This article was written in October 2008. All views here are only representative of the author and not of any other party.

The Singapore I Like To See When I Grow Up

Since Independence in 1965, and within such a short span of 43 years, we have made tremendous progress. Yet, our journey does not end now. Singapore still has a long path ahead with an abundance of achievements and landmarks yet to be forged.

What would Singapore be like in the future? Would it be a country where there is abundance in every street and alley, with wide smiles stretching from corner to corner? Or would the nation be a derelict, decrepit city state of its former past? I believe that it is in every Singaporean’s dream for this little red resilient ruby of ours to be the best it can be, and be a nation with a heart for the soul.

Terminologically, one might call this envisage for the future an idealistic utopia. Some may even hail it as hopeful thinking because of all the troubles we have today in this interconnected world we live in. However, my wish for Singapore still remains the same as I for one believe in Dreams, and through Dreams, has the foundations and progress of our island been laid.

Without doubt, such a dream for the future is perhaps only possible with a good set of governance in place. Regardless of who it may be, the leaders who guide the nation have to task it upon themselves to go the distance for Singapore. To have foresight and experts in the various ministries of governance, to lead and attain the optimal equitable results, while remaining in touch at the ground level with the hearts of the people, that I believe is how our beacons of light should always be. There is nothing wrong in bringing the country forward for the sake of national interest. But it is better for a leader to also be with the citizens and listen to their troubles and delights at a greater, more personal level. After all, a nation is built from its people.

For many years now, the people of Singapore have always asked for National Identity. We constantly asked ourselves, why can’t we be like the Westerners or like the Europeans? Even more so, why can’t we have the pleasant lifestyles of our foreign counterparts always depicted on the television? This is perhaps an unanswerable fact now, but I think that how we would like our lives to be, is determined largely on how we set our goals and discover it. Amidst the hustle and bustle of life in Shenton Way, followed by a dose or two of a rapid and challenging education system, and topped with worries whether we can meet that next deadline, possibly, many of us have forgotten how to dream – dreams for our future and how we want Singapore to be. Agreed, the next rendezvous with our dreams might not be possible in the next two or three years. However, in the upcoming decade or so, that mystical embracement of our figment of imagination, might be a reality worth going for.

While we may not totally abandon the Kiasuism syndrome that has afflicted so many of us, we might just want to slow down a little to enjoy achievements beyond the tangible. That alone, I believe, would be a success for many of us Singaporeans. We have come so far in economical and social progress, that it is perhaps time to reconcile with our national heritage. Let us not reject Singlish, or stray away from our “die die must win” attitude. These are our very own forms of National Identity – little aspects of life often forgone when it was under our very own noses as we searched high and low for it. Can these unique traits of Singaporeans be our distinguishing factor in an increasingly similar world? I certainly would wish so, such that even our foreign friends will even imitate our distinctive language and traits.

Nonetheless, despite outlooks for a gradually changing Singapore, home where the heart is, should always be kept there. From now to the future that beholds, the Singapore that I will like to always see is a country where I am familiar with my surroundings, and clean and green scenery forever out to greet me. To travel to the coffeshop and be struck with a sense of warmness and comfort as the drink stall aunty wails out her loud cry for a cup of Teh. And for the future of Singapore then to be cheerfully playing in the parks with sheer joy and laughter.

Singapore’s future will inevitably have a great many changes, but the heartbeat of our one united nation will always remain the same.

We have come so far, but we still have a long journey to traverse. To Dream, Explore and Discover, that was how Singapore started off, and to always Dream, Explore and Discover is how we as one nation will always be. In my perspective, our beginnings in this little island state of ours are by no means a stroke of luck. All of us here have a destiny waiting to be crafted, especially with our friends, families and our country. Yet, what we will want our destiny to be is by no means a matter of fate but a choice that each of us has to make. We cannot wait for our destiny to be created; rather, we have to achieve it.

How we want our Singapore to be, is how we want to dream it.

That is my dream for the future of Singapore.

Moving forward with a steady beat while retaining the sense of graciousness, good governance and a home. The Singaporean Future.

Justin Daniel Pereira
Anderson Junior College