Kishore Mahbubani’s academic viewpoint of reality in ST’s “Three stories to strengthen the Singapore spirit” is really humourous.
Kishore says if there is a war, Singaporeans will “save the lives of people who are the strangers they meet in MRT trains and buses”. It really makes one wonder how he came to such a conclusion. A couple of years ago, I asked my teenage son to find out if any of his friends are willing to die for the country. Guess what? Nobody ‘keechiu’.
An increasing number of citizens have lost faith in a system where citizens are enslaved by our leaders to the greatest GDP machine. Kishore should know economic digits do not have any spirit so my question is “strengthen what?”.
Singaporeans, especially our youth, are not stupid. Maybe Kishore still believes there are no adverse effects of economic policy shortcuts and citizens just KPKB for fun.
He further engages in self praise, boasting about Singapore having the best A – Z which are the envy of other nations. Do other countries really envy our sky-high public housing? Isn’t affordability the objective of public housing or perhaps it is simply to create envy?
Kishore gives us a short history lesson on how European immigrants shed their identities within a couple of generations after arriving in the US. He admires American’s strong sense of national identity and hopes to emulate them. He foolishly believes there is a shortcut to reaching the “same level of national identity that Americans feel about themselves”. Kishore then offers his pearls of wisdom on how this process can be expedited.
Kishore says “the simple answer is that nations are built through story-telling”! No wonder our government is run on fancy slogans and posters, with politicians and government convened committees making motherhood statements for decades. It seems our government has already been engaged in story-telling – telling tall stories!
It’s a joke to compare the US with our pseudo-democracy. The Americans went through wars, experienced catastrophes and destruction. Their pride comes from more than 2 centuries of shared history and suffering. Kishore thinks he is able to compress another country’s history, add some spin and the Singaporean spirit will be strengthened in double quick time! Dream on.
We should not be compared to the US because of our extremely limited freedom ie press freedom, civil service, unions and grassroots organisations are all controlled by the government, etc. However, there is total freedom for the government to implement policies at its whim regardless of adverse consequences. There is freedom for ‘workers’ unions’ to create unfavorable conditions for employees. For ordinary citizens, maybe only air and rainwater are free.
Bear in mind we do have a system where leaders decide on every issue. Their long list of “do not do this and that” keeps increasing. From the bedroom to the boardroom, the PAP must have a say. We have also heard the SMRT announcement instructing commuters to report on suspicious objects or persons ‘a million times’ since more than a decade ago. Citizens are treated like robots which require input. Kishore thinks a robot somehow has a spirit.
Kishore compares our country to the “socially caring” Scandinavian states and says that Singapore has been increasingly helping the needy. He claims the “$8 billion package for the pioneer generation is extraordinarily generous”. He has failed to see our government has belatedly (by 2 decades) assisted elderly citizens and if the needy have been fed by our ‘kueh lapis’, how come so many still KPKB? Nothing better to do?
Kishore should take an objective look at society. Go talk to elderly cleaners, an increasing number of them above 80, and their colleagues. Eat often at food courts and commute on public transportation. Only then will he reflect reality in his articles. Singaporeans have already heard too many tall stories.