Singaporeans who are not happy with the country should try to improve things instead of running down the country

(MICA Photo by Siew Chwee)
(MICA Photo by Siew Chwee)

August 5, 2013,   By Tan Chuan-Jin

I began writing this note as I was reading up on ‘Empat PM’s work’ over the years. Impressive!

Then I juxtaposed it with two letters that were recently published online. One was from a Singaporean who felt ashamed to be one.

  • He was looking forward to migrating to Canada,going Home — to where I really belong — to the great North strong and free.” He visited Canada for all of 3 weeks and shared that he was treated with acceptance and respect there. To him, “Canada has one precious thing Singapore doesn’t – its belief in human dignity.”
  • Another Singaporean advised his sister not to come home to ‘soulless Singapore’.

You will find stories like these in any society. There isn’t a right or wrong story, but we do have many varied ones. No society is perfect, least of all us. I have met many many fellow Singaporeans who care for others and who are anything but soulless. And they care enough to contribute and reach out. We shouldn’t short change ourselves.

I wish these two fellow Singaporeans well, and others who may feel likewise, and that they may find happiness wherever they may be.

Truth is, no one writes our stories but ourselves.

We also choose the lenses through which we view our world and our lives. Do we want to be angry? Sad? Positive? Energized?

As individuals, we choose. As a society…made up of individuals, Government, institutions, organisations…we choose too.

Take this Empat PM effort for example, ‘amazing energy.’ So many, from different backgrounds, giving of themselves to share with others. (Watch this inspiring video)

I see volunteers in my and other areas who do their part. Our Kembangan-Chai Chee Job Hunters Team actively put in time to source for local opportunities so that our residents can find jobs nearby. For example, they manage to get some openings for handyman type work with a local Condo. It is not glamorous as there is a lot of personal time put in behind the scenes, a lot of hand holding of our residents because it is not always easy for them to step up. But these Singaporeans believe that their efforts can make a difference.

And we see this in various forms; lunch distribution, cleaning of flats, local merchants donating groceries and vouchers. We see this all over Singapore.

And I see so many Singaporeans in public service seeking to make a difference. Our Home Team, our SAF…our colleagues in our Ministries and agencies. Many working hard to make things better for our people. Everyday.

And I meet many individuals who contribute in their own quiet way to society.

Many uplifting stories. Mostly untold. Over time, I have tried to share what I can to recognise them…but one can never do justice to their service and their love for others and our community.

Let me end with a thoughtful sharing by a young Singaporean. I extract two messages he had penned.

“It is so serendipitous that you mention this idea of calling.

I spent the past few months reflecting about my calling and discussing this with my closest friends, thinking about what our future holds.

I realised that many of my peers have fallen into the category of “victims of circumstances” where they let life lead them along rather than the other way round.

I think of it as them forgetting that we humans are the ