Mah’s story is also Singapore’s story

Dear Mrs Low,

I refer to your Straits Times letter dated 8 Mar 2010.

I understand your empathy for Mr Mah since both of you grew up in very overcrowded conditions. However, you need to understand that the improvement in each family’s living conditions over the years is not just a matter of studying hard and working hard but more importantly of diminishing family sizes encouraged in no small part by our “stop at two” policy.

The supposed Singapore story of studying hard and working hard to pull ourselves out of poverty is no different from the stories in other East Asian societies. Studying hard is not the sole premise of Singaporeans, it is the premise of East Asians in general. Furthermore, Mr Mah’s success is fundamentally different from those of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs since Mr Mah merely took over the reins of an already successful organisation whereas Bill Gates and Steve Jobs created something out of nothing. In other words, it really didn’t matter whether or not we had Mr Mah, his existence as far as the HDB or Singapore is concerned, is non-essential. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on the other hand are essential without whom there would have been no Microsoft or Apple respectively. Therefore, Mr Mah’s story is far from Singapore’s story since the former created nothing as far as the latter is concerned. Mr Mah builds flats that are smaller, far from the city centre that took longer to build and are a lot more expensive. His ‘success’ turned out to be the sorrow and nightmare for many Singaporeans.

It is not enough to remind the younger generation of where we come from. It is more important to let them understand that in an increasingly competitive world, it is not enough to simply ace one’s exams just so as to win a privileged seat to rot in. Being in a privileged position calls for a sense of duty to fellow Singaporeans, to create something for the benefit of all.

So while you give thanks to Singapore for living in a maisonette today, think about who you would thank if you were to start all over again by drawing today’s starting salary and paying today’s price for a maisonette. I can guarantee you, your tears will be no less than those you shed for Mr Mah last Saturday which you have no one else but Mr Mah to thank for.

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4 Responses to “Mah’s story is also Singapore’s story”

  1. cy Says:

    looks like he is really desperate to avoid a defeat by using the 悲情牌.

    in that case, he should learn from the master, Chen Shui Bian

  2. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Daily SG: 11 Mar 2010 Says:

    […] Housing Singaporeans – Lianain Films: Homelessness Is Not A Dirty Word – Yours Truly Singapore: Mah’s story is also Singapore’s story […]

  3. fievel Says:

    Well said, and thanks for saving me the effort to do the same.

  4. The Singapore Daily » Blog Archive » Weekly Roundup: Week 11 Says:

    […] behind market forces? – Lianain Films: Homelessness Is Not A Dirty Word – Yours Truly Singapore: Mah’s story is also Singapore’s story – TOC: HDB: Homelessness due to policies? BTS better than BTO? 31,000 flats unsold, but nobody […]

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