RAMBLE AND BABBLE 12: SINGAPORE’S NEXT FIFTY YEARS
This is the question visitors to the exhibition are asked to write in their cards. I am never a fast thinker; and it is a strange query. Fifty years is a long time in a fast changing world, and who can really predict the future. “Que Sera Sera. What will be, will be. The future is not for us to say”. I mentioned Amos Yee’s name, and the senior organiser was visibly agitated. I continued to remark that about 61% of Singaporeans supported PAP government and uncertain whether any grievances in that category of supporters. I could see the current PM had made adjustments to some of these grievances, but the opposition or the other 39% demanded more. If Maslow was right, when people were well fed, well sheltered and well educated (“air-conditioned nation”), they aimed for higher needs and wants to get their desire fulfilled. This is the same scenario with the Chinese in China and the colony. However, are the Singaporeans (or even the Chinese in China) really that well educated? Many of them are truly bananas, full of western ideas on democracy and freedom. They complained a lot, despite being the envy of their neighbours. The Chinese said when they stomachs were full and body warm, good to indulge in fantasy about “freedom and free speech”. Had they received some Confucian teaching (I think LKY had abandoned it at his own peril), Amos would have learned to respect others first before the u-tube, even though some of his contents might be right, but not the way he presented it and the poor timing for releasing it. He would be taught about “no big, no small” (Singlish), and learned to look at LKY’s achievement first, and the” flaws”, if any, as secondary. However, in the social context of the time, what would be the alternative? For Singapore to save its fruits of success in the first fifty, the PAP government had to open their ears (Singapore’s Ga Ga’s aura scape) to listen to the loud ones, as well as the silent ones, attending with open hearts. It’s a different generations, who values freedom of speech at all cost, even to create social disharmony and chaos. PAP need to re-invent some kind of psycho-social-spiritual re-education in their education system. PAP also needs to shed the obsession with perfect 100% support in elections, an impossible task.
I wrote in a friendly blog about “Indivisible” on American Independence Day on July 4th, about liberty and freedom. The word, indivisible, contains visible individuals, searching for liberty and freedom in a democracy. Do Singaporeans and Chinese need a western type of democracy or freedom of speech? As a matter of fact, even the US is not really that free and democratic in applying fairness and justice to its own citizens? What more to talk about their standards to Asians. A lot of Asians in China, HK and even in Singapore and Malaysia conveniently ignore such facts. The next generation of Singaporeans would not place excessive emphasis on technocratic sciences, or financial management, but the need to balance with humanities and art, including philosophical teachings.
I am not an expert to offer advices or antidotes. The next fifty years, I won’t be around, but in my frequent trips to Singapore, and in my observation and reading, Singaporeans suffer from a kind of syndrome: they think they are better than Malaysians (not realising we produce the talents for them in our own stupid ways), a little less than expats. Anyway the races don’t mix so much; too many sub-culture, despite the official attempts to create a melting pot or salad bowls in parades, yet each different salad can be identified easily. There are indeed many issues in Singapore that cannot be said openly. They have yet to learn how to be contented with what they have, and yet to learn how to offer opposition in constructive ways. Even China, at the peak of Ming Dynasty, could fall; same with Greece. What more for little Singapore!
Next fifty years? When the isthmus of kra is cut they will be shivering in their boots.
Kan, I think Shanghai may replace Singapore as World No 1 port. Thailand’s Kra canal has been mentioned for decades, but so far nothing materialised.
The next general election will probably tell us more about the future and fate of Singapore. It’s going to be difficult times ahead.They have to constantly renew their idea of what Singapore should be as a nation state.And a nation founded on ideas and political will may run into a deficit as new geo-political challenges emerge.The financial hub channels hot money and acts as a repository for liquid funds and as long as it fulfills this function their position is still safe.Singapore has managed to circumvent and negotiate the bindings of international regulations on monetary transactions but this will be an uphill and enduring task in the face of volatile global currency positions which will require a more stringent regulatory framework
Thank you for your fair comment. Singapore as a technocratic and financial centre may be taken over by other nations. Best for them to explore other means of survival. Many of their young brains migrate to the west, to make rooms for ours. The opposition, freedom of speech, is often without positive action and wealth creation.