5 years ago, around the same time, I blogged about my hopes and dreams for Singapore as part of the National Day Celebrations (‘Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag’).
In case you missed it, here’s what I wanted:
“As a Singaporean, one of my dreams is for us to be able to experience a state which encourages the following:
- FREE DOM OF SPEECH & EXPRESSION BEFORE AND AFTER SPEECH & EXPRESSION HAS TAKEN PLACE
- A MORE ACCURATE AND MENTALLY PROVOCATIVE REPORTING OF NEWS BY MEDIA THAT IS IMPARTIAL and
- FOR THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT AND IT’S AGENCIES TO BE MORE ACCEPTING AND OPEN TO CRITICISM FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD AND TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTAND THAT CRITICISM, WHEN CONSTRUCTIVE SHOULD BE SEEN AS A MEANS TOWARDS IMPROVEMENT
I also have a dream for all Singaporeans:
- TO STAKE A CLAIM IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE STATE AND NOT JUST LEAVE IT TO THE POLITICIANS WHOM WE HAVE VOTED FOR”
How different have my views been over the past 5 years?
Not much really. I still believe in each and every single one of those hopes and dreams that I spoke of. More than just that, I actually have one more to add.
I would really like to see Singaporeans learn more about one another, our cultures, our ethnicities, our faiths, so that we can better engage foreigners who come to live, work and play in Singapore and make this country a better place for not just Singaporeans, but also for them as well.
Government policies aside, we can exercise our vote this coming General Elections, but as a community, a nation, we need to show the rest of the world that we are loving, caring and have the ability to accept people of all backgrounds.
Why am I so focused on this?
Because over the past few years, Singapore has had to deal with many issues related to conflicts arising out of Interfaith-Intercultural misunderstanding or miscommunication (Amy Cheong, Anton Casey, Cook A Pot of Curry). But these issues are not just exclusive to Singapore.
This issue affects each and every single country, globally, all around the world.
In the US, you have had a non-white Miss America winner which caused a huge ruckus. To quite a significant number of ignorant Americans, the typical American had to be blonde and white, which in my personal experience, is far from it. And even for those who have been living in America for a long time or are even Americans, they still face issues that recur time and again (Blackface).
These are issues related to ethnicity, culture and to some extend, faith.
Since 2014, I have been actively trying to engage the community through my own personal endeavour to spread the importance of interfaith-intercultural understanding, a personal commitment arising out of my fellowship in the US. Nonetheless, an issue I strongly believe in and champion for.
I am thankful for the opportunity that I have been given to give lectures and talks on this issue. More than that, I hope that the audience I have engaged in, have a better understanding of the dangers of what social media can do to them. Going forward, we all need to learn how to “RESPOND, NO REACT” to situations that invoke our emotions. We need to rationalise the situation and provide the best response that will create positive outcomes not just for us, but for everyone.
In the words of Zubir Said,
“Mari Kita Rakyat Singapura, Sama-sama Menuju Bahagia”
(Let us all, the citizens of Singapore, move towards happiness)
“Cita-cita Kita Yang Mulia, Berjaya Singapura”
(Together with our noble dreams, hopes, ambitions, success Singapore)
“Marilah Kita Bersatu, Dengan Semangat Yang Baru”
(Let us all unite, with renewed hope/energy)
“Semua Kita Berseru, Majulah Singapura”
(Let us all proclaim, Onward Singapore)
We all need to internalize the lyrics of our National Anthem and work towards it. The lyrics resonate with us even today as we struggle with issues and as we seek to find renewed hope/energy. But we can only achieve success and happiness, if our ambitions, dreams and hopes are noble.
So, my dear Singaporeans, this National Day, let us focus on these lyrics. Let’s remember this lyric as we enter the General Elections and vote for the candidate/party that will be able to bring everyone together to achieve our noble dreams, ambitions and hopes for our success and happiness, and most importantly, to bring Singapore forward.