the good, the bad and the ugly Singaporean….

NB:  Apologies in advance for this rather longer post.  This is a burning issue with me.  And the second half would not make sense without the first part.  Please bear with it and read on.  Would love to hear from you.

My cousins, my sister and I were at the “Best National Day Parade Ever!”  yesterday and at the best seats in the house, ever!  I would like to thank my sister’s friend and her father for that.  🙂

It was a spectacular parade.  Ivan Heng, this year’s Parade Director, did a fantastic job weaving a story around the different segments presented so it didn’t become another series of presentations from different groups tied loosely around a theme.  Instead, the incredible story-telling linked everything together.  What could have been specatacular yet mundane turned into a well-knit, unifying programme.  From the delightful explosion of colourful and heart-felt and humourously-presented skits and songs on historical fact to the display of our land, air and sea defence capability.  Even the parade and the marchpast were weaved into the story with excellent music arrangement interlacing the different segments.  The staging was phenomenal!   It was multi-media artistry, right down to the eye-shaped screen where different segments of the theme, “What do you see” were flashed and the HDB-like split “screens” with live performers!  It culminated in the historic 8.22pm nation-wide pledge moment and the heart-tugging strains of the National Anthem amid the burst of fireworks for a fitting finale.

The story-telling not only did its magic for the National Day Parade but somehow the story intertwined the participants and the audience whether at the Marina or at home and truly unified Singaporeans, regardless of race, language or religion.

I must say even the logistics were better this year.  The ticket and security checks and handing out of the goodie bags were split into different sections.  It made the management of human traffic more seamless.  At least to me.

Kudos to everyone involved in the parade;  For a nation-unifying show that would get even the best of cynics on her/his feet.

Where am I going with this?  Stepping out of the magical arena where motivators and greeters lined exit points to chorus thank-yous and wave good-byes, we walked back to the car, parked at Suntec City via Marina Shopping Centre.  The sights that greeted us outside the mall were a crying shame. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I think it’s great that Singaporeans were congregated everywhere along the grass patches to soak in the atmosphere and possibly for most, to enjoy the dazzling fireworks display but littered, in and around them were cigarette butts, leftovers, food wrappers, drink bottles etc… etc… It was a very ugly sight and a disappointing display of the ugly side of Singaporeans.  😦  To be honest there were a few inconsiderate folks that left some cups and bottles at the Marina grandstand but overall, it was clean.  Most people bagged their rubbish (yes rubbish bags were provided in the goodie bag 🙂 ) and dumped the bags at garbage points on the way out of the Marina.

But this, was deplorable and being suddenly accosted by this terrible display, I, un-premeditated, blurted the first thing on my mind, “Oh my God (literally I was in despair), there’s litter everywhere. This is appalling!”

Then I heard this mocking echo from a young, female teenager (I will not mention race, language or religion), “Oh my God, look at her face.  It’s appalling…”  She said it twice within earshot as if she wanted me to hear her remark.

I stopped and stared at her (mind you, if looks could kill, she would have keeled over her fat abs many times over).  I was furious (not about the remark on my face).  Those who know me will know that after hours outdoors in the sun with no air-con, I literally melt.  My hair was bunched in a clip.  I was wearing white pants!!!!!! (what a sacrifice for my country) and a red blouse.  So guys, get it, I know I was no contender for even Ms Average-Looker Singapore. 😀

I was angry because I felt that there was no remorse at the lack of consideration and civic-consciousness to keep the place clean.  We need to treat public places as we would our own homes and private spaces.  That is the ultimate gracious society. 

She was holding my stare but I knew she was afraid, it showed in her eyes.  Trust me I wasn’t going to start an incident, not especially after such a beautiful parade and all my display of love for the nation and its people.

I held her stare a split second longer and I said, “And because it’s National Day, I forgive you”.  She was dumbfounded.  The group she was with, relieved.  I sauntered away.

