Choosing to stay

February 7, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Muhd Husrin bin Tahale
Guest Writer

Sometimes when I have conversations with my friends I find that many (if not all) share one thing in common: they have an utter lack of faith in this country, they have absolutely no sense of patriotism, and their desire to leave this country is immense. I find this really sad.

It’s sad when patriotism and loyalty is replaced by greed and convenience. It’s sad when you reject the country that has raised you, nurtured you and shaped you the way you are. I don’t mean to sound preachy. I apologise if I do.

The number one reason for my mates wanting to fly off and not come back is the government. The PAP has vastly succeeded in creating a highly stressful environment. Who the hell wants to live in an environment like this all their lives?

The government treats us like cash cows. Part of our salary is taken and put into our CPF, which in turn is used to invest in risky portfolios. Remember, this is our money they’re using.

The government doesn’t give a damn about our welfare. Oh sure once in a while you read in the papers about how a government agency is doing this and how another charity is doing that, but these are all just token measures. These are all just to give people (mainly foreigners) a good impression. That’s it.

Now who would want to live in such an environment where we’re nothing but expendable beings who cannot retire when we want to because we don’t have enough money in our retirement accounts.

But like I said Singaporeans are people of little faith. Not many know this but despite its rather authoritarian stance, Singapore has political parties besides the PAP. Despite repeated persecution by the government, these parties actually present a real alternative to the PAP that has been ruling us since 1959.

What these parties represent, and what they are trying to convey to Singaporeans is that there is hope. Change is possible. In fact change is inevitable. But for this to happen, the people need to do their part.

But it’s hard when many just leave the island never to return. And it’s all thanks to our government. It’s hard when at the first sign of trouble, the first thing that most Singaporeans can think of is to flee the country. It’s hard, with such a mindset. It’s pathetic.

I’ll tell you this right now. I love Singapore so much I could cry. I dunno why. You can call me weird, or freaky, or whatever. If only we had a government that really cared for us and listened to the people, it would be perfect.

Singapore as a country has done so much for me. I have lived my entire life here. Everything I live for is here. Whenever I go overseas, usually short trips to Indonesia, a little hop down to Australia, or a holiday to Scandinavia that I had with my Dad in 2000, it was always reassuring to have someplace to call home, someplace familiar, someplace where you know you feel safe, and that’s Singapore. That’s how it is.

I’m going backpacking next year, and I’ll know in some way I’ll always have Singapore as my home. I’m proud of my country. I’ll share things about Singapore to my backpacker friends. But I can’t say the same about my government. I will spill my blood for Singapore because I know I owe her that much. This soil has protected me, raised me, taught me how to live. This country has given me an identity and I wear it everyday like a badge of honour.

You see people in other countries like Germany, or the United States, or Denmark or wherever, you see how proud they are of their country. Germans, Americans, the Danes, you can see the pride that bubbles in them when you ask them where they’re from. Could the same thing be said about my fellow Singaporeans? I doubt it. Really. I must be the only patriotic fellow among my group of friends. That alone speaks volumes.

Personally, I have faith in Singapore. It’s a historical fact that authoritarianism does not last forever. It will always fail as a system. Singapore can and will change for the better. The opposition parties are more than ready to take the reins of power as a true representative of the people. And when that happens, Singapore can then be said to be comparable to other First World nations like Germany or the US. Singapore’s society will become more vibrant.

When all this happens, Singaporeans will truly be proud of their own country. I know they will. Because I have faith in this country. I hope my fellow Singaporeans feel the same way.

Be proud of your identity, the language you speak, your culture.

I love Singapore. I hope you do too.