Sunday, December 25, 2011

Singapore. An Email received from a reader

Dear Mr Nair,

I had just stumbled upon your blog yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed your posts.

The very last post I read, the one on An Unsingaporean Gopalan Nair, struck a very strong cord with me.

I am just a very insignificant Singaporean, with no great accomplishments to date. But yet, my little insights into the workings of education and housing ministries through the course of my work has left me with great bewilderment at the lack of compassion and lack of real depth of experience amongst our political leaders and policy makers. Sometimes, the solutions are apparent and they pretend they don't know because politically, it is not preferred. Other times, They don't even bother to brainstorm for solutions because they will just follow the precedent set earlier.

Being an earnest and fair-minded person, this has caused me much internal distress. From many moons past, as early as 1998 when I first returned to Singapore after my UK education, I have never gotten used to life in Singapore and the way the groupthink and adult Singaporeans ignore everything else except making money.

Seeking to engage anyone in talking about policies or politics would lead to icy stares and silence.

My own observations of what is happening around us and the need to be concerned has led to my family members chastising me on thinking about abandoning my motherland. All is not rosy abroad, they would remind me.

How I wish I could be the obedient girl that they so wish me to be. But try as I might, my mind refuses to be dumb and I am suffering because if it.

Married to one whom migration is an impossibilty and facing daily struggles to bring up my children, coupled with being a civil servant in name but not at heart, I am very much stuck where I am.

Nevertheless, the purpose of this letter is to tell you that you are not Unsingaporean. You are a true blue son of Singapore, just like those of the Fajar generation in the 50s.

We have sacrificed everything on the altar of economic success. But what you have been advocating is so true. Freedom of speech, an independent judiciary etc. To cite an example, the newspapers recently reported that a man who was unable to pay his rental arrears was locked in his flat as the officers believed the flat was empty. I can tell you that I know why it could have happened, being once their staff. But if I do talk, you can be sure that I will end up in a most pathetic state.

Yet the likes of Ms Tin Pei Ling, who may not be better than me intellectually, academically or in terms of capability are drawing a salary 3 times mine, just by being in the right camp and with the right connections.

I struggle on the periphery, not knowing how to shut up and listen, which I was told is my greatest weakness, but which I believe without which, I would lose myself.

Truly, we were meant to be the lighthouse of the east, but by not developing and helping indigenous Singaporeans take their place in society, we have robbed the sons and daughters of Singapore of their birthright.

Our pioneers would have sacrificed in vain to build a future for their posterity. If, knowing that the state of Singapore would be run like a dictatorship in 200 years, they would have set sail for another destination, not to Sir Stamford Raffles' British Colony which was supposed to be a land of opportunities.

When I think of my future in a Johor nursing home, my heart sinks. When I see trains, malls, parks swamped with Chinese immigrants, I feel displaced. I tear when I think of how much my parents sacrificed to bring me up, hoping and believing that I would have a chance to do well with a degree. But alas, I can't even provide for them as I have a small family to feed and I don't earn enough. If they get sick, our miserly medisave will be insufficient.

When we sell our flats, much of the profit gets put back in the CPF ad lost interest and CPF used. They take the cash component and convert it to CPF interest which would have accrued if we had not bought a flat.

Please keep writing, for perhaps enough true blue Singaporeans can live to tell the tale to those who love their country, those who have a shared history of once being a citizen of this former British Colony and had hoped to make it a brilliant country. Don't languish in jail, like some, who never get to tell the tale.

Be truthful, not vindictive, and I am sure the purpose with which you started your blog will be even more crystal clear as time passes.

best regards,
Miss L (35 years old)

(p.s. Appreciate it if you do not publish my letter with my real name as I can't afford to lose my job :( )

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