My burning question?  How do we keep Singaporeans more civic-conscious, outside of a parade.  My generation and those before grew up with campaigns, including “Keep Singapore Clean”.  It was cheesy but it worked; supplemented by the fines, of course.  The new generation of Singaporeans/Residents only have the mindset of Singapore – the fine city.  It is funny and we need to laugh at ourselves.  But the attitude displayed sometimes of some of them is derision of what is good.  And cool, is anti-establishment (without appreciating any facet of our history and where we’ve come from). 

How do we unify them to what’s good?  Or is this not just a new generation problem?


5 thoughts on “the good, the bad and the ugly Singaporean….”

  1. “But this, was deplorable and being suddenly accosted by this terrible display, I, un-premeditated, blurted the first thing on my mind, “Oh my God (literally I was in despair), there’s litter everywhere. This is appalling!”

    Then I heard this mocking echo from a young, female teenager (I will not mention race, language or religion), “Oh my God, look at her face. It’s appalling…” She said it twice within earshot as if she wanted me to hear her remark.”


    or maybe not. that was a really kind and forgiving thing to do/say on your part. sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.

    (perhaps due the simpleton thought "appalling" was another word for GORGEOUS. heh.)

    1. i accept gorgeous. simple thought is good. 🙂

      very profound thought “the hardest thing and the right thing are the same”. 🙂

  2. I think it is not a younger generation thing. It is all around us. The one aspect of Singapore I am constantly ashamed of is the lack of civic mindedness. I may be wrong but I think it stems from selfishness. A concern about oneself without regard for others. I have often heard from friends who travel on the MRT about people who occupy seats meant for elderly. They stick those MP3 earphones into their ear and shut their eyes….the ostrich mentality. We also see the ugly Singaporean around our homes. Most of us live in apartments and it is common to see old cupboards, beds, toys, bicycles strewn on the staircase landing or void deck.
    Unfotunately, the Singapore Pledge does not speak of a gracious society per se. It seems to preach tolerance. Even some MPs are not gracious. Take the one who is head of the Table Tennis Federation. She made some unkind remarks about the coach at the Olympics and more in the saga that followed. When the coach came to Singapore to request for clarification, she did not even bother to meet with him. Was it a case of fear, pride or lack of accountability. Incidentally, this MP was a GOH at a Polytechnic convocation. The speech was anything but inspiring but that’s a story for another day.
    My point is the leaders, parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents all play a role to evolve Singapore into a gracious society. It cannot be a show. The younger generation look to their elders as examples. When they grow up, they look at the public leaders and figures.
    Graciousness is an attitude, and this cannot be taught like the 3Rs. It has nothing to do with how rich you are or your station in life. How gracious we are is a measure of how far we have come in evolving in the animal kingdom. There are humans and there are humans….it is an attitudinal thing.
    Sorry for long post…this hit a nerve…and I am no table tennis fan 🙂

  3. “And because it’s National Day, I forgive you.”

    Best. Comeback. Ever.

    Also, I share your disgust regarding all these litterbugs that seem to populate our country. There’s a whole lot of self-centredness and the ever-naive assumption that there’s someone to clean up after them. I see it all the time at work. I would sweep the classroom while my kids are doing their work, and they can’t fathom why, instead telling me to leave it to the cleaners. Cleaners who are grandparents and should be made to bend over for the umpteenth time so they can pick up that sweet wrapper you’ve so carelessly tossed on the ground? I hate to say it, but I’m convinced that all this is a product of the eroding values that are being instilled at home. Perhaps a good brainwashing is necessary.

    1. thank you! thank you! i would like to thank my father, my mother, my dead cat… ..oh and yes, my niece for bestowing this award on me… 😀

      oh gee… more the pity. such inconsiderate behaviour propagated at home. you are right. this calls for brainwashing – starting with the parents?

      and thank you for sweeping the floor. what a wonderful role model, cher! 🙂

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