Sunday, August 10, 2008

Values

National Day has come and gone and for once, in seven years, I managed to get away without catching a glimpse of the parade. I've seen more than my fair share of parades and after a while, you get the idea of what's going to happen. Allot of work goes into the parade and I feel bad not appreciating the work that gets put into the parade, but I think it would be nice if there were a few fresh ideas about expressing the joy of being an independent nation.

My ex-boss once said that her husband does not give her a Valentines Day gift because he believes that everyday is Valentines Day with his wife. If you think about it, he's right. Why should we only express our feelings on just a single day? It should be everyday. I think this principle should applied to National Day. Why do we need this annual event to remind us to be proud to be Singaporean? Surely, we should have some reason to feel pride in our nation for 365 days a year.

Am just being sour? Am I just grouchy that I avoided going into town because I knew the roads would be jammed? Perhaps I am, but I think our emphasis on nation building and values needs to be internalised and not just expressed once a year because we happen to throw a huge party. It seems that we just go back to being grouchy about things like the rising cost of living, lower wages and so on, while the Ministers get grouchy because we're grumbling that they're not doing what they're telling us to do - note, giving a Minister a pay raise of several hundred thousand a year is necessary to attract talent and is beneficial to the economy but giving a street sweeper a a couple of hundred a year more could stroke inflation.

Seriously, we need to look beyond quick stop-gap measures. As far as I can see, the real values of the nation are - "Screw those who've been screwed and allow those who can screw you to screw you good and hard." If you don't believe me, just take a ride down the MRT and you'll be treated to the sight of old people having to stand in the corner, while the fit and healthy 20-year olds pretend to sleep. Or look at the amount of letters complaining that the government is not doing enough to protect national security whenever someone tries to make 20cents by selling a curry puff without a government license. Of course, when a drunken American sailors assult people, we stand idilly by while the American Ambassador speaks some gobledygook about who Americans respect Singapore.

Of course, anyone who points out the inconsistency to all of this gets labbled a Western Liberal with an agenda to do Singapore in. I'm not sure how getting upset that the American navy gets a free rein to hit our citizens makes us Western Liberals but there you have it, Singapore has its own unique brand of values, which some how became known as Asian Values. You can tell that these values are so well entrenched, when you actually need government leglislation to enforce these values. My Young Politician often reminds me that keeping 377A upholds the values of the majority. I'm not sure how it's actually done it but there you have it, we are a society that needs to leglislate to believe.

I suppose the Young Politician is right. If we removed 377A, all the 'Moral' people would turn gay. If you look at the attitude of Singaporeans towards litter, it's very telling. Singapore is thankfully spotless, but the moment you cross the causeway, you'll find yourself assaulted by a flying plastic bag - a souvenier of a Singaporean discovering the pleasures of littering other people's country.

But there you have it, we are a conservative society that requires leglislation to make us good. If you had no laws against littering, Singaporeans would empty their trash onto the streets. If you didn't have 377A, you'd have everyone buggering each other - and finally, if we did not get ourselves into National Day, Singaporeans would probably run away from the country the moment there's any sign of trouble. National Day serves the purpose of telling people to be patriotic and I should simply understand that people need to be told what to feel. - How sad!

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