Singapore’s National Day

So, Sunday is August 9th, Singapore’s National Day. The country will be celebrating it’s 44th birthday, it’s 44th year of nationhood, supposedly. I say supposedly because I remember reading recently that the Prime Minister said that Singapore is not yet a nation. I know he was speaking figuratively, but it still can’t be a fun thing to hear if you’re a Singaporean. I’ve seen that same sentiment echoed quite a few times on forums and in blog posts, though. There are plenty of Singaporeans that feel as though Singapore doesn’t belong to the Singaporeans anymore.

Somehow, I can’t blame them. A full third of the population isn’t native. About 68% of the country’s jobs are given to foreigners. The country has been built up quite nicely for just 44 years of self-government, but somehow it has failed to produce people who feel like they belong.

Here are some quotes I pulled from a blog post’s comment section:

This is just a small sampling. You can visit the blog post itself for more, but this is just to show that there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with the current situation in Singapore. There were even comments from Singaporeans stating that they planned to wear black on National Day, rather than the national colors, to represent the fact that they’re mourning rather than celebrating.

Still, not everyone was full of doom and gloom. My wife and I walked through Pasir Ris Park tonight and it was packed full of people barbecuing and camping out for the night. There were tents everywhere! It sort of reminded me of parks and neighborhoods in the US on July 4th, with groups of family and friends getting together to celebrate.

From what I’ve read, and I’ll admit it isn’t too much since I try to steer clear of much involving Singapore politics, people have come to believe that National Day in Singapore is more of a celebration of the PAP (People’s Action Party?) than a celebration of the people, and so a large portion of Singaporeans aren’t as enthusiastic about the day as they used to be. It’s pretty sad that many people in Singapore are opposed to celebrating their own national holiday.

Singapore is a young country. It has a lot of maturing and learning to do yet, and I’m sure that in time it will become a place that all Singaporeans are proud to call home. So, here’s hoping for that day. Happy 44th Singapore.

8 thoughts on “Singapore’s National Day

  1. Good points about the PR application process. I suppose you're right that it is easier now, and maybe that's not a great thing. On the other hand, it was probably necessary. If the government wanted to seriously increase the labor force it had to lower standards. If that isn't what the citizens wanted and has been detrimental to the citizens, then it should be re-examined and re-thought.

    As for the US, I'm half expecting riots if the national health care bill passes. I imagine there would be a lot of problems if there was a huge influx of foreigners in the US. People are already about to have aneurisms over the number of illegals in the country. If the government started letting people in by the hundreds legally, I have a feeling that physical violence would become common place.

    I've heard the same thing about immigrants using Singapore as a stepping stone to the US. My wife told me that a lot of Filipinos have that idea in their heads. As for resentment towards foreigners being caused by their own behavior, I really, really understand you on that one. Read THIS article I wrote and you'll get an idea. Damn, some of them make it easy to hate them. Uppity bastards…

    I try my best to not make a fool of myself when I'm out and about on the streets, though sometimes while trying to get on or off the train, or while trying to get through a mall I start to lose my temper. I get tired of being the one that always dodges left and right to get out of everyone's way, often still getting bumped and jostled anyway, so I just walk in a straight line and emulate.

    I have really enjoyed my time living in Asia, and I'm not quite ready to go back to the US yet, but I'm sure that when I do I'll appreciate the commonplace things that are considered luxuries here a lot more.

  2. Good points about the PR application process. I suppose you're right that it is easier now, and maybe that's not a great thing. On the other hand, it was probably necessary. If the government wanted to seriously increase the labor force it had to lower standards. If that isn't what the citizens wanted and has been detrimental to the citizens, then it should be re-examined and re-thought.

    As for the US, I'm half expecting riots if the national health care bill passes. I imagine there would be a lot of problems if there was a huge influx of foreigners in the US. People are already about to have aneurisms over the number of illegals in the country. If the government started letting people in by the hundreds legally, I have a feeling that physical violence would become common place.

    I've heard the same thing about immigrants using Singapore as a stepping stone to the US. My wife told me that a lot of Filipinos have that idea in their heads. As for resentment towards foreigners being caused by their own behavior, I really, really understand you on that one. Read THIS article I wrote and you'll get an idea. Damn, some of them make it easy to hate them. Uppity bastards…

    I try my best to not make a fool of myself when I'm out and about on the streets, though sometimes while trying to get on or off the train, or while trying to get through a mall I start to lose my temper. I get tired of being the one that always dodges left and right to get out of everyone's way, often still getting bumped and jostled anyway, so I just walk in a straight line and emulate.

    I have really enjoyed my time living in Asia, and I'm not quite ready to go back to the US yet, but I'm sure that when I do I'll appreciate the commonplace things that are considered luxuries here a lot more.

  3. TC

    I agree totally with what you said about those uppity idiots. As for the crowd problem, just bump them back, and you didn't come this far to be jostled by some idiot shrimp on this island! 😛

  4. Well, that's true, so maybe what Singapore needs to do is reconsider its citizenship policies, PR policies and work pass policies. Perhaps the answer to keeping people in Singapore is to make getting real citizenship a less daunting process.

