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1 February 2005
I refer to the letter posted on SDP website by Gopalan Nair on 14 January 2005.
Nair stated that the average Singaporean ‘…walks, works and speaks, but he (sic) has been stifled for so long, that his thought processes have changed. Nair further claimed that …everyone in the free world would object to how their tax money are being spent except for Singaporeans who seem to go against human nature by remaining quiet.
As an average young Singaporean, I feel extremely hard done by his generalisations and do not think he is right to portray all Singaporeans in this manner. After all, Nair did mention that both JBJ and Chee are speaking out for what they believe in, are they not Singaporeans? What about those Singaporeans who voted for the oppositions, are they not speaking out through the democratic system of election? Not forgetting to mention the elected oppositions and their members who continue to maintain their commitment for their fellow Singaporeans despite of their limited resources, are they not Singaporeans? How about those Singaporeans who might not necessary belong to a political party but commit their efforts to establishing a better civil society, are they too stifled to think?
I believe they are just but a handful of Singaporeans who are speaking out for their home country. Therefore, for Nair to claim that Singaporeans are no longer alive is totally uncalled for and such a label belittles those who speak up – most unfairly. We do not have to look too far to notice groups of Singaporeans speaking up for a better society. Take the example of the recent proposal by the government to install more welfare rights to the more disadvantaged groups. I do not think the proposal has sprung out from nowhere. Instead, I credit its possibility to the many alive average Singaporeans who have played their essential parts in calling for its implementation.
Nair also believed that unlike Singaporeans, …Americans ask their government where their tax dollars are spent. I am not too sure of Nairs above statement, as I do not believe all Americans can be generalised as politically active or critical as Nair had portrayed them to be. After all, the collective Americans have not been able to prevent billions of dollars flowing into the War on Terrorism even when their welfare state is declining at an alarming rate. More significantly, in its own democratic manner, George Bush Jnr was endorsed by a majority vote to win his second election even after it was made known that billions more of taxpayers money would be extracted to continue funding the presidents crusade. Are these indications of Americans asking where their tax dollars are spent? Personally, I do not really think so.
By citing these examples, I hope to point out that Singaporeans are not to be generalised as not being alive. This is an absolutely false representation of Singaporeans! We are in no way more inferior or superior to any other nationalities or cultures when building our own civil society. One thing for sure is that there is no excuse for loose generalisations to our identities, as they are totally unjustified and only serve to disempower our people from thinking that they too have a political part to play in Singapore.
Lastly, on Nair claiming that host countries like America and Australia appreciating the work of Singaporeans, I can only be proud to know that Singaporeans are capable of working hard and achieving at home and abroad. I hope Nair all the best and wish he gets to appreciate the different aspects of what Singapore has to offer on his next trip home.
CHONG JIAN BING