It is my free day today, and instead of preparing more work, I decided to take a short break and read the online news. One article caught my eye - "Spell Singapore without LKY" - to the uninitiated, LKY is the initials of Singapore's first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of the tiny island. In his three decades at the helm, Singapore has transformed into a renowned global financial and education hub.
However, things are changing fast here. Core Singaporeans are disgruntled with new policies that they claim do not benefit them, but only the Members of Parliament. There are cries that the PAP party that has ruled for over 50 years are destroying their rice bowl by employing more foreigners and granting permanent residence to them.
A change is inevitable. Eventually another political party rival will rule Singapore but what sort of change that would take place is unseen. I shouldn't be too concerned - but I am - for LKY and his team of nation builders had worked hard for decades to take Singapore to great heights, and it would be a total waste if change brings the worst. Locals, foreigners and tourists have had nothing but praises for the government's efficiency, but I could see that the praise is slowly but surely fading. I myself have witnessed acts that I believe show a change - the opposite way. I see smokers though there are signage to prohibit smoking, I see people spitting on the pavement, I see jaywalkers and I see litters. Bus services are less punctual, buses are so crammed at peak hour, the traffic is heavily congested. Indeed, I understand why Singaporeans are lamenting and yelling at their deaf government, some cursing at the PAP for not doing anything to ease the problem. They blame corruption, greed, lack of interest in public matters. They blame foreigners who are here to earn a living. They blame everyone but themselves - not that they have to be blamed for everything.
To be honest and fair, Singapore is still a great place to work and to live in compared to some other Asian countries if you can tolerate the heavy traffic at peak hour, crowded buses as well as hectic face-paced lifestyle. I won't blame the PAP, the authorities or the influx of foreigners. The key issue now is, how the younger generation of politicians are going to handle these issues. Calling these as "problems" is tantamount to blaming someone, yet we know if LKY had not done what he had done, Singapore wouldn't be where it is now. No doubt he has made mistakes. Who doesn't? How will this matter be solved, now that LKY's health is declining as he's already an octogenarian, close to 90 years of age already. He cannot be the Mentor Minister any longer, can he? He is well aware that there must be new blood, and he has explicitly said so, for his era is gone. We're now in the "don't use the rod, it doesn't work anymore" era.
I fear for Singapore. When I see my students' attitudes - their arrogance, their crudeness, their lack of knowledge and respect; when I hear their ubiquitous "I don't care", or "Simply do, la" remarks, and their liberal use of the word "fuck" every other minute, I pray that they do not be politicians unless they miraculously transform from a worm into a butterfly by the time they reach 18. Asians have their own conservative values that need to be preserved. While we could allow some Western influence assimilate into our lives, we cannot let that influence fester and cause our unique culture to disappear altogether.
Indeed, fresh blood is needed to spur this country forward - or will these newbies suck more blood and put this once-flourishing nation into the doldrums? There will never be another LKY; he has set the foundation. Who will keep the flame burning for Singapore?