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Saturday, February 14, 2009

The worse enemies of any citizen activism are fellow Singaporeans

Some say the bureaucrats are the worst and they want to prevent citizens from becoming thinking people of their own destiny. I disagree. Having worked in a statutory board myself, I have met many bureaucrats who would like more public comments and suggestions, not less.

Perhaps social activists would agree with me - the worst enemies of independent thought are our fellow Singaporeans. There are many people who would just discourage anyone from doing anything idealistic or proposing anything new ideas. These are the people who would pass snipe remarks and pour cold water on ideas but offer no alternative solutions. They are the ones who spend their time no news groups and shoot down every sincere suggestion. They cast doubt on any and everything governmental as a state conspiracy; and all private, non-governmental initiatives as a ploy to make money. All my life I have encountered such people.

My travels – I have always had an immeasurable thirst to see the world and have from an early age made that the key aim of my life. I have seen many Westerners done it but had no Asian role models. In two occasions when I left work to see the world for extended periods, I get cynical remarks from those who said I was either burning money or have made too much – hardly could they appreciate that I travel on budget and am a value seeker in my travels. I am spending my hard-earned cash and doing what I had wanted to achieve in my life. Neither do I lie on the beach – I interviewed people along the way and write every night to document my journeys. I enjoy writing and want to share with others my experiences and encounters.

Now that my travels have been publicized by the press – which in anyway was not sought by me but occurred as a result of other events beyond my control – some people hinted that I wanted publicity. Yes, I want publicity, but only because I want to encourage independent travel in this country and of the inspirational impact my travels would have in encouraging independent travel. In fact, I know a few young people who have done much more travels than I had when I was at their age. I am happy with that, and am happy when they told me my experiences have been inspiring to them. That is good enough for me. And I know their achievements will very soon exceed my mind. Anyone who know me through sgtravelcafe.com would have be aware of the time, effort and cost I have incurred for this cause, with no benefit whatsoever for myself.

Then about my belief that Singapore is a great travel destination and that many Singaporeans are not awareness of the uniqueness of many aspects of this country. I am really tired of seeing some Singaporeans telling other people that there is nothing to see and to do in this country. Why have they bothered to visit lesser sights elsewhere and have not even bothered to step into some of the world class museums here? And those who say we are a cultural desert. Have they thought about attending any of the many cultural activities now available in Singapore? I have friends from Asia who would fly in to attend these activities and yet Singaporeans don't even bother to find out what is available.

Some Singaporeans say that they need to travel out of Singapore to see nature and lie on fine beaches. But if you live in London, don't you too, have to spend a few hours and - brave the frustrating of the ring road jams – to travel out of the city to the countryside? They just nag and nag and nag and criticize and criticize without using their brains! Why don't they help make this country a better place?

And my drive for UNESCO World Heritage Site listing for Singapore. I get people who condemn everything in Singapore without thinking about the uniqueness of our heritage that some historians and anthropologists appreciate. These people have no interest in checking UNESCO rules and see what UNESCO is looking for – universal value. Neither do they bother to appreciate any aspects of our country. (Universal value does not necessarily imply grand physical appearance. Neither does it imply intricate artistic design per se. It implies having significance that is meaningful to human civilization. Human civilization does not just mean major cultures and countries but would encompass even small nations and indigenous peoples and tribes. Nobody now denies the contributions, wisdom and significance of even small peoples to the exuberant diversity of the world we live in today.) Even after I have highlighted my position and stand, they condemn it all the same – of course they would, as they simply condemn everything that is Singaporean everyday of their life.

Can the real Singaporean please stand up and make a difference? Stop nagging and complaining! Stop being so skeptical about everything and everyone. There are many people who try their best in whatever they do or are interested in, often without ulterior motive. They don't need you and your thoughtless snipes!


1 comment:

kevin said...

frankly speaking, singapore is a bit boring. Everythig is well organized and everywhere is clean. HK, though more crowded, can be more interesting as it shows a vivid life that is not available in most other countries. I would recommend Singapore to show the true side of life, rather than just the good side (e.g. clean and organized) of life, otherwise it would look a bit like N Korea. KEVIN