One of the many common misconceptions about my country. In light of Singapore’s 50th birthday, for once in my life I’m publicly declaring that I’m actually proud to be a Singaporean. Here’s why.
50 years young
“You’re too young, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Actually, we do. It’s only now that I appreciate how focused and pragmatic we had to be in our policies and goals, to come to where we are today. 50 years since independence, and we’ve progressed from a predominantly agrarian society with ethnic divisions, to being one of the most resilient and diverse market economies in the world. The World Bank has also ranked Singapore 1st worldwide for ease of doing business for 7 consecutive years. No way, you might say. Yes way.
Photo credit: chensiyuan
“I really think the roti-prata at Ion Orchard food court is the best.” Seriously? No, you did not just say that. You really need to rethink your life goals if you think the best roti-prata in Singapore is in a shopping mall. Singaporeans will live and die by our food recommendations, and we will know the top 10 stalls of our favourite dishes by heart. So will I. We want the best in everything, and if the best fish soup is Piao Ji at Amoy St Food Centre – I don’t care if the queue is 2 hours long I’m getting my fish soup by hook or by crook. #winning
Photo credit: sitistreet
I used to avoid speaking Singlish. Oddly enough, as I grew older, I increasingly identified myself with it. Some people criticise us for not being able to speak good english. Well, I would argue that we strive for efficiency in all things. For example, if there’s a presentation to be given, we can switch to perfect English. In more local circumstances, Singlish would be our common tongue. It’s also a brilliant way to speak english right in front of an english-speaking person without them being able to understand us. Steady bo.
Photo credit: understand-anot
We’re sometimes criticised for being a collective of borrowed cultures. I beg to differ. I’ve formed some of my deepest friendships through serving national service. When you’re trudging through the jungle with the same group of people for the better part of 2 years, you get to know them uncomfortably well. How do you tell if a girl is Singaporean? BCG shots, go figure. Why do you call elders Uncle and Auntie even though they’re not your relatives? It’s respectful, deal with it. We’re also opening theNational Gallery Singapore this year, which will house the largest South-east Asian collection in the world.
But not everything is perfect. I see the passing of LKY as a wakeup call for us. No longer can we rely on the political gravitas he brought to the global stage. As we watched countless tributes to LKY’s legacy during that fateful week, many of us had one thing on our mind-there will never be another man like LKY. Perhaps. But I believe that we can learn to be like LKY. To stand firmly for what we believe in, to support our own people and have a deeper sense of ownership and responsibility for our country. As we transition into the next 50 years of Singapore, it may not be just a question of success, but also that of survival.
So, is Singapore in China? No need to say, you already know.
This post is part of the “SGin50” series where we discuss thoughts, ideas and topics of interest on Singapore in the next 50 years.
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*Updated with photo credits