LKY n his pap gangsters DON'T own Singapore
- From: "truth" <truth@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2010 15:45:16 +0800
By Dr Wong Wee Nam
13 September 2010
"It is important to guarantee the people's democratic rights and legitimate
rights and interests. We must resolve the problem of excessive concentration
of power, create conditions that allow people to criticise and supervise the
- Wen Jiabao Prime Minister of China in 2010
In 1819 Singapore had the good fortune of one man's foresight. A man by the
name of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles decided to acquire this swampy
malaria-infested fishing village for the British Crown and began to lay
plans to turn the insignificant island into a thriving trading centre. The
plans called for the creation of a town, a system of preserving law and
order, the development of free trade and the provision of education.
With this vision, Raffles laid down the embryo for the transformation of
Singapore from a hiding place for pirates, a stopover for seafarers and a
market place for traders into a more permanent society.
This was how Singapore was born and Raffles rightly took his place in
history as the founding father of Singapore.
Raffles may have planted the seed but it was our forefathers who had
cultivated this seed to grow Singapore into what we are today. In other
words, Singapore has become a nation because our forefathers had decided to
plant their roots and raise their families here.
Singapore has always been a small place with few natural resources. In the
past, it had to depend purely on the drive, determination, enterprise and
resourcefulness of its people to turn a fishing village into a trading
centre. It was these qualities of our forefathers that soon made Singapore a
trading capital of the East. It is we, their descendents, who have carried
on the good work and made Singapore what it is today.
The New World
We are now living in a globalised world and Singapore will continue to adapt
and evolve. As we change we need to remember that the global economy is a
double-edged sword especially for a city-state. It can make us richer and
more prosperous but the income gap will be widened and make a lot of us
poor. It can create jobs and depress wages at the same time. It can attract
people as well as fragment society, destroy our identity as a nation and
tear us apart.
To survive as a nation, therefore, not only do we need to be as resourceful
and innovative as our forefathers, we need also to be able to live and work
together as one people as they did.
The Conditions for Creativity
Like everyone else in the world, there is no doubt that Singapore will need
more and more creative people in order to survive. However have we the right
environment to nurture more creative people? A classroom with a hectoring
teacher cannot produce creative students. Similarly a country of cowed
citizens fed by official state opinions and ruled by lecturers who have this
habit of talking down to the people cannot be expected to produce a lot of
When I was a teenager, the song Puff, The Magic Dragon was banned. This song
was based on a poem written by Leonard Lipton who was inspired by a poem
Custard the Dragon written by Ogden Nash. Yet the authorities at that time
deemed that the words "puff" and "dragon" connotes the taking of drugs.
Nevertheless, after listening to the song for nearly forty years, I have not
even puffed cigarettes, let alone smoked pot.
In those days, the authorities saw metaphors in the ordinary meaning of
Nowadays, it is the opposite. The authorities see literal meaning in
Recently a young man was hauled up by the police for using a metaphor. The
authorities then and now may choose to interpret words literally or
figuratively, but the intention to control is the same.
This means that a writer now has to be very careful in using figures of
speech. By extension, there is nothing to say that a person may not be
charged for criminal defamation for using hyperboles.
Figures of speech are part of good creative writing. Metaphors are
expressions that use words imaginatively to enliven an idea. How can we,
therefore, encourage creativity if people have to over-censor what they
write or do and non-conformists are not tolerated?
Forty years on, things are still the same.
There is also no doubt we need to attract talented people from all over the
world to supplement and complement our own pool of talents. However if we do
not even have the conducive environment to nurture our own talents, this
same stifling climate will ultimately stifle any foreign talent that we
Foreign talents are not constrained by national borders. They are here
precisely because of their nomadic nature. This means they can leave as
easily as they come. Furthermore, the migrants of today are different from
Our forefathers came with nothing and had to start life from scratch. They
had to stay because there was no hope of them going back to their homeland.
The modern migrants are different. They are here purely for economic
interests. Having no deep roots here, and with a globally marketable skill,
they will leave as readily as they had come if they can find that a better
place for the cultivation of their talent. Many also still have a greater
motherland to go back to.
Money attracts talents. However, money will not be able to buy commitment.
Neither will it entice foreigners to rush in to apply for citizenship. Nor
will money be able to stem the tide of emigration by our own citizens, if
they are not happy to live here.
Ultimately whether these people will give their hearts to the country
depends on whether there is a conducive social and political climate for
them to fulfil themselves as citizens of the country.
Professor Udo Zander from the Stockholm School of Economics said, "Talented
women and men will look for societies that to the best of their knowledge
promise a way of life that they have been dreaming of."
In other words, they want a way of life that they dream of and not what
politicians think they should have.
Looking After Our Own Citizens
Our parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents had evolved a shared
culture and lived through a common history to give a meaning to this country
as a nation.
For Singapore to continue being a cohesive nation we need to ensure that our
talented citizens who have been born and bred here, or newly acquired,
continue to make this their home.
Yet many of these people or their children are migrating and migrants from
other countries are replacing them. If this persists, the majority of
Singapore's population will soon be fresh migrants with very little roots to
sustain us as a tightly cohesive nation. Singapore will then just become a
multi-national office for talented people to work and not a home for our
people and our children to stay forever.
Let us not for one moment think that it is possible, by patriotic
asseveration, to get Singaporeans who have migrated to a foreign land and
brought up their children there to have a heart in Singapore. They may miss
their friends and the local food, but in the age of travel and e-mails,
these deprivations would not make them feel homesick at all.
Singapore has a very short history as a nation. Singing national day songs
will not be enough to provide a strong cultural and historical glue to bind
the younger Singaporeans.
They need to feel that this is home. Unfortunately, the PAP's style of
government makes them feel like guests in hotel. Though better educated than
their parents, many have felt that they do not have much say in the affairs
of their country. They may be physically comfortable but there is little
The government wants its citizens to participate but it decides how, what,
when and where it should be done. In order for participation to have a
meaning, there must be real freedom to generate, test and implement ideas.
It is no use having lots of feedback sessions if these are to be just
grumbling sessions against unpopular policies. And the government should not
see genuine complaints as grumblings but as pleas for solutions. When people
complained against crowded MRTs and high costs of HDB flats, they are meant
to highlight problems that the government needs to address. They moan not
because they are victims of their own success but because they are sufferers
of poor policies. It is really a bad joke to ask them to stop griping and
think of the unfortunate in society.
National allegiance grows from a deeply ingrained sense of shared heritage
and destiny. And this can only come about through generations of
participation in shaping one's own lives in one's own country.
If we want Singaporeans to have their hearts in Singapore, then we must give
them the mental and psychological space to fulfil themselves as co-owners of
this country. People do not just fulfil themselves by being mere owners of
upgraded HDB flats.
Thus as long as we do not have a place that we can strongly feel to be a
home, we will continue to lose our talents and draw in second rate foreign
talents. If our climate is not conducive for enough intellectual inquiry and
critical thinking to the extent that many of our own people have chosen not
to come back, how can we hope to attract the really top talents from the
world to come here and grow roots?
If we want our people to think of home, let us feel at home first.
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