    I'm not really sure why this problem is so severe in Singapore. In the US there are (only guessing) tens of thousands of immigrants every year and it does nothing to lessen American pride. In fact, people are avid about getting to the US and getting citizenship or at the least green cards so they can feel like they belong to the US as well.

    Why can't the same be true for Singapore? Honestly, I think the biggest problem is the discrimination immigrants face both in labor policies and by locals.

    Have you ever worked in a hostile environment, where you felt no one wanted you there? Well imagine working in that environment and living in it too and then imagine you're just doing it for the cash so you can bail out and live nicely in your home country after a few years.

    No one wants to be shit on every day by the same people that rely on their labor.

  5. TC

    Well, the PR policy is a sensitive issue by now in Singapore. THe preception is that its actually gotten ALOT easier to get an employment pass or work permit, and the island is flooded with low and middle level workers, especially those from the PRC, India etc. In the long ago past, the only way you could get to live here was either to have lots of investment cash, have a PhD in something which no one else had, or simply come on the backs of a prestigious MNC, and even being married to a Singaporean didn't gaurantee automatic PR status. Now it seems anyone and everyone can come. I am pretty much in favor of tighter policies towards those coming from the above-mentioned countries, with an authenticated educational/work-experience requirement as well.
    The US IMHO has a pretty tough immigration policy, and a domestic population that won't take too kindly to being overwhelmed by foreigners, and the balance is achieved through the political and social process. In Singapore, reversing government policy from the grassroots up is not as easy, and thus the current climate.
    In terms of treating immigrants well, the way I see it, most immigrants aren't even serious about staying here for good anyway. Many seem eager to use Singapore as a stepping stone to the US, and in addition, sometimes their behaviour contributes towards resentment of their presence here as well. Singaporeans are by and large a law-abiding peaceful lot, and some of these foreigners from certain countries act like Waffen-SS in occupied Russian territories, pushing people to anger through their odious behaviour, and no, I am NOT talking about the Americans or Germans here! ;P I do believe Singaporeans welcome foreigners though, but only those who are educated, well behaved, nice and civilized, that much I am sure of.
    As for me, I won't ever emigrate unless I'm interested in investing in some place, hiring many locals, loving the country and maybe even being in love or married to someone from there. I could never stand being viewed with derison, and thankfully I'm not in a position where I MUST work overseas to make ends meet. Like what I always tell my US-based relatives “Guys, I am NOT coming over unless I am pumping money into a business, buying some nice place in Nantucket with a sailboat to boot, about to be accepted to the Sebonack or the Vineyard Golf Club AND I'm talking to a Nicole Kidman look-alike and we're about to be engaged!” 😛

  6. TC

    [Singapore is a young country. It has a lot of maturing and learning to do yet, and I'm sure that in time it will become a place that all Singaporeans are proud to call home. So, here's hoping for that day. Happy 44th Singapore. ]
    By then, all Singaporeans might only comprise of those born either in the PRC, India and a hotchpotch of other ASEAN nations….:/

  7. Well, the drama headline is the least problem. Problem is Mediaset, a corporation in hand by the government, the news papers, too. It's easy to control information flow in Singapore. And did you know that satelite dishes are forbidden? I was shocked, because when I thought that if I end up here, I'd like to recieve German TV. No way. Only in some hotels, but you pay a fine if they catch you. Heck, even in Iran they can watch Western TV. So you have to watch whatever the Mediaset corporation feeds you with. And that surely won't be free flow of opinions and a fair share of government critics speaking out.
    Same goes for newspapers. Whatever the governemnt does, they wiill write it's great, it serves the people, it's the best and whatnot.

    Then you can imagine, why so many young people online don't understand that one can have a different opinion. On the other hand, there's many who don't buy into the shit the gov is selling them (like ur example). That gives me hope.

    Happy anniversary, Singapore ^^

  8. Age of countries is relative:

    Slovenia 18 years
    Singapore 44 years
    USA 233 years
    France 1623 years
    San Marino 1708 years

    I think the most important is the current situation. Slovenia 20yrs ago was a communist country, pretty poor. Now, 20 years later, we had 3 presidents, 6 prime ministers, a steady growth and adopted the Euro. We're now one of the more prosperous countries. Things changed for the better. Same can be said for all the other countries in the list… except Singapore. In my view, Singapore's system is too rigid and not open to change. That's because it's the only dictatorship on the list. It's welathy, but not everyone is. A big fraction of people really struggle, because their salaries are low and the costs are high.
    And then you read that Singapore is every year near bottom of freedom of press index. When I've been there, I've seen on TV how someone slammed this list, that it's biased and that it's controlled by the West (the usual suspect) and that Singapore's press freedom is totally good and that the rest doesn't understand it O_o I plan on scanning some old Straits Times and show some examples of the 'press freedom'. If you ain't free, you ain't happy.

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