The growing discontentment

Recently at the NTU ministerial forum, a student asked SM Goh what could be done to give us a sense of belonging. I felt like I could connect to the student. I feel like I understand how he feels, even with all the defending Singapore statements. You see, I think the matter is rather serious when people like us start to feel lost. In NS, you have two general groups of people. People who are serving but do not see the point, and hence feel upset they have to serve. The second is people who see the point and feel the need to serve, and they are generally patriotic to the max. And when people like the student and I, who feel that NS is important, start to lose the sense of belonging and question what are we defending ultimately, I think this means the situation is growing out of hand.

Today someone wrote a letter to The Straits Times, and after reading it I felt that the person is probably out of touch with many of us. Even I, a student, can understand and empathise that foreigners are stealing the jobs.

But I want to address a paragraph in the letter:

It would be good for Mr Lim to ask himself why he was proud to be a Singaporean five to 10 years ago and what were the factors that made him feel so? What has changed since then? Have the changes made Singapore a worse place to live and work and bring up a family? The answer will be a definite ‘no’.

Why was I proud to be a Singaporean? Actually, I was proud to be a Singaporean simply because I was one. I felt I belonged and the future feels bright. What has changed since then? Well, suddenly everywhere in my school, I feel the presence of a particular group of people whose amounts seem to be starting to overwhelm us, and I feel like a minority, though that might be an exaggeration.

Have the changes made Singapore a worse place to live and work? Judging by how my Singaporean brothers and sisters seem to have much complains, I guess yes. It is harder now because of the competition. Bring up a family? Of course! Housing prices are sky high, people queue 5-6 years to get a flat and they don’t even really own it! How can the answer be a definite no? Are you living with your head in the sky?

But I agree, Singapore is doomed if we think this way. And hence it’s now time to correct the wrongs and un-doom us, if there is such a word. We are not the young generation complaining because we cannot handle the stress and competition. Take some time to listen and to understand that we are not. In fact, amongst us we have many passionate people who are willing to die for Singapore and are willing to contribute to this nation.

And here are the points we have to understand once and for all:

We are not against foreign workers who build our HDB flats
They are a necessity. We cannot do without them. We might not like them but we need them. At least they don’t steal our jobs because nobody wants to be a construction worker. So it’s nothing to do with those foreign workers. It’s the PMETs. And do you know when I learnt what PMETs stands for? When people complain about PMET jobs being stolen by FTs.

We are not against people willing to contribute to Singapore like we do
We welcome foreigners. We welcome them if they come with a true heart and treat us like equals. We welcome them if they want to stay and contribute to us. Not contribute to the economy by working, but contribute to society as a member of Singapore. Contributing few years and going off is NOTHING. We are doing the same except there is no going off. And we welcome talents who come in and show us better way to do things. We welcome all these people.

We are unhappy with “talents” that are questionable
Now is that so hard to understand? These talents who are not talents at all. By what yardstick do I measure such talents, you might ask. Since I am in university, I will use an example from the university. Talents who come in as scholars, getting free education and no bond? Firstly, why NO BOND? This makes NO sense. What are we getting out of this deal? Diversity? Load of crap. High university rankings probably. Secondly, how can they be talents when such people don’t even come within top 10 percent? When I was in JC, I always thought scholars are smart people who are pressured to stay within the top else their scholarship will be revoked. Now, I feel that a scholarship is just like a huge lie. A scholar doesn’t mean he is good. Why do we have such talents?

Well, to be honest, I think it is an inevitable result of globalization, that people mix around. The notion of a nation is getting blurred and the whole world will sooner or later feel like a mixed entity. But I think we forgot to take into consideration the feelings of the people living here. Everything new takes some getting used to. We take time to adapt, to grow. Even to reconsider policies that might be wrong. Perhaps we should slowly prepare us for globalization. Slowly add foreigners, and bringing them in. After all, we are generally a tolerant and accepting country. Proud to be multi racial and religious tolerant. If there were smoother integration, I’m sure we all would be happier.

It’s easy to see how Singaporeans feel. Just go to sites like Temasek review. Filter those extremists viewpoints and you’ll see.

Embrace all who make S’pore a better place

I AM an ordinary citizen of Singapore who occasionally makes critical comments about government policies, laughs at the idiosyncrasies of some of our leaders and am sceptical of some of their undertakings.

Notwithstanding that, I am proud to be a Singaporean and I would rather live here and defend my country than die in any other ‘more democratic’ country.

So I read with concern the comment made by final-year engineering student Lim Zi Rui during the dialogue with Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Ministerial Forum last Friday night.

I certainly hope that his sentiment about a disconnection with Singapore and not feeling sure of ‘what I am defending any more’ is felt by only a few. If not, Singapore would be doomed.

It would be good for Mr Lim to ask himself why he was proud to be a Singaporean five to 10 years ago and what were the factors that made him feel so? What has changed since then? Have the changes made Singapore a worse place to live and work and bring up a family? The answer will be a definite ‘no’.

All we need to do is look outside our borders and we will feel thankful and proud that Singapore is a safe, progressing and stable society, not given to riots and strikes. Are we taking all these for granted? In fact, I would argue that the changes that made Mr Lim feel ‘insecure’ are the very factors that have made Singapore the peaceful and progressive society it is today.

If we just focus on what we can get out of society and what society owes us, then we will always feel discontented and confused. If one always thinks of Singapore as Singaporeans versus non-Singaporeans and what Singaporeans should be entitled to, then one would end up unhappy. It is time to change our mindset.

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, aptly put it: ‘America does not consist of groups. A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group has not yet become an American.’

Anyone who has a stake in this country, who is passionate about Singapore and is every day doing whatever he can to make Singapore a better place for all of us to live in, should be welcomed.

With this mindset, I am sure that when it is time to protect this beautiful country, all of us, whether Singaporeans or not, will rise and defend our nation, and die for this place we call home.

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