So what’s new? President Nathan has finally been laid to rest. The media keeps playing annoying trailers about why we need changes to the elected presidency, the MRT train on the Circle Line is experiencing signal faults 5 days in a row (and counting) and the Zika virus is wreaking havoc in Singapore. The casualty count is approaching 200 at this moment and mosquito repellents are sold out, thanks to the kiasu and kiasi who live among us.
Several countries have issued travel advisories for Singapore. The United States warned pregnant women not to travel to Singapore, joining Australia, Taiwan and South Korea. In Malaysia, Johor’s Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat was ridiculed for allegedly saying that Singapore cars entering Johor will be checked for mosquitoes. Apparently, he was misquoted by the press in their sensational headline. This was what he actually said:
“There is a possibility that Aedes mosquitoes can be brought into the country on buses, cars or motorcycles. Bus drivers and transport companies should take proactive measures to spray insecticide to rid their vehicles of mosquitoes.”
What Ayub meant was more stringent checks and turning away people with temperatures above 37°C. He also urged transport operators, who have vehicles going to Singapore and back, to spray them with disinfectant and insect repellent as a safety precaution. Isn’t it funny how the press can distort your statements?
Just a few days ago before Hari Merdeka, I was in JB to bank in a cheque. When I arrived at the bank, I realised that I had not written down my account number. I asked the lady at the information counter if I had to join the queue and deposit the cheque over the counter. She called out to her off-duty colleague who eagerly took my passport and checked my account number for me. I almost wanted to borrow a pen from her when I realised that she had already written my details on the back of the cheque. I just deposited my cheque into the machine. No queue, no fixed protocols, but plenty of helpfulness and compassion. I was tempted to shout “Malaysia boleh!”, but didn’t want to alert the security.
Back to Datuk Ayub, he just brushed off the remarks on social media. No threats and demand for apology and certainly no legal action was taken against the newspaper. But then, that’s Malaysia. Back in Singapore, no effort is being spared to exterminate flying insects and ensuring “unity” with the elected presidency. Yes, the fumigation wipes out bees and butterflies as well. I guess it doesn’t bother Singaporeans as long as they are safe. If only they knew that if all insects are wiped out, we will also die. At a time like this, the last thing we want is a civil service that can’t cast its political inclinations aside.
It saddens me when I come across reports like this. But the saddest part is not so much the fact that the civil service is pandering to the political ambitions of the government, but the tacit acceptance of such unchivalrous behaviour. They know the game is dirty and they “wisely” support those who don’t play fair in order to benefit from their victory. Opposition politicians who keep stressing on “clean fight”, no personal attacks, compassion, gotong royong spirit, gentlemanly disposition etc have failed to realise that this new electorate is not impressed by all that. They don’t care whether it’s clean or dirty. They just want their goodies – the faster the better.
I would like to see myself as an average Singaporean, but apparently, there is nothing average about being brought up on the values of 三国演义 and being disgusted with gutter politics in Singapore. Gone are the days when righteousness prevailed, albeit in a small minority in a handful of constituencies. For decades, people in Potong Pasir and Hougang sacrificed their personal comfort for their values and beliefs. The residents proudly rejected upgrading works (to which they are rightfully entitled regardless of what the powers that be had to say) for a less resourceful MP whose heart was clearly with the people. Things have changed and that is sad. Today’s electorate just wants to “get there” whatever the means, be it a marriage of convenience, be it having to embrace a bully when tempts them with goodies or cower in fear when threatened with the underhanded withdrawal of privileges.
Posted by Gintai Singapore on Thursday, 1 September 2016
Frankly, I don’t know how the glitzy plans unveiled during the National Day rally will affect life in Singapore in the next decade. Will the grand plan pan out without a hitch even in the absence of total control? It will definitely benefit some people, but what about the rest of us who are not as “aggressive and competitive”? Will things work out even better with some creative “interference”? In a material sense, the answer to Singapore’s prospect of continued economic success may be a resounding “yes”. But there is also a resounding “yes” in another department. We will live in a society where your friends, neighbours, colleagues and even relatives will not hesitate to sell you out for their own benefit, with nothing more than a “take care” for consolation on social media. There will be no more comradeship and sacrifice. Watch your back.
© Chan Joon Yee