Two messages caught my attention this National Day.
The first was the Prime Minister’s National Day Message yesterday. He spoke of a new chapter to be written in the Singapore story, a chapter that will progress on a road different from that which we had travelled previously. He spoke of a Singapore where everyone will always have a stake in, one that will become possible when we stand as one united people, and not divided by race, social class, or political faction.
The second was at the national day parade. It was a message about a Singapore that is made up of many stories but all leading towards the story of one Singapore.
As I watched the many little stories that the performers put across, as well as the snippets of stories on the big screen, I was reminded of my own story.
Two and a half years ago, I decided to continue the story of my life from that point onwards in blue. I stepped out of my comfort zone and took the plunge into politics in GE2011. It was a step taken with the belief that there are different stories that each of us wants to write. It does not make one less Singaporean or less loyal to our country if our views differ from that of the government’s.
I recently visited a country that underwent an unexpected change of government. At last month’s general election, Bhutan’s former opposition went from 2 seats out of 47 previously to 32 out of 47. I had the chance to see the handover of power, with the swearing in of the new ministers and all MPs while I was there. What struck me was an orderly transition of power. The political parties and the people accepted the choices made at the ballot boxes and the handover was smooth. The new government could go about its business and write the next chapter of the country’s story the way they feel they must. Five years later, it will be for the people to judge the government’s performance and decide again.
I sincerely hope the National Day message of one united people, not divided by race, social class, or political faction will hold true. As it is, opposition MPs are not made into grassroots advisors. The People’s Association, which is given substantial ground resources and whose mission is “to build and bridge communities in achieving one people, one Singapore” works only with the ruling party. It certainly does not gel with the concept of unifying the country regardless of political faction nor does it respect the wishes of the constituents who had chosen their MPs. It leaves opposition MPs to form their alternative grassroots communities whilst deprived of government funding support to serve the community that elected them.
The recent MDA regulatory framework had also caused an uproar amongst the blogging and internet communities. It has cast a shadow over earlier moves by the government to loosen up on its engagement with citizens.
We were told that Singapore is now embarking on a new chapter of her story. 48 years after our independence, we should be growing into a more matured society able to handle divergent views, more capable of handling people with their own stories to write, stories that may not necessary agree with the views of the government but are nevertheless part of the stories that can move Singapore forward.
My birthday wish for Singapore in this new chapter is therefore one in which regardless of political factions and views, we will be matured in moving forward as one united people, fairly respecting the wishes of the people. Happy 48th National Day.