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“I am a Singaporean” by Dan E

Posted by intellisg on July 14, 2006

IS presents “I am a Singaporean” by Dan E, inspired by Mr Brown

===
I was born in 1970 at the KK hospital and grew up in a kampong near the old airport. My parents stopped at 2 after having my younger sibling.

I moved from my kampong to a HDB flat in the west-end of Singapore when the government exercised the Land Reclamation Act on my kampong to build new flats.

I schooled through PSLE, O-level, A-level, and took a 2.5 years Army conscription break before disrupting to return to NUS for a degree course.

I followed the Singapore dream: study hard, serve the country, work hard, listen to the government and have a good life.

I remember vividly an illustration from the National Education text in primary school where it depicted a happy family of four walking towards their car from a high-rise apartment.

I observed the property market riding waves after waves of increase and read the dosage of how “investors” harvested profits within weeks without even seeing the apartment they bought. Inspiring.

And I quietly wondered how I can afford a high-rise apartment. But I thought that the government has a plan and I went for my Reservists and IPPT.

I watched my mother fell sick, admitted for emergency treatment and ICU observation. I saw the hospitable bills piled to intimidating figures but I have one and just only one mother – priceless. I knew I had enough CPF savings to cover her.

I thought I knew, but the CPF Board knew better. I watched in horror as the clerk punched her calculator and calmly informed me that the combined CPF of my 3 family members could only pay for less than 15% of the $25,000 bill.

I wiped out my first few years of cash savings in one cheque. Little did I know, then, that this one cheque would go on to change my Singapore dream.

I researched the CPF and learned about the limited medical scheme, housing scheme, and the ever-rising minimum sum requirement. I found out that I can’t access my money even if I have a dying mother requiring an operation for which I have no cash to pay.

I finally understood why some old people say, “in singapore you can die but you better don’t fall sick”.

And I went for my Reservists and IPPT – but I began hating it for its inflexibility and infringement on my personal life.

I started asking “why”. I questioned and discovered that no one had a satisfactory answer, (or perhaps they just didn’t want to answer) – except for slogans like “More Good Years”, “Swiss Standard of Living”, “First World nation”.

No one, in fact, could tell me what constitutes a “Rainy Day” or who can decide if its going to be a rainy day. Certainly not the weatherman, I know.

I took up a job that led me away from Singapore, relocating to a few locations. Someone called me a quitter subsequently.

In Japan, I concluded that World-class transportation network is quite a bit more than just 4 lines running through the city.

In Taiwan, I realized that Singapore is really a western society that happens to speak functional Mandarin. I learned what is civic participation, media independence, and how absolute power will corrupt absolutely eventually.

I now know it is the electorate’s responsibility to ensure that the government does its job – not the other way around.

I married and bought my own high-rise apartment (not a cent from the CPF) – all outside of Singapore. I found out that I don’t need a car to complete the picture in order to be happy, or to support my ego.

I watched the post-911 GE and the recent Lee-junior GE. I saw Martyn See’s documentary on CSJ. I observed the emergence of political forums and their haste relocation from singapore, the evolution of the “persistently non-political” blogs, not to mention the blogs’ coverage of GE-2006.

I read with interest the emergence of civic awareness that are well articulated and presented on the Internet.

I am amused at the PAP’s apprehension of this new media, as well as its instinctive need to “fix” this emerging trend. I wonder how the new fix will reconcile with the new slogan, “Open and Inclusive Society”.

I continue to be amused by a shriveled 80+ years old man who persists in putting on his gauntlets and meeting his imaginary opponent in a cul-de-sac. And yet when the time comes for reckoning he backpeddles and calls out for judgement without trial.

I pay the government to do its job of providing governmental services to the country, including a fair, equitable and non-partisan method of upgrading older estates.

I didn’t pay to be told what can or cannot be expressed as opinions, be it constructive, partisan or otherwise. I have my wife at home to discuss freedom of expression – it is not the call of a civil servant or a minister employed by my tax dollars.

I have this to tell the civil servants and ministers: create more jobs, keep prices steady and try to move singapore upwards a little more in the Happy Nation Index. And stop complaining about how you cannot cope with rising oil prices, globalization, terrorism – you need to think really hard and come out with solutions.

And you do really need to worry about losing confidence because you are already there: through non-performance.

I am a Singaporean, who now understand the separation of State and Government, and who knows government must be managed and can indeed be changed (as opposed to some misguided musings).

I am a Singaporean, and I want a democratic society based on justice and equality. And I believe we will slowly but surely dismantle the obstructions accumulated from years of apathy.

So say we all.
===

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Submitted by Dan E

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33 Responses to ““I am a Singaporean” by Dan E”

  1. Molly Meek said

    Nice. Feel like writing my own. Except that it’s gonna be the same old story, isn’t it? 😦

  2. Anonymous said

    Very heartfelt, Dan. The sad thing is the average Singaporeans will not be able to read it in the MSM. I’m so sickened by the absolute control of the MSM by the pap.

