Saturday, August 09, 2008
A Nation without Empathy & Identity?
Way back in 2004, I have written an article in some forums with regards to National identity, entitled "Singapore without Singaporeans". I was addressing the eroding identity due to the aggressive FT policy that the PAP government has put in place.
Four years have passed and it seems that the situation has worsen. I was watching the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics yesterday with some friends. Obviously we are anxious to view our Singapore contingent to march pass. After waiting for quite a long while, we finally saw the Singapore contingent marching out of the gateway.
What disappointed us was that the flag bearer does not show any enthusiasm at all. Our National flag was nearly touching the ground while the Singapore contingent marched pass the stadium. In great contrast, a few countries' flag bearer that come right after Singapore were waving their flags high up enthusiastically. My friend then commented, "Well, what to do? We have a FT flag bearer that does not really understand Singapore National pride and patriotism."
I was quite shocked by his comment but suddenly I realized, we have come so far with this liberal FT policy. Just the other day, I met some youngsters making sarcastic remarks about FT whom they regard as cheap labour substitutes robbing them of their employment opportunities. And the conclusion is pretty standard nowadays, they would just plan to emigrate out of this country.
There is actually another dimension to this problem. It seems that the current policies put up by the PAP government amidst the high inflationary pressures have caused a wide spread of anger among the young and old. And this has translated into a lost of confidence in this land of taking care of their welfare. Typical Singaporeans have become disillusioned and helpless altogether, so much so that many of them are planning for their exits from this country.
This is especially so for those who have worked overseas and experienced first hand, the vast difference in governance and policy directions of other places. Many of these Singapore born citizens have decided not to return to this land altogether.
The harsh reality is strongly reflected by PAP government's unwillingness in dealing with the inflation taking a hit at our citizens. A typical comparison is made between Hong Kong and Singapore. Hong Kong government has waived diesel tax & foreign maid levy, withdrew their intention of imposing value added tax (GST), increased welfare spending, provide almost full subsidies for kindergarten education ....etc... making all efforts to help its residents to combat inflation. In contrast, our PAP government has refused to waive diesel tax but instead, increase GST, increase ERPs and the number of gantries even go to the extend of trying to curb wage increases! Any rational human being would come to this simple conclusion that the Hong Kong government is truly a CARING government that will help its residents to combat inflation. Hong Kong government has more empathy than PAP government, understanding the need to stop implementing policies that will add burden to its residents amidst high inflation.
The liberal FT policy to import cheap foreign labour substitutes just add to the squeeze on Singaporeans. While Singaporeans are generally obedient lot but such stress created by PAP government will have to have a let out. In the end, all anger has been redirected at our foreign labour becaues it is not a norm for Singaporeans to vent frustration or even criticize the PAP government openly.
PAP government's lack of empathy on its citizens will only create a situation whereby citizens will ultimately ask this simple question, what is there for a citizen in this country? No welfare, CPF locked and policies change numerous times to delay the citizens of cashing out from their CPF, only liabilities as a citizens, especially if you are male that required to do NS and yearly reservists, social contracts being modified as and when to the fancy of the PAP government, citizens will always be the FIRST to made the sacrificial lambs for any economic trouble but the last to enjoy the fruits of economic well being.....
The erosion of our National Identity is now hasten by PAP government's lack of empathy towards our citizens. It is no longer just about the liberal FT policy anymore. In time to come, we will see more and more hardworking, talented Singaporeans emigrating elsewhere and abandon what they used to call home.
When I watch Mr. Wong Kan Seng reading out the National Day message today, it suddenly strikes me that the PAP government has really buried themselves in cold logic and rationality when they try to justify their ill concieved policies as "necessity". They have forgotten the most fundamental "necessity" of the citizens in spite of repeatingly mentioning of building a home of prosperity and happiness for us. The necessity to reduce the cost of living and stress of keeping up with higher indirect taxes imposed by the PAP government. How could we possibly live in prosperity and happiness when we are asked not to increase our wages and yet, need to cope with increased cost due to policies made by the PAP?
I feel sorry for Singaporeans at large, really, to have given such a cold, heartless political party a blank cheque during last elections. I do not expect Singaporeans to revolt or even carry out peaceful demonstrations or labour strikes just like Hong Kongers. We are afterall, taught to respect authority right from young. But one thing for sure, many of us will keep asking ourselves that question, "What is there for us as Singaporeans?" until we lose faith and identity as one.
In the years to come, we may just witness more Singaporeans surrendering their citizenship of their birth place, surrendering to PAP's cold logic and total lack of empathy. We are definitely having a Singapore without Singaporeans in the making, all thanks to PAP.
I do not know whether to wish my fellow Singaporeans a Happy National Day or not because apparently we are not so happy after all these years. But I do hope my fellow Singaporeans could reflect on the happenings, largely due to PAP's policies, in these few years and start asking themselves, whether we should allow PAP to carry on their present path of ultra-capitalism in policy making? Walking out of Singapore is definitely an easier choice than fighting the whole PAP machinery. I have been through the process of fighting against PAP machinery and I understand how difficult it is.
In fact, before I decided to take the plunge into opposition politics back in 2001, I have made two considerations: it is either I quit Singapore for the sake of my next generation or that I stay back to fight and try to change the system here. I have taken the second path with a caveat set. I guess every Singaporeans with good social consciousness should start making the same consideration, before it is just too late to effect any change under PAP's tightening of monopoly rule. If they choose to leave this country, I wish them all the best. If they choose to stay back and fight, I will have full respect to them. But if they choose to stay put and do nothing to effect a change to the course of this country, then I would say, Singapore will be in deep trouble. Apathy is not a choice of survival but a destiny of total destruction.
To end, I just have to say, good luck to Singapore. We really need more luck than PAP's ill conceived policies.
Goh Meng Seng