefully one day, with this cultivation, she would appreciate what her father is doing in Singapore.

All the best to you for a new chapter in your life. Just maybe one day, when this Nation is ready for dual citizenships, you could be welcome back as one.

Goh Meng Seng

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Hannah said...

Thank you for succintly understanding the situation that a small margin of singaporeans fall under. It seems though (and it has been all the talk on the liberal side of the debate) that the age of the Nation-state has come to its timely demise in lieu of the rise of IGOs and the like. With the rise of the Asian tigers, Singapore has played it's part well in this wave of globalization and integrated markets. And as with trade and finance, the mobility of people increases. And we're not talking just 'labour' flows and 'human capital', but thoughts, dreams, personalities and cultures. It seems that the most logical path one would take would be that of global citizenship: the ability to write one's address in pencil, and to always have an eraser. It's the age of ME Inc.

But that doesn't mean that there is no sense of loyality to the society that incultrated us with an identity, albeit unique in it's 625 km^2 way.

I'd do anything to regain my right to sing your national anthem and say the pledge again. Just not at the expense of my fullness of being human. What good is a nation to me, or anyone, if one is not fully alive? What good is that for a nation?

J O H N N Y said...

Interesting. So much to debate upon.

skinnybeanie said...

The problem with this country is we are a country with no soul. Perhaps it is that we have not been independent for that long I'm not sure. But there must be something fundamentally wrong with the education system and the way we do things here that people don't feel a part of this country despite all the forced conscription.

I personally feel quite detached from this country. When I go on travel especially to countries with higher standards of living, I don't miss it that much here. I only miss my loved ones here. If I could relocate them with me, I would leave too.

mcdare said...

I think it all boils down to individual. I'm currently studying in australia and have not gone back to singapore for almost a year. What do i miss in singapore?
The good, cheap food, accessable 24/7. And family and friends. Thats all. I don't really feel attached in anyway to the motherland. But I'm planning on keeping my singapore citizenship while holding an australian PR and probably relocating to australia. The singapore passport from what I heard is pretty valuable and don't think i'll be ditching it anytime soon.

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Anonymous said...

Finally an intelligent blog maintained by a knowledgable person to allow everyone to voice out and share our private concerns and opinions about public issues.

I am a Singaporean working overseas in a nearby ASEAN country for the last 3 years, and I am one of the few Singaporeans who is ready and most willing to consider giving up my Singapore citizenship to preserve my free will and right of being.

To me, being in Singapore is like being in what sociologist Max Weber would describe as an "Iron Cage", whereby Her citizens are slowly being "reduced to a be a little cog in this bureaucratic machine".

Personally I do not feel any loyalty to a country that I grew up in for 30 years, even after I have served NS and completed my education in Singapore.

I questioned how could I possible feel patriotic to a country that does not even give me the chance to exercise my most basic right as a citizen. With all the walk-overs in Singapore's General Elections, I have never for once had a chance to exercise the right to vote, since I lived in the GRC that is never contested.

What good is a S'pore citizenship to me if I am deprived of this basic right to vote? Now I understand why many Singaporeans are politically indifferent.

I believe that in order for me to grow as a free human being, with the capacity to flourish in my own way, I must leave Singapore and stay where I am right now forever.

After 3 years working abroad, I realize how much I have learned and grown, how much I can contribute to my foreign company who employed me, how valuable I am as an asset to them, and most importantly how much they treat me as a human being and not as simply "a little cog in a machine".

I will be applying for a PR soon here and wait another 2 more years before renouncing my SG citizenship for my new nationality.

Disenchanted Little Cog

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