What it means to be Singapore(an)

What it means to be Singapore(an)

Singapore is not PAP

Dear Boys,

Our nation’s 53rd birthday is upon us again.

The same ol’ National Day, same ol’ song, same ol’ nationalistic fever…

We Singaporeans aren’t a very patriotic lot, or it is very hard for the authorities to make us Singaporeans love our country.

Many of us feels that it is a government propaganda to sing song, does the National Day Parade to a great fanfare, put out spectacular fireworks (a.k.a burning taxpayers’ monies) and fly noisy planes, fly a really delicate and fragile giant Singapore flag.

Many of us has a misplaced association that the country is the political party. Or some of us like to hijack our nation’s birthday and politicize 9th August, every year.

Well, granted that Singapore has a kind of unique history as the ruling party, is singular to Singapore. So much so that, you cannot mention Singapore, without mentioning the ruling party, People’s Action Party (PAP). Certainly, one can say that without the PAP, there can never be modern Singapore. We can never be where we are without the invention and intervention of PAP.

For our country to mature, we need to move away from this mindset.

Yes, Singapore, as a country, and Singaporeans as people of this country thank the PAP for good governance and giving us what we have today.

But the National Day is not about the PAP.

Singing Majulah Singapura isn’t pledging allegiance to the PAP. Serving in the Singapore Armed Forces isn’t protecting PAP. We say our pledge, isn’t sucking up to PAP. PAP is PAP, PAP isn’t Singapore, and Singapore, for its whole is larger than PAP. Remember, Singapore was here first, long before there is a PAP.

Of course, key founding members of the PAP was involved in creating the National Anthem, the pledge, and lay the foundations of nation building. The PAP pioneers created the countless of civil service and government infrastructure we enjoy (and cuss) till today, and for the near future.

But saying these is not the same as being a PAP-centric person.

So boys, I say my pledge with pride.

I sing my National Anthem with pride

I hold my flag with pride.

That doesn’t mean I love the politics of the land. I love the land.

I served in the Singapore Armed Forces knowing that when the time comes, I will point the rifle at the enemy of my land. I’ll protect Singapore, and the PAP will happen to ‘enjoy’ that protection by default, the other political parties will also enjoy that same protection. The SAF protects Singapore, and whoever and whatever is on this land.

Because when the enemy wants to invade us, they wouldn’t care if it’s the PAP in charge or someone else, they want our land, our people and all that we love. Our enemies want our destruction and end. Those out there who wants Singapore dead and gone, wants everyone dead and gone, ruling party and all.

So learn to sing our Singapore songs with pride, I know we Singaporeans have a sense of quiet modest, confidence, we don’t thump our chest a lot, nor brag about our achievements. So it is alright that on one day, every year, 9th August, let’s celebrate our nation building. Put all petty politics aside, and like the Hard Rock slogan says, “Love all, Serve all”. And true to our Pledge “…regardless of race, language or religion (and politics too)”.

Singapore is Singapore

NDP 2017

NDP 2017

Dear Boys,

We went for an NDP preview on 2 July at the float. And this is a many ‘first’ for us.

  • First time watching NDP as a family
  • First time on the Float@Marina watching NDP
  • First time the parade gave me a “Hormat senja-TA” (More specifically, the Hormat was given to all NS Men in the spectators for our contribution to National Service.)

First time watching NDP as a family

I think as a Singaporean, we need to go and experience NDP live at least once. I did twice, once with your mum, at the old National Stadium, and now with you both rascals in tow. It was a good feeling as both of you are excited about going to the NDP for the first time as a family.

Although Ian you’ve been with your school last year as part of your schools National Education curriculum. Last year you went with your classmates, this year you were with your family.

While we try to faithfully watch it on our TV set, being there in person is something worth jostling with the crowds, heat and the distance of travel. The mood is simply different.

First time the parade gave me a “Hormat senja-TA”

I cannot remember the first time I watched NDP, but over the years the theme has changed. This year’s theme pays a lot of attention to NS men, as it is NS50 this year, where Singapore celebrates 50 years of National Service.

I’m glad I turned up for the preview, as it was a good opener for me. I remembered from one of the video clips, where one of the NS pioneers said their parents went through WW2, and when their children back in 1967 was called up for National Service, their parents expects their children to go to war, as the cruel memories of WW2 still lingers in their mind. So their worries are very genuine and well founded. For me, enlisting in March 1994, such worries are no longer in our mind, it was simply picking up a gun, learning soldiering and get 2 years of my life given to the country.

This year, the emcee asked for all NS men, past and present in the spectators to stand up to be counted. I didn’t wanted to as I felt that it was necessary. But upon my wife’s insistence, I stood up, and looked around me, men regardless of age, and race, stood. The parade commander Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) (NS) Lim Wee Tee, gave the contingent the command to salute those who stood. It was a tingling feeling up my spine, although, the Hormat was not specifically for me (I’m not that great), but it was a good feeling to know that the years I spend going for ‘meaningless’ ICTs was somehow vindicated.

First time on the Float@Marina watching NDP

I’ve never watched NDP on the Float@Marina before, this is the first time, I actually sat in the seat through an evening. I’ve jogged past it before, collect race pack there, but never really ‘used’ the place. It was something significant, although the float was meant to be something temporary, build so that we can still have NDP fun, while our old National Stadium was being torn down and rebuilt.

We sat at the ‘green’ sector which was great as it was close to the middle of the entire section. We get a fantastic view of everything and felt close to the action. The only worry was inclement weather, which thankfully didn’t happen.

I kind of like the NDP to be held there at the Float@Marina as it allows a water element to be encompassed into the whole show. Having the 21 Gun Salute on the M3G is always something very interesting for me. The Navy was also able to participate with their Rigid Inflatable Boat, and that added to the dynamic display, and also with an open sky, we can see the entire RSAF display, which is a wonderful feeling.

Same old same old?

A lot of people says that the NDP is staid and they always showcase the same thing, our nation’s rise from a small fish village, our trials and tribunals, blah, blah and blah. As it might seem to be a kind of ‘nation-wide’ brainwash, I feel that it is a good kind of ‘brainwash’, I like this kind of brainwash, as it is a constant reminder how small and vulnerable we are actually, and how hard our forefathers has worked to develop that strategic depth, in economic and social prowess around the region and worldwide.

This year, it was a little different, same, same, but different kind. There is the usual song and dance, and a lot of hard work by dedicated young and old fellow Singaporeans. I think this year there is more message on forward looking, and looking out for each other.

Of course, this year we have a mass display on mosquitoes and how we as a nation fought this small but deadly adversary. That was quite an interesting segment and it does tells the times we are in.

Terrorism

The other thing is of course, Low Intensity Warfare, ala Terrorism. We are getting messages from the state that it is a matter of time they successfully execute a terror attack in Singapore. There are plenty of hardware and software display from the security forces. The hypothetical scenario was slick and well orchestrated.

The real scenario wasn’t too far as well, security is quite tight, with the usual bag checks. Special Operations Command troopers were plenty, and despite of that the mood is still quite festive. We are Singaporeans conditioned to face such inconveniences daily and we are ready to take it in our stride.

The Usual Suspects

NDP cannot be complete without a couple of staples, which is our National Anthem, Pledge taking, and fireworks. Every year we get treated to spectacular fireworks display, literally burning up taxpayers’ money, putting up fantastic, “Ooooos and Ahhhhhhhsss” , which is always a crowd pleaser. Who says that Singapore is a place only for the pragmatics? We burn up our money, lighting up the sky with dazzling pyrotechnics and fireworks. Well, we do it, because we can!