berthahenson

A non-cynical response to National Day 2015

In News Reports, Politics, Society on March 16, 2015 at 6:06 am

So it’s going to be a long holiday in August…a four-day weekend! Hey, if Polling Day was tagged on Thursday Aug 6 or Tuesday Aug 11, it would be five days of no work! But, sheesh, we would have to vote before leaving town or come back early enough to vote. We DO want to be in town for the general elections don’t we? But if the GE wasn’t held in that period, would we stay in town for the National Day/SG50 celebrations alone?

I don’t know why there is so much cynicism towards the SG50 celebrations. Some people think it is just SG50 fatigue. The drum roll started too early and we are tiring of the beat. News everyday about all the grassroots groups, schools and commercial types getting on board are becoming wearisome. That red dot with SG50 stamp is so wide-spread that it is ceasing to be meaningful. I wanted to get on the bandwagon too. I wanted to get a grant from the celebrations committee for a book to commemorate SG50…but then, there will be so many, many books I gather. As well as films, exhibitions, songs and whatever creative way anyone can think of to talk about this nation.

Hopefully, the people behind the celebrations pulling the strings will be able to build things up to a climax, on National Day. On that day, I hope a lot of people take in the celebrations at home (by staying in the country) and as many Singaporeans abroad return to see how Singapore celebrates its 50th birthday. Serious.

People ask a lot of black-and-white questions about whether it’s patriotic to go away at this time. It’s not unlike the angst every year when people take a holiday during the Chinese New Year period instead of hanging around for reunion dinner with the extended family.   I am sure there will be people who go away because it’s not often you get such a long break that isn’t part of annual work leave. And there will be people who say there is “nothing to do’’ in Singapore anyway. Or people who say we don’t have to be at home to celebrate, we do so in our hearts.

I just look at it this way. Your granddad/mom or dad/mom is having his/her 70th

/80th birthday bash and wants his/her whole family to be around. The most enthusiastic takes over the organization and even the most distant relative, whom you see once a year, expects an invitation. Sibling rivalries are tamped down and we seat squabbling relatives far from each other. Everybody is determined to have a good time or at least not to let the grand old man/lady down, even though we think he/she might be the devil himself/herself. And when the birthday cake is rolled out, we sing the birthday song lustily and throw in several yam sengs.

What counts is the years that have passed and the whole family still made it through – more or less. That’s my poor analogy for SG50.

So can I ask that we see this year’s National Day this way instead of tainting it with sourness? That we do not link the party with our constant pre-occupation with MRT breakdowns, the coming elections and the foreigners in our midst? Or who is getting free tickets or not? Or why there are some freebies and not others? Let’s not dampen the mood so early in the year over some thing that will happen several months later.

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