Monday, August 4, 2008

It's National Day & You're Leaving Singapore

I have some NDP tickets to give away. I wouldn't in my wildest dream think that it would be hard to find some deserving owners for them. I was too confident.

These tickets are given out free every year before the National Day. In the past, long queues would be formed by hopeful citizens waiting for their turn to collect complimentary tickets. When balloting went electronic, the queue disappeared but not the demand.

It appears to me that NDP tickets are well sought after. Or are they?

I casually asked some potential ticket recipients and was mostly received by lukewarm response. Occasionally, I had to fend off some sarcasm on why I even bother. It was puzzling.

I try not to jump to a conclusion based on my brief experience although I must admit that I doubted the level of patriotism amongst Singaporeans. I am an outsider who has witnessed the boiling atmosphere live at the NDP. The high spirited mood was contagious. The burst of pride recognized no nationality and the togetherness was unmistakable. In those few hours, I could not understand who would not be proud of what they see and how they feel.

The 2008 National Day falls on a Saturday and for some, the following Monday would be a holiday. This means a possible long weekend for a getaway. For many years, I have observed the local obsession with long weekends. The sentiment is rather unanimous, as in, you must go somewhere, anywhere
. It is totally uncool to been seen back home over those long breaks. Almost sinful. Criminal.

The significance of National Day has always been questionable, at least, to me. I do see lots of symbolic display of patriotism through some celebrations at the grass root level. Beyond that, there is little evidence that the occasion hold much significance.

Over the past 43 years since independence, the identify of a true blue Singaporean has been gradually shaped. Or has it? It is not easy to complete the sentence "A Singaporean is one who is..." without involving some negativities. One example that comes to my mind is kasuism. Singaporeans usually do not have nice things to say about themselves. It is not clear if it is the absence of pride or a sheer display of humbleness, the Asian way.
Whatever it is, I am proud to be part of Singapore's phenomenal growth even though I play only a puny role.


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