Embrace all who make S’pore a better place

Dear Straits Times,

I refer to the 2 Nov 2010 letter by Mr Thng Tien Guan.

Mr Thng is worried about some Singaporeans’ supposed disconnect with Singapore. Mr Thng can be rest assured, the disconnect is not with Singapore, it is with the ruling party. The uncertainty with what one is defending need not necessarily spell doom for it is only by overcoming uncertainty can we have greater clarity.

Mr Thng gives a definite ‘no’ answer to the question of whether changes over the last five, ten years have made Singapore a worse place to live, work and to bring up a family. Perhaps Mr Thng belongs to the older generation who bought their houses at much cheaper prices. Mr Thng should ask the same question to his children, nephew and nieces when they grow up and have to pay a lot more for their houses. Mr Thng does not seem to be able to empathise with those whose problems he does not share.

If looking outside our borders will make us feel proud and thankful, then how we feel will depend very much on where we look. If we look at Norway, Sweden, Finland or Switzerland, we may not feel so proud and thankful. If we have to look at Africa or Papua New Guinea to feel proud and thankful, it would really be a sad day for Singapore. If no riots and no strikes is what we should feel proud and thankful for, we can all be proud North Koreans instead.

Mr Thng argues that the changes which made Mr Lim Zi Rui feel insecure are the same factors which have given Singapore progress. Mr Thng sounds like the silly driver who keeps squeezing more and more passengers into his van in order to make more money not realising that his van is overloaded to the point where it finally went kaput.

Mr Thng urges us not to focus on what to get out of the country and what the country owes us so as not to feel discontented and confused. Mr Thng should tell that to MM Lee and his ministers and get them to stop focusing on million dollar salaries.

Mr Thng urges us to not think of ourselves as Singaporeans or non-Singaporeans because Woodrow Wilson once said that he who thinks that he belongs to a particular national group is not yet an American. Mr Thng seems to imply that those who think of themselves as non-Singaporeans belong to a particular national group. What strange logic Mr Thng has.

Mr Thng welcomes all who strives to make Singapore a better place. There are six billion people in this world. If all are willing to strive for Singapore, would Mr Thng welcome all six billion even if it means having only standing space for himself? Mr Thng cannot idealistically think of welcoming only without also thinking about the real and practical space constrains that we have. That would be most irresponsible.

Mr Thng is sure that even non-Singaporeans would rise to defend and to die for Singapore when the day comes. But Mr Thng can’t even guarantee that people like Agu Casmir would take our money and run away.


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