To fly a Flag

Love should be easy… except when it is not.

This National Day, I really want to hang the Singapore flag from my flat. Want to. I stay in a HDB unit that is facing the main road and I used to work in the government sector, but NO ONE ever suggested (strongly or otherwise) that it is something I should do.

It’s something I want to do simply because I think and believe we are in a good place.

I really do.

I know a large and vocal group of you (39.9% based on the 2011 General Elections results) will read the last few paragraphs and immediately dismiss me as a “pappy”, “sinkie” or brainwashed drone of the government, but like I said, give me a chance and hear me out.

We’ve been around a bit and I think I’ve mentioned before that we don’t think there is anywhere else in the world we would rather live in.

I stand by that statement.

There is something to be said about being able to walk down the street at 2am in the morning for my favourite bak chor mee and not have to worry about getting mugged. I am comforted that I need not worry that someone might run off with my handphone if I leave it at the kopitiam table for a short while or that my pocket will be picked on a busy bus/train (I’ve got a bit of a track record).

The peace of mind from not being in a constant state of alert is something that we did not know we’d missed. We did not even know that we lack this “fear” until we encountered it first hand in some of the places that we’ve visited. In some cities, the prospect that we might have a parang around our necks or a gun pointed at our faces if we were not careful is all too real. Now imagine living in that climate 24/7 your whole life.

I like the fact that when I want to make new friends in Singapore, I am not defined by my race/religion/job-or-lack-of-one.

We cannot afford a car but we are still thankful that we have a roof over our head and getting three square meals a day is normally not a problem.

I know these are bread and butter issues, but I think that they are things that are so common for us that we’ve started to take them for granted. I don’t think many of us can even imagine what life would be like without them.

Are we perfect? Hell, no. Can we do better? Definitely!

For one, I really wish that the communication channels could be better between the Ruling Elite and the Common Peons like me. And I believe it is something we need to work on from both ends of the table.

And to do that, I think we need to raise the level of public discourse.

I think the government needs to be aware that it is not all frivolous chatter out here. I think they need to know that there are credible people on the internet who are voicing very real concerns and they need to take them seriously. I think we’ve reached a point where a credible online forum could potentially provide much better feedback than any meet-the-people session can.

The Government needs to realize that Internet chatter is here to stay and sometimes, prosecuting anyone who shares a dissenting view just lends these voices credibility which they might not have in the first place. Sometimes, truth is the absolute defence. Instead of charging people with lawsuits, maybe there needs to be more transparency in the system so that we the people could make more informed decisions and judgement.

To do that, we need real “experts” that can objectively make sense of the raw data and provide their personal (even biased) opinions. Setting up OB markers and general directions on what is reported in the national media is not a means of “controlling the media” anymore. That proverbial ship sailed a long time ago. Any attempts to assert any authority on what is reported now just makes the mainstream media more of a joke than it really is. Furthermore, any credible journalist with a modicum of professional pride would never want to work in this kind of environment either. As a reader, it is hard to take the opinions of any “journalist” who choose to stay in this kind of environment seriously.

So yes, I believe the mainstream media needs to wake the fuck up, but so do the alternative news media websites.

There is just too much static online. The (more) rational voices (such as the Yawning Bread) are drowned out by idiots posing as news sources (such as the “Real Singapore” and “The Heart Truths”).

You know that there is a saying “If it is on the internet, it must be true”?

It is NOT true.

Just because some assholes used the words “the evidence shows”, “the people think” or “statistics have clearly shown”, what they blogged/wrote does not miraculously become quantifiable and true. To be a credible alternative source of information, there actually needs to be some HARD work done – some fact checking,research and double checking. “A friend of a friend of a friend” and “Another-Person’s-Blog” are NOT credible news sources.

Statistics and evidence clearly shows this. A friend of a friend told me so.

From this, I think that as a people, we need to be more media savvy. We need to STOP believing EVERYTHING some random idiot with an internet connection puts online.

Because of our “Like”-ing and “Share”-ing these shocking “Truths”, we are starting to come off as a nation of entitled, complaining assholes whose first response to everything is to blame the government. Yes, our ministers are the highest paid in the world, but they are not God, they cannot solve EVERY problem for you (cool trivia: the ministers in Singapore are earning infinite times more than what God is earning) (I said God, not pastors), and neither can ANYONE you put into office – no matter how much/little you pay them. Call me idealistic, but I sincerely want to believe that no one in office now is intentionally malicious. I think they all believe that they are doing the right thing and the best they can for the country.

I hate that we are becoming increasingly polarized as a nation. We’ve reached a point where we are all too quick to label someone as a “idiotic pro-opposition zombie” or a “brainless government lapdog”. The fastest way for me to lose faith in humanity is to glance through the comments section of Yahoo! News. I don’t think it is healthy for us to define ourselves as one or the other. I don’t agree with every one of the PAP government’s decision, but I don’t think the Opposition’s every fart smells of roses either.

In spite of all that, I am still going to fly the Singapore flag this National Day.

At the end of the day, I think what I want to say is that I am glad I am living in Singapore. We’ve got a lot of issues we need to settle, but I think we’ve built a great foundation to do that from. I am proud to be here and I am thankful for all that has been done so far.

And that’s the reason why, for this National Day I will be flying the flag proudly… even though it cost me $2.70 from NTUC.

How come the Government never give away free flags ah?

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One thought on “To fly a Flag

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 12 Aug 2013 | The Singapore Daily

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