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

When Our Children Dies

When Our Children Dies

Dear Boys,

There’re 2 recent cases of deaths in Singapore that has attracted quite a large audience and attention.

One of them is a soldier Lee Rui Feng Dominique Sarron, who die in training when his superiors used more smoke grenade than needed back in 2012.

Another one was a youth, Benjamin Lim, who jumped to his death recently.

There is a lot of attention drawn to these 2 cases, as they are particularly sensitive, involving 2 uniformed services of Singapore. I’m telling the both you as my capacity as your parent, as a parent and hopefully, it’ll make sense to you,or help you make sense if you become a parent yourself.

Death is life’s only guarantee

While I don’t want to sound too philosophical; there is no escaping it. But we want to make sense of the circumstances around the cause of death. This is all the more pressing for parents. Look, your mum and I raise the both of you through sweat, blood, tears, poop, piss and all. We as parents sacrificed a lot of resources to bring our children up, so that we can see the fruition of our labour. When this process is unceremoniously interrupted, it hurts, a lot. And we want to find the person, event or whatever it is that caused the immense hurt, we want to lash out at someone, anyone, anything which is responsible for our children’s demise.

But death is inevitable. As much as I want the both of you to live as long as possible, sure as hell longer than me, at the back of my head, I’m constantly prepared for your deaths, under any, and all circumstances. Pull that back a bit, I’m prepared for the both of you to get hurt, maimed, under any and all circumstances. Its a psychological insurance I have to have, some dark parenting doomsday plan I keep deep in the abyss of my psyche. You both will die, hopefully long after I’m dead, and after you boys have lived a full and rewarding life.

But there is no guarantee in life, sometimes shit happens and we are left to pick up the pieces. This is particularly painful for parents, and when there is someone who is responsible for our children’s death, we want them to pay price for that, we want them to suffer the same pain we do.

But we can’t.

The pain is for us parents to bear.

Death can come anytime, boys. And death can cause much pain and anguish for me, but the pain cannot take away the joy, memories I already had. These happy moments will help me in my times of anguish.

P_20150315_225707_1

The case with Singapore Armed Forces.

Our country works in a conscript type model for military defense, which means like it or not, you boys will have to go through military life. Things in camp is very different from things outside camp. The military or SAF in specific, works in a very different way from how other organizations work. The job can be dangerous, stressful and very unpredictable, and people do die doing what they do.

While there are already tonnes of procedures in place in the SAF to ensure the safety and well being of the servicemen, how these procedures are interpreted and practiced are still up to individuals. And despite of all these red tapes and bureaucracies to make sure all servicemen lives through military life, sometimes they don’t.

Was it wrong for them to use more smoke grenades than necessary? We can all argue on hindsight, but in the SAF there are other ‘applied practices’ happening that is not in those procedures, safe or not? It sometimes doesn’t matter, the ends justifies the means. for this case, both officers are found to have screwed up and they have and will be dealt with. But is it suffice?

As a parent, I don’t think it ever will. But I have to continue to live on, these 2 men, soldiers themselves of the same uniform, made a mistake. They have to live with the history of killing a person with their negligent, while they are men who are responsible for their men, I cannot hold them solely responsible had it been my son’s death. Shit happens.

Life’s like that, procedures are not life. Life (and death) has a funny way of f**king up the best laid procedures. Humans must understand that Murphy’s Law is omnipresent and ever more stronger in the military.

images

The Singapore Police Force

In January 26 this year, a 14 year old boy jumped to his death, his name was Benjamin Lim.

Period.

What complicates the matter was that he was questioned by the police prior to that, for a molestation case. And this got everyone riled up. People started accusing the police of having a hand in the boy’s death.

The bottom line is, boys, for whatever reason life throws a wrench at you, please do not kill yourself.

If anyone of you do that, I cannot blame anyone else other than my failure as your dad to bring you up robust to deal with any shit that has been thrown your way in such a manner where your best response was to terminate your own life.

Nothing in life is that bad until there becomes a need for you to invite death as a form of self destruction. Stay positive and resilient.

If you have committed a crime, own up face the consequences. Real courage comes from making a mistake, admitting and have the courage to correct it so that it does not happen again. Life is full of ups and downs, when you’re down, stay down and have faith that things will turn out right. As long as your parents are there, we will go through this with you.

We want you boys to know that, death by self does not absolve you from all guilt, it never does, in fact, stay, fight to clear your name. Life is not a one way street, you can change, we all can, although some of the things done wrong are irreversible, as long as we are alive, we can fix it, but we cannot fix anything when we are dead.

The bottom line is the irony of these 2 cases. both the SAF and SPF are organizations that protect life, the other irony, is sometimes in doing their job to protect life, lives are lost. The people in both organizations are, people, just like you and me, some of them are parents, and they too have fears like mine, of losing their children before their time is up. These people want nothing other than to be part of something great, and sometime when they don’t they have to live with the dark history in their lives that they had a part in another person’s death.

Other links:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/nsf-death-high-court/2571680.html

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/dead-soldiers-family-sues-singapore-armed-forces-two-officers

http://mothership.sg/2016/03/mother-pens-letter-to-late-son-who-died-during-national-service-in-2012-for-failing-him/

http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/ps/2012/14nov12_ps2.html#.VtweHfl97cs

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/the-benjamin-lim-case-a-timeline-of-what-happened

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/the-benjamin-lim-case/2559674.html

http://mothership.sg/2016/03/police-asked-14-year-old-benjamin-lim-to-assist-in-investigations-after-he-was-identified-via-cctv-footage/