Dear Mr. Tan Kin Lian
I am a retiree in my sixties and, like you, my heart sentiments and empathies are for the man-in-the- street, ordinary Singapore citizens, and the senior citizens, who are not able to express themselves on their plights and miseries, for lack of ability, education, literacy, IT skills and media know how.
The plight of the poor misguided uncles and aunties, and including my wife and I, who laboured all their lives trusting in the government's promise of a better life, when they can retire with their CPF nest eggs, have just had their dreams shattered and crumbled by the latest chain of events from the financial collapse from around the world. Some of us may be in the same age bracket as a few of our longstanding national leaders, some of whom have passed on, and some who are still giving counsel on the affairs of state. How does one compare the earning of a poor cleaner or bus or taxi driver, with that of those whose monthly salary income is 2000 times as much, or whose lifetime savings is not even one fifth of one months salary of some.
It is not my mission and agenda to protest against the establishment, just for protest sake. But we are now talking about retirees and hardworking citizens who have saved diligently and conscientiously for nearly all their working lives, and as they now walk into their sunset years, they have just suddenly seen the sun go down, without being sure whether it will rise up again the next day.
This is a very sad and human tragedy for Singaporean leaders to address quickly. There is no point in building more of the asset rich Singapore hardware, when the national heartware is in tatters. We have to offer a temple of hope, in order to create a real sense of community belonging in this small so called ' Red Dot island paradise'
Whilst we are shut out our city to entertain and accomodate our foreign guests, as they pop champagne and feast on caviar and veal, whilst they watch some silly machine zooming by, our taxi drivers, retailers and restaurants are hurting from lack of patronage and support. Whilst Rome burns, we are makiing sport.
It is paradox, and an irony, when well qualified and able young Singapore born sons and daughters, leave this 'island paradise' for greener pastures in Australia, NZ, the U.S., Canada, and may not come back home, and we then encourage new alien migrants from neighbouring feeder countries, offering them PR or Singapore citizenship after two years, because they can play better ping pong, or badminton, or football to add to our talent pool.
On the one hand we have full born and bred political opposition members who risk and sacrifice all they have and owned to speak up for the silent Singaporeans, but they are crucified on our court altar, for their their defiance and different points of view. Are we supposed to behave like obedient Singaporean sheep that goes "baa baa, yes sir, yes sir, you're right again,
all the time" .
What has happened to the days of the "gotong royong" when we were more kin and kind as near equals with 'cangkuls and poon kees' in hand, to re-build track roads and clean up the beaches. That was a time when we truly felt the kampong community spirit of collective self help, and we could relate and identify very strongly with our MPs and national leaders fighting for this country's survival. What has happened to the recognition and memories of some of our surviving pioneer old guards like Toh Chin Chye, Goh Keng Swee, Othman Wok, Ong Pang Boon, Jek Yeun Thong? Are they forgotten, because they have now become irelevant today? What about those who have also contibuted but are no longer with us - Devan Nair, S Rajaratnam., E.W Barker, Howe Yoon Chong, George Bogaars, Hon Sui Sen, Lee Siew Choh, Lim Chin Siong, J.B. Jeyaretnam and others.
This country and this nation's progress in the last 40+ years has been one of miraculous transformation, if we judge our report card by stainless steel, gleaming glass, bricks and mortar, and manicured trees and the landscaped gardens. No Singaporean in their 50 -80 years, would deny our government this credit. Our port, airport, CBD, MRT, highways, public housing, schools and institutions of learning stand out as wonderful trophies to our national sense of accomplishment, and much pride for the civil servants, town planners and estate managers. I, myself, have been a beneficiary of this economic progress, when I recall, as a kid, how I used to take my bath from a public stand pipe, or well, and poo into a bucket. Yes, I am grateful to this goverment for improving our creature comfort, dignity and quality of living, but not of life.
But somewhere along the way, coming to where we are today, we seem to have lost that sense of bonding and togetherness with our founding fathers. Our progress reminds me of the book "Animal Farm" by George Orwell. With the success of the physical transformation of the environment, there has also been an attitudinal and spiritual transformation of another kind. It has been a gradual process and shift of our cultural values and national priorities
As our leaders work and live in fine comfort, we the citizens of Singapore are mortgaged to our hilt, and now even our hard earned savings are going up in smoke, because the people in charge knows how to set up the traffic rules, but did not do anything to monitor and track the traffic flow.
Hence for many of us who continue to place our blind faith and trust in a government backed and publicly endorsed brand name, and then to be told when the bottom falls out, "you make your own bed, you lie in it". " If you fall down from bed, through no fault of your own, that's too bad. That's life. The market forces of caveat emptor will have to prevail "
It is like saying, we have proudly built for you a wonderful zebra crossing, but you can cross at your own risk, without the need for traffic light controls..
You are a brave man for doing what you are doing now, and I will refrain from egging you on, by being just an entertained spectator. Some people will do that, but when the riot vans come around, many will scatter and hide. I am a peace loving person, but like many Singaporeans who have helped to build and make this place our home, I too have my gripes and grouches, at the way we are often being programmed and manipulated by those who know what is best for us.
It will be interesting to see if the Prime Minister will still deliver on his national rally pledge, that no one will be left out of the national banquet and pie sharing, even in this difficult and trying time. To the rich dining in aircon comfort, an unfinished bowl of rice is only just $0.50 cents. To the impoverised and starving, that same bowl of rice, could represent a days wage, of burning and straining in the hot sun, or some bent old lady collecting tin cans and discarded cartons just to stay alive, let alone calling it a living.
May God bless, and keep you.
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