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I had the good fortune of catching up with a friend recently during which she shared an article,
Of migration and the Singaporean diaspora, through my Facebook profile knowing that it would appeal to me.
Although the article is nearly a year old it is still a very poignant read, touching the heart of the matter that strikes deep worry over the future of our nation. The piece pointed out that more than half our youths, the future lifeblood of the nation, harbour intentions of leaving the country.
If it is right, then the outlook for Singapore is indeed bleak. It speaks volumes about their loyalty to and belongingness in their very own place of birth as well as their assessment of the quality of life here.
While chatting I proceeded to enquire from my friend whether or not she was still in Singapore. Her terse reply of “yes, unfortunately” piqued my interest immediately. I promptly followed up with a question of whether she meant it to be “unfortunate” for herself, the country, or the Government.
She laughed off the last notion, saying that unlike me, the possibility of her ever being “unfortunate” for the Government as a result of her presence here is unlikely.
I went on to explain the reason for bringing this up, that it was a personal choice a citizen has to make as the living conditions here in Singapore become more and more “unfortunate” for Singaporeans, and if not for ourselves, then for the ones around us.
Having been in the position of making such a choice, of being torn between staying on in Australia (where I did my studies not too long ago) or returning home, I gathered that there were, broadly speaking, three choices available to us citizens – all of them “unfortunate”:
1. Unfortunate for the country if we choose to leave our homeland for greener pastures elsewhere, the country loses forever the value, tangible or otherwise, that our talents and presence can contribute.
2. Unfortunate for us because if we choose to stay we suffer the consequences of poorly implemented policies and the injustices in society as well as the exploitation of the citizenry by the very people meant to serve us. And yet do nothing about it, or even worse, we pretend that it is all just a bad dream and will go away soon.
3. Unfortunate for the Government because if we choose to stay, we can endeavour to reclaim what is our rightful stake in this country as citizens instead of being “digits” that our so-called leaders like to refer to us as. If we stay, we can:
a. actively voice out on issues we care about through all available means,
b. shape the socio-political situation here through activism and other civil society related activities,
c. support or even join a political party such as the SDP and work to achieve our vision for Singapore.
None of the above “unfortunate” choices are easy to make. But there comes a day when we must decide, whether we want to or not, what we want for ourselves and for our country. Doing nothing is not an option.
Many have already made their decisions, consciously or unconsciously. As for me, I have chosen to stay and to fight for a better Singapore. I choose to be aware and I choose to be the navigator of my own life’s circumstances. I have chosen. What about you?
Jarrod Luo is the Hon. Secretary of the Young Democrats.