It is Tuesday night, and Yenn and I have just finished logging all our assignment deadlines onto calendars.
Yen: "I think you should change the title of your blog."
Me: "Huh? Why?"
Yen: "Well, " [points to the title] "Are you sure you're still bored? Are you sure you're still slacking?"
[Imagine an Aki balloon deflating with a low sigh and a highly depressed look]
Happy Birthday Singapore.... Now get over it already!
And so another National Day is over..... Happy 40th Birthday Singapore, only about 10 years more to mid life crisis....
The one good thing out of the end of National Day? [Hopefully anyway] no more irritating "reach for the stars"...... bleah........ If I see one more Taufik and Rui En in the MRT, I might just make the LCD screen see stars...... [Bad pun, but I'll blame it on T and RE's inadequate harmony :p]
I know it's supposed to be the celebration of Singapore's independence and all that, but after about 24 years, the National Day celebrations are getting a bit tiresome. It's all about the same anyway. The different ethnic groups and the ever-present PAP group putting on a few skits, the military shows off its arsenal, everyone gapes in awe at the fireworks, and then goes home with the goodie bags.
For about months after that, you will see the goodie bag itself being used by tons of schoolkids all over Singapore, and a few adults, and then its appearance will diminish over time. Till the next National Day.
A pretty sarcastic take on the whole thing, huh?
And yet I don't see myself as an unpatriotic Singaporean. I don't badmouth every single Government policy, [well, not every single one anyway] I don't badmouth everything about the Gahmen.
Importantly, I don't, at this moment of time, have any plans to migrate to other countries. Other countries are nice, and some might be better than us in some ways, but I would still like to live here, marry here, and perhaps eventually die here.
This I know is totally at odds with a lot of people, and even some of my closest friends :p. But I do feel that Singapore is a good place to settle down for many reasons, most of all being the safe environment, and also the fact that here I am acknowledged as a citizen, and hence I know that, however much I deplore the actions of the government, they are made in my favour.
You think this isn't much of an advantage? Tell that to the Blacks, who suffered the chains of slavery. Tell that to the Muslims in France, who were forced to compromise their religious beliefs in exchange for life in a secular France. Tell that to any other disadvantaged race in other countries.
Your civil rights, though not tangible, are a more precious thing than almost any other thing in this world. And you cannot guarantee that the governments of other countries will grant their Permanent Residents with the same civil privileges that they grant their own home-born citizens.
But still the National Day celebrations and all the marketing hooha leading up to it bores me, and, in the case of the NDay song, irritates me. Why?
Because it's all marketing. Because I know that all this is to promote an image of something else, and ultimately, it's not real.
Because I know that the image is there to cover the reality, which may or may not be the one the Gahmen wants to project to the world.
Because the images of Singapore I see in the MTVs and the National Day parades are NOT the images of Singapore I know and love.
And what I love is what I see and feel around me. The real Singapore.
The prata stall at AMK which I still faithfully patronise every Sunday. [pulling along a father who is getting increasingly sick of prata]
The comics which arrive for me every Tuesday. [ok, not quite every Tues]
The clean and convenient transport. [Sit the Tube and the Metro and you realise just how fantastic our MRT really is]
and more importantly,
All the friends and family who have been with me for as long as I've been living here.
To me, THAT'S Singapore, my home, my future.
So Happy National Day, for all those who truly care.
And let's continue making this a home worth living, for each other.