August 09, 2006

National Pride

I'll be honest. I've never been known to be particularly patriotic towards Singapore, the passion that comes together in speech when I serve up condemnation and scorn upon how Singapore is run and its various problems. But I think being overseas has put things in a new perspective... placing all those gripes I had with Singapore in the backburner and making me feel like Singapore is truly the only home I have.

41 years ago on this day, MM Lee tearfully announced Singapore's separation from Malaysia. Looking back though, I'm sure the Minister Mentor cherishes the memories of that day not only because he managed to prove everyone wrong, but also because those tears of anxiety he cried have now given way to tears of joy. And I'm not exaggerating. Singapore has become a place we can all be proud of, one way or another. Despite the supposedly 'draconian' political system (I don't really think it's that bad) and the exorbitant prices we seem to be charged for amenities and services, I think Singapore's really a first world city that makes me proud to declare my status as Singaporean in this foreign land.

My first culture shock upon arriving in Australia was how everyone here, from Jon McKenzie from the Outback to Jeff Green from the Environmentalists gets to have a go at the Prime Minister. It's like everyone lines up to hurl abuse or incite unrest against the Prime Minister and I can't help but feel that it contributes to increased inefficiency. Back in Singapore, things are orderly and quiet and although not everyone is happy about the lack of a political voice, at least things get done on time and efficiently. There have been many instances in Australia where I've felt out of place or culturally inadequate and I do not think that this is in any way due to Australia being a bad country. Quite the contrary, I think this country has exemplary manners and its policy of letting everyone have a 'fair go' is quite remarkable. But somehow, I've realised that after being born and bred in Singapore where things are totally different, trying to adapt to the Aussie way of thinking and lifestyle would prove to be a tad bit challenging.

I know I said in the past I would love to get a PR and to settle down in Australia. Would it be fickle to say I've changed my mind after 2 years? It's been a great experience studying overseas and I've learnt many new things but ultimately, when it comes to the crunch, I hold my hands up high and am not ashamed to admit that Singapore is where I belong in the end. Despite all the gripes, bad press and 'strictness', I'm still proud that when my degree is finished and I'm contemplating where to head off to, I have a first-rate, clean, safe and economically prosperous country to return to.

So say we all, so say we all.

This is home truly, where I know I must be.

Traveller fell apart at 11:50 PM

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