I feel like a foreigner in my own country.

That’s what I often hear nowadays, as we experienced a high influx of foreigners since…well, some years ago. Public transport got more crowded, and many service staff no longer understand English.

I’m a Singaporean who often gets mistaken as a foreigner in my own country. The reverse also holds true; when I go overseas, I’m taken as a local at whatever destination I happen to be in at the moment (theatrical sigh). It came to a point when I realised that I’m pretty indignant when the former happens; that is, when I’m mistaken as a foreigner in Singapore. It was then that I discovered that

I’m damned proud to be a Singaporean.

If you travel extensively (and I wouldn’t say I do), you would know what I mean. We take a lot of things for granted here. It really is not a jibe at other nations and cultures when I say that after getting to know more about other lands and their customs, I grew to appreciate my motherland more. Much, much more.

I’m not denying the problems we have. It’s just that if you put us on the global map and put our problems in perspective, well, we’re pretty ok. At least, that’s what I think. Granted there are challenges, but life’s not fun without them.

Complaining for the sake of complaining is not good. Of course, we need to vent now and then. But after all that ranting and raving, what can we do to improve matters? That is the more important thing, isn’t it? I’ll give you an analogy.

My father went for a bypass when I was still in university. He was a cabbie, and the rental was charged to the drivers everyday, regardless of whether they drove or not. The other day, my family went out for dinner and we were talking about GE 2011 and everything, and one thing led to another, and we talked about the past. Dad said,

‘It was the first time in history that they waived the rental fees for a driver.’

I’m not sure whether that’s true; maybe there were others and it’s just that we don’t know about them. Anyway, my sister and I both retorted at the same time,

Sis: ‘That’s because you have daughters who were willing to do something about it!’
Me: ‘That’s because your daughters are educated!’

Being good in writing, I was the one who wrote in to the company. My sister took it down personally to speak to the manager. We work differently, but we really are the best partners! ^^ The point is, I believe that both of us would have tried all ways and means to achieve the outcome we wanted. When you’re poor, the only thing you have is grit. Hahaha…

Dear mum is a staunch PAP supporter because she told my sister that without the PAP, she wouldn’t have had the chance to go to school. Her maiden family was very poor, but the government made it possible through subsidies and other means for her to complete her ‘O’ Levels.

Me? Not to argue about politics here, but I think that the past does matter to a certain extent. Has the PAP done a good job in the past? Well, Singapore was a developing nation when I was in Primary School. It is now considered a developed country. My parents’ generation has witnessed an even greater transformation in the infrastructure, in the economy, etc.

Developed nations have their own set of problems. Name me one developed (or on the way to being developed) country without the widening income gap problem. Maybe only Japan. Do we want to go the way of Japan, where wages are based on seniority? Sorry, I do not see how that would work in Singapore. The economy would sink.

Do we choose our future leaders based on the past? Maybe not, but it is still crucial to remember that Singapore’s limitations remain ever the same. Lack of natural resources, and a dearth in the pool of born-and-bred-in-Singapore talent, etc. What is our competitive edge? Our geopolitical location, security and stability of our business infrastructure, and harmony among the different races and religion.

As LKY said, ‘No ruling party will be in power forever.’ I do not quote him word for word; I just remember he said something like that in his latest book. Totally agree, and also agree with his sentiments that it doesn’t matter which political party is in power as long as that party serves with the good of Singaporeans in mind. As long as that ruling party does not see power as the end to their means, but instead, uses power wisely and serves for the good of the people, it doesn’t matter.

One portion of his latest book resonated within me. He told his friend, who was also a trained lawyer, that they had to come out to form a political party because there was no one else. His friend wanted to set up a law firm.

If there is no Singapore, there would be no law firm.

I like a man who sees the reality as it is, and has the courage to take up the responsibility to do something to change the bleak reality (as it was then).

I’m still looking for my personal LKY though. It is going to be a long search…

Back to the topic. We all have a part to play in making Singapore into what we want her to be. Even without joining the political playground, there is much that each and every one of us can do.

I’m a pure Singaporean in the sense that I don’t like to lose. So I put in my 200% in whatever I choose to undertake, be it work, play, or simple things like caring for the people around me. Friends have told me that I’m different from other people. In what way, I also can’t say because in the past, I always thought that people think like me. I realised quite long ago that that’s not true. It’s ok because I’m pretty happy to be who I am today.

I’m pretty happy to just be with people, and make them think because what I said may be a bit different from what they have heard. It’s always a happy thing to find like-minded people though, because when you cruise along too long in your own world, you start to wonder whether you really are strange.

That said, I always believe that I’m normal and all the rest of the world are kooks. And that’s really why I can’t run for politics!