July 21, 2009

No i won’t.

Filed under: Uncategorized — theinkhorn @ 2:36 am

Interesting article in The Newpaper today, page 6. Chimes will sound at 8.22 pm on National Day, asking Singaporeans to stop whatever they’re doing wherever they are, and say the pledge.

Thats just about the stupidest thing i’ve heard all month.

The author of that article, one Miss Veena Bharwani claims to have conducted a survey amongst Singaporeans. Apparently, 41 out of 100 of us do not know the pledge at all, and only 35 can recite it. And among the same 100, only 42 said they would stop and say the pledge. They’re clearly lying.

Miss Bharwani then goes on to comment on how we should take time to remind ourselves that we are lucky to be citizens, and that thirty seconds is nothing “compared to the years it took our forefathers to fight for what Singapore stands for today”. She’s also rather proud of the fact that she can recite the pledge word for word.

Interesting. What does Singapore stand for today? Miss Bharwani mentions that she has been in Singapore for 17 years and only became a citizen a year ago. Can she really comprehend what it truly means to be Singaporean? After just one year of citizenship? Whether anyone likes it or not, the fact is citizens are treated very differently from non-citizens. If you don’t believe me, ask the expats if they think Singapore is awesome. Ask the tourists if they think Singapore is incredible. Then ask a local if he thinks the same way. If he says yes, chances are he knows nothing about his own country, which wouldn’t be surprising. Call me arrogant, call me an ass, call me anything you want, the fact is, Miss Bharwani does not qualify to speak as a full fledged citizen just yet. She has yet to understand the way this country works and the way this country serves its locals. She hasn’t voted, she hasn’t owned a flat and chances are she hasn’t stuck her nose into Singapore politics. But it’s not her fault. She has plenty of time to do so.

Along the course of the article, Miss Bharwani mentions that the words of the pledge “resonates with her heart”. First, let me just say that i can recite the pledge perfectly, forwards to back and the other way round. I have scrutinised the pledge, its concept, and its execution.

“We, the citizens of Singapore,

pledge ourselves as one united people,

regardless of race, language or religion

to build a democratic society,

based on justice and equality,

so as to achieve happiness, prosperity

and progress for our nation.”

Note the highlighted sentences. Sure, it says “to build”. not “to maintain”. So technically, it’s okay for us to not have achieved democracy yet, right? Wrong. When Mr. Rajaratnam wrote the pledge, this was what he said.

“We believe in a democratic society by governments freely and periodically elected by the people… We believe, in the virtue of hard work and that those who work harder in society should be given greater rewards… We believe that the world does not owe us a living and that we have to earn our keep.”

However, he insisted that we did not need opposition in parliament.

“Given a one-party government, the capacity of such a government to act far more independently than if it were harassed by an opposition and by proxies, is obvious. In the game of competitive interference pawns which can behave like bishops and castles and knights can in certain circumstances be extremely inconvenient and very irritating.”

Astonishing. One of our “founding¬† fathers” declaring his intentions right from the very beginning. My point is, if we’re not going to achieve democracy, then take it off the pledge. The integrity of our national pledge has been compromised since day one and no one even seems bothered by it.

Justice and equality should be present in every judicial system, every nation in the world, yes? But what is justice really? Jailing a man for armed robbery? Yes definitely. Caning a rapist? Sure. Incarcerating 3 boys for wearing a t shirt with a picture of a kangeroo in judicial robes? That is an insult to our justice system, our rule of law and our people.

And finally, the execution of our pledge. The reason people don’t remember the pledge is not because they never learnt it, nor is it completely because they can’t be bothered. The reason people don’t remember the pledge is because they don’t believe in it. They don’t believe in swearing allegiance to a country that doesn’t seem to care much about them at all. They don’t believe in the spirit of Singapore. Making primary and secondary school kids recite the pledge everyday is not going to help them remember it, much less believe in it. Citizens need to know that we are being taken care of in all ways. It just doesn’t seem that way, does it.

I don’t know which part of the pledge resonates in Miss Bharwani’s heart, nor do i know if her feelings reflected in the article were genuine. False promises don’t make me feel warm and fuzzy, which is why i don’t believe in gods. And i really hope she was just writing the article for the sake of meeting her deadline, because this country needs more journalists sensible enough to know the truth. All i know is, on the 9th of August, 8.22 pm, when the chimes sounds, you can stop what you’re doing, place your right hand over your heart and recite the national pledge. Just remember, you are a fool to take it seriously.

July 1, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — theinkhorn @ 10:29 pm

“You know what you should do Alvin. You should work in a bank.”

Its tuesday night and the pub is practically empty. Andy’s having his third Stella and we’ve been talking about my choice of career.

“You’re obviously good with numbers. You do fractions to ratios to percentages faster than many many traders i know. You speak excellent english. And you seem to be able to handle pressure. Its perfect for you.”

“I don’t know Andy. I still want to write. Its all i’ve ever wanted to do. Besides, working in a bank doesn’t interest me one bit. Trading and money and wholesale banking. No offence Andy, but its all so dry.”

Andy laughs. He’s been working in banks for over 20 years now. Wholesale banking has been his life. Me, i’m a 20 year old part time bartender who’s only work experiences involve alcohol and ice. Doesn’t look very nice on paper. The fact is, i know the paths available to me. I can’t have a career in hospitality for obvious reasons. My disdain for people in general means there are only so many jobs suitable for me. If i do decide to start a career as a trader, in 6 years i’d probably have a nice apartment, a cool car, all the money i can spend, and i’d probably be in a pub drinking myself silly all the time. Yes i’d probably earn alot more than if i were a journalist, columnist, editor or something like that, but i don’t think i’d live long enough to enjoy my money.

“Do it for twenty years or so. Then use the money to write and publish a book.”

Andy’s getting excited now. He’s listing different options.

“Alright, alright. I got it. You should be….. a research analyst.”

“What the hell, Andy.”

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