Tomorrow we turn 52 as a nation – a democratic society based on justice and equality. We aim for happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation. That is indeed a noble mission happily for a small country where it is perhaps easier to unite the people with heartfelt common goals transcending identities of race, class and religion.
“We are Singapore. We are Singaporeans.” So goes a favorite National Day Parade song. Both Singapore and Singaporeans are inseparable. But my most favorite song is Home sung by Kit Chan and composed by Dick Lee. Home was the first of three songs we learned at my Club HEAL Expressive Arts session the past two weeks. Singing Home was a starting point to share our feelings for our country, our home over the 52 years of independence.
I am almost as old as Singapore, having just turned 50. I am most fortunate to have gone through half a decade without undergoing war like some other countries and I am grateful for it. I am grateful for the peace and harmony such that I was privileged to hear the sharing of a Christian, a Muslim and a Buddhist on the same platform speaking about “Faith in Action” last month.
To me faith in action happens in our daily interaction such as whenever I meet my neighbor – a Chinese Buddhist Singaporean who would share some wisdom of Buddha. He has a beautiful almost ceiling high statue of the Buddha in glorious gold which I saw him construct from scratch in his balcony. I enjoy our philosophical meanderings on the way to the bus stop or in the bus and when he talks about his lovely wife whom he always holds hands with, he will say with a chuckle, “The shoes are old but they are comfortable.” I have quite a few Buddhist friends and yes many of them are nice and wise. We are sensitive enough not to antagonize our friends, respecting each other’s rights to choose a religion or a belief system.
Being in a country which has a majority of Chinese folks, many of my friends are Chinese naturally but many of us have lost touch with one another. This year as the Tanjong Katong Girls School (TKGS) class of ’83 celebrates our common 50th birthday, one by one old classmates and old friends are popping out of nowhere to share snippets of our lives. We will meet this Saturday at the TKGS holding school in Bedok. Some of us have met up once we got our friends’ contact numbers. I have met my secondary school best buddy Ger Ean three times already with three different sets of friends within three months. In Singapore, we don’t have to remind our friends that we need a halal diet when we go out together in our multi-racial multi-religious brood. It is a well-known fact and the others will go out of the way too cater to our dietary requirements. Still, I appreciate and am delighted that we share our cultures and practices with one another.
Ten things I like about Singapore or being a Singaporean:
- Singapore is a peaceful place to study, work and live.
- It is full of beautiful parks at our doorsteps. We live in a clean, garden city.
- I feel secure being outdoors even late at night or in the early morning.
- I can shop for 24 hours at some places including at Sheng Siong spermarket just under my block.
- Good food are near my home and are available 24 hours too.
- I have friends from all walks of life, races and religions and countries which make my life more interesting.
- Being a fine city, I no longer step on spittle or chewing gum or dog poo.
- There is hardly any killer litter despite the high-rise living.
- We are a very generous lot, contributing to all kinds of causes locally and overseas that we support or believe in.
- Most of us enjoy a good standard of living and is mostly free from natural disasters.
There are of course some not so nice things about Singapore and Singaporeans. I feel that many are busy chasing after material wealth that they have little free time for their loved ones. Sometimes work is too draining for us to do much more than chores let alone have conversations with our elders or with our young ones.
I also wish that it becomes more of a culture to greet and strike up conversations with random people on the street, in the train, in the lift, whenever we caught each other’s eyes and smile. We never know who we might meet. I happened to meet a talented computer graphics artist Steve Jubinville who was part of the team behind movies like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Transformers 4 and Beauty and the Beast. We struck up a conversation in the MRT . It was nice to keep in touch with some drivers who happen to be in sync with us while conversing in their cars. One Grab Hitch driver found our conversation engaging and enlightening that he did not want to accept my payment for the ride from Pasir Ris to Jurong West.
I can’t think of some things that I don’t like at the moment as I am feeling sleepy despite nursing this mug of coffee. It is just that I tend to see the goodness of people and places and I am totally in love with Singapore and being Singaporean. And this feeling reaches its peak when I am celebrating National Day which will be tomorrow.
Here’s wishing all of us a Happy Birthday and may we celebrate endless more birthdays together as Singaporeans!