  3. Dan E said

    Write your piece.. let it be recorded on the Blogs and come 2010 we can recall these and set our resolves.

  4. the brotherhood said

    “Write your piece.. let it be recorded on the Blogs and come 2010 we can recall these and set our resolves.”

    If singapore is such a perfect ball and chain. Why not just live, work and play somewhere else?

  5. the brotherhood said

    If you are not expressing your opinion now, what are you doing?

  6. Fazidah said

    Bravo and thanks for sharing your story.

    For one person who writes about this, there are many others suffering through this senseless control of CPF money.

    The government gets rich from using our savings for their investments, but when the time comes for us to need it for our very survival, we don’t even get to use it. Extremely ridiculous!

  7. Flod said

    I no longer say, “The government gets rich from using our savings for their investments……”

    I prefer to say, “The ministers get rich from the taxpayers, but when tax payers need their own money.

    This demystifies our government, and they are just humans like us. I just hate the fact that our ministers makes us feel like they are our rulers, when they are not.

  8. anon said

    “If singapore is such a perfect ball and chain. Why not just live, work and play somewhere else?”

    I dare the gahmen to tell us this, actually.

    They are lucky that most singaporeans do not have the resolve to quit Singapore. A baby boomer, on average, has a CPF reserve of 200k or more which would leave the country when he/she returns that Pink IC.

  9. genevieve said

    only now, they improve the cpf thingie.

    when its TOO LATE.

    actually only 30% of singaporeans are taxpayers.

    we are indeed quite poor people.

  10. Jas said

    People often say.If you want to survive in singapore you need $$$ and money and still MONEY.In singapore,you even need to pay to use the public toilets!Singapore wanted foreigners so much, but they charge them more too.For primary education in singapore, malaysians who come to s’pore to study pay so much more than we do.We need to pay this and that.Sometimes i feel like telling the Government, we don’t print money!

  11. citrine said

    Look around at other countries. Is it so much better there? Living in another country may cost a lot less. But you do get a lot less. Is that what you want? Frankly, I don’t. I like the lifestyle here. I don’t quite like the price but if that is the price I have to pay to get what I want, I am willing to pay for it.

  12. Sparkplug said

    “If singapore is such a perfect ball and chain. Why not just live, work and play somewhere else?”

    Because I am Singaporean.

    Because I will bleed on the flag to make sure the redness doesn’t fade.

    Because belonging to, and caring for a place means wanting to influence it to change for the better.

    People who would happily live, work and play elsewhere just because of Singapore’s limitations probably don’t care too much, or at least enough… Ironically, these may be the most likely to remain happy with status quo in our country.

  13. deep blue said

    “People who would happily live, work and play elsewhere just because of Singapore’s limitations probably don’t care too much, or at least enough… Ironically, these may be the most likely to remain happy with status quo in our country.”

    Au contraire, if history teaches us anything at all: real change can only be brought about by people who have the courage to see beyond their borders and getting on their bikes.

    Change has never ever emerged from the ranks of the frogs in the well, who choose the safety of remaining and holding back and sadly misconstruing their lack of impetus as a sign of strength of character.

    If anything, it only shows how out of touch they are with the world and why it is dangerous to allow them to be the agents of change.

    Excuse me, I need to have a cup of coffee.

    The brotherhood

  14. Sparkplug said

    “Au contraire, if history teaches us anything at all: real change can only be brought about by people who have the courage to see beyond their borders and getting on their bikes.”

    I was under the impression history is full of bright shining examples about lasting change being brought by people who endure persecution and soldier on in spite of dire circumstances. Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela come immediately to mind.

    Turning one’s back on his/her place of origin (on a bike or otherwise) is, simply put, giving up. Such is indicative of cowardly self-centeredness and lack of character, sometimes disguised as worldliness, as a form of self-justification for the ego.

    Or perhaps what you wrote – in your haste to get coffee – didn’t convey your full intentions? If so, kindly enlighten us.

    To provide a context, I’ve spent the better part of 9 years out of Singapore, worked in 3 different countries in 2 continents. I have not changed my citizenship despite ample opportunity to do so, have been back in Singapore for the past year, and do not consider myself to have really ever left.

  15. JS Tan said

    I share Dan E’s views. For more of my comments and insights, please visit my blog .

  16. Anonymous said

    Mee siam mai hum

  17. 40+ Singaporean said

    Well written, Dan. Never figured life in Singapore can be summarized in so few sentences! It highlights what the key features of living here in this island state as a citizen and what’s wrong with the current system.

    I hope that through this and many other blogs where insights and comments such as these will germinate and bring about changes to our society and make it a better place to live in.

    Cheers and a Happy New Year to all!

  18. singapore is the manifestation of george orwell’s animal form

  19. BushLadin said

    This is a classic. I can identify with it at so many levels. Thanks for writing it.

  20. Well said.

    This is what it should mean to be a Singaporean.

    “I am a Singaporean, who now understand the separation of State and Government, and who knows government must be managed and can indeed be changed (as opposed to some misguided musings).”

    To be aware, articulate and have the belief to think just a bit further.

  21. Vijay said

    I love this. Would I be allowed to feature this excellent piece of writing on my own website (when it comes up). I am thankful my parents were able to send me abroad.. though I am struggling to pave my own way now, I feel a sense of respite from something pre-ordained and final. I would rather be thrashing in foreign water than chained by ankle to the bottom of a clorinated pool, thank you very much.

  22. Dan E said

    Dear Vijay:
    Yes please feel free to re-produce this on your website. And remember to leave a link to it!

    It’s been some time since I re-read what I’ve written. In the context of higher ministers pay-cheques and Kuan Yew’s rambles, I find that nothing has really changed with Lee-junior’s government.

    In a way, it’s good: because the pap has become highly predictable whereas the blogosphere is evolving dynamically.

    It is regrettable, on the other hand, to find some bloggers have chosen silence. I am, nonetheless, hopeful that more blogs will come alive than those that attrite.

  23. inspir3d said

    Hi Dan. Nice to see you are still around.

    I was wondering if you are interested to write more stuff, if you havent already.

    do drop me an email if u are interested

    insp.

  24. Sama sama said

    Citrine:

    #1: Look around at other countries. Is it so much better there? Living in another country may cost a lot less. But you do get a lot less. Is that what you want?

    #2: Frankly, I don’t. I like the lifestyle here. I don’t quite like the price but if that is the price I have to pay to get what I want, I am willing to pay for it.

    Doesn’t #2 answer #1?

  25. Sama sama said

    Even sparkplugs require electricity to operate as sparkplugs.

  26. Dan E said

    Dear insp, sure I will be happy to write more – hopefully adding a little to the vaccum created by Kitana’s going quiet. Send to the gmail account?

  27. inspir3d said

    Dan, yes the gmail please. glad to hear ur reply =)

  28. The average Singaporean said

    I like it. I can identify with it.

  29. brasher said

    Dan,
    What you wrote should be our national anthem instead ! To hell with our Mariguita Propaganda pledge that I am split out every school morning. Nevermind that your piece is long, as long as it’s true.

    Pappy’s days are numbered when our society start to collapse.

  30. […] Wednesday, June 13th, 2007 in life stories (again) the following is an interesting read from https://intelligentsingaporean.wordpress.com/2006/07/14/is-exclusive-i-am-a-singaporean-by-dan-e/ […]

  31. Tan Uki said

    Hi, well written.

    The shrivelled old man actually has had a change of heart. But the system he has created has turned on him, as monsters do on their creators. There is very little he can do now.

    When I lived in China, I felt and breathed more freedom than I thought was possible, even more than my days in USA. When I revisit my birthcountry Malaysia, I see wasted possibilities. Actually, I have decided to join the govt (this is my first week) in a position of hopefully some influence, so we can answer those survival questions.

    But after a few days, I can see that if you look at the usual tripod Public – Private – People plane, it is grossly unbalanced. The public sector cannot do the work of the private and people, and it should not. The civil socieity sector has been smashed since post 59 by PAP, and the old man regrets that (I’ve learnt) but cannot do much to change it. His passing from the scene may help, but I do not know how much, the monster is too good. The private sector … is weak, nothing like China or Taiwan.

    I like China and Taiwan. And of course Cantonese motherland center of the world self proclaimed HK. Those are chinese societies who have not had their blood bleached white like ours.

    btw, I have been to other socieities like Israel where the public sector is weak (overtaken by the army) while the private and people sector are strong, it is chaos but I know that if their government or nation is destroyed, they can recreate themselves. China all three sectors are strong, though govt is stronger, but it is a thrill tolive there. HK govt is weak, and is consequently more like Israel. Malaysia is complicated, like most Islamic countries, to have a fourth leg, the papacy (or ulamma, but I used papacy to continue the p theme, trying lah). Enuff said as we observe what’s going on.

    I worry about Singapore. I try this time around to see what I can do, gave myself a 2 year time frame before I fall prey to civil servantitis.

    Wish me luck.

    Uki Tan

  32. Dan E said

    Dear Uki,
    Wish you the best in your endeavour.

    I believe change is happening, but also believe that change is not happening rapidly nor boldly enough. This sort of one step forth and two steps back is probably the most costly mistake that the government can make.

    After all, it is just too easy for a 2,000 ton gorilla to slip back into its comfort zone and simply try to repeat what has worked before.

    Nevertheless, we shall see.

  33. Makiko said

    Dear Dan,

    Well written and articulated.

    Judging from the positive comments received, you certainly do not belong to a minority group.

    Questions remain: Who? When? How? Or do occasional throwing of sympathetic glances at our badly-battered political talent distributing flyers near Coleman suffice?

    Changes will take place, for sure. But changes will not take place by themselves.

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