Aug 2, 2010

Live Our Dreams. Fly Our Flag.

Funny how slogans can mean different things to different people.

In a couple of days, the annual National Day Parade, the product of zillions of man-hours and resources, will culminate at the Padang. The NDP is a powerful rallying point at which to celebrate our country’s independence and achievements.

Beyond the pomp and fireworks, and towering skyscrapers, what lies beneath? What are the national values we hold dear as Singaporeans? How committed are we to the country’s success? Do we feel we belong? How much would you give up in order to benefit a fellow Singaporean? Are we - a nation?

To this end, the just-released Institute of Policy Studies National Orientations of Singaporeans Survey No. 4 is interesting in several respects. It seems that generally, Singaporeans are faring well relative to other countries in their sense of national pride. Around 30% of the approx 2,000 respondents wanted more government provision of social goods, even if it meant higher taxes. And, perhaps more significantly, 85% believed that `voting gave citizens the most meaningful way in which to tell the government how the country should be run’.

It is indeed right that the General Election remains a national level event – one which lets the people write a collective report card on the incumbent’s performance. It is wrong to re-cast a national election into a vote in favour of local estate upgrading plans, or worse, threats of withholding such plans.

As we approach our 45th National Day, we should really take stock of where our nation is going at this critical juncture. Yesterday, I met two residents of Aljunied GRC who lamented that while they had critical views on government policies, there was no point voicing them. “What can one voice do?” they asked. They could not be more wrong. If every person whom we venerate as a mover and shaker thought that way, would there ever have been human progress?

We owe it to ourselves and the next generation to do what we can, to secure a Singapore which endures. Live Our Dreams. Fly Our Flag!