I refer to the article “What’s this place worth to you?” by Mr Paul Jacob that appeared in the Straits Times on 24th Mar 2007.
Mr Jacob exposes our true selves – ever envious of those better than us but seldom sparing a thought for the less fortunate. It serves as a timely reminder for our elites to stop comparing themselves with top bankers and accountants and to focus instead on improving the livelihood of the commoners.
He urges us to look at where we came from and who got us where we are today. But this epic journey back in time invariably stops at 1965, a good 156 years after that moment of history when Singapore was founded as the gateway between the Far East and the West. It is the same true self that Mr Jacob exposed earlier that leads our leaders to see only their own contributions but not those who came before them, for what would modern Singapore be, without our British predecessors?
He reminds us of such grand undertakings as the transformation of Jurong swamp into the engine room for the modern Singapore economy and the creation of the icon that would be Singapore Airlines. But these are the contributions of our leaders from an earlier era, contributions we Singaporeans are forever grateful for. What has our present generation of politicians to show for other than their constant bickering for more millions?
It took our leaders nearly forty years to finally do something about Sentosa and they are already putting that into their bag of contributions before work has even completed. If the casino-resort provides jobs to Singaporeans, where would those Singaporeans come from? They would come from similar jobs elsewhere on the island. If it is the casino of the casino-resort that would bring in the dough, then fellow Singaporean gamblers would be the ones footing the bill and paying salaries. If it is the resort of the casino-resort that brings in the cash instead, then why have the casino?
It is not that citizens do not appreciate the fact that Singapore ticks, but all first world cities tick but none of them blackmail their citizens with that ticking. Hygienic eating places and clean running water are commonly available in all first world cities. The government constantly emphasizes our first world status so comparison has to be with fellow first world cities. What is it that we have here that other places don’t have? Why must it only be us who has to pay a premium for what everybody else has?
Yes, under table money doesn’t get me my flat fast, nothing else does.
Suddenly, all the million and one things that average folks like you and I accomplish everyday goes to our prime minister. If the prime minister were to go tomorrow, would you stop writing? Would I stop working? Would we stop contributing?
The people who looked at the threat of China, looked at just around the same time when everyone realised they’ve been retrenched.
All the things that are collectively provided by Singaporeans are collectively worth the whole of Singapore and the prize goes ultimately to all Singaporeans, not to one or two politicians.
The comfort of my home comes at a price that is probably five times those found in similar cities elsewhere. The security of our homes is provided for by our serving national service. Our freedom to worship is just one compared to the many more freedoms we do not have, that people elsewhere take for granted. The quality of our government would be nothing without the quality of its people and the strength of the Singapore brand ultimately rests with Singaporeans.
Paying my politician top dollar may not dent my pocket, but it brings anger to many ordinary Singaporeans who has to pay more for everything without having the freedom to write his own paycheck. What the politicans have to show of late doesn’t demonstrate the talent they claim to have nor justify the millions they are demanding. The pact of mutual benefit that has been more oft used than it should is fast losing faith amongst Singaporeans who find their salaries relatively unchanged in a decade when ministers, in good times or bad, continue to earn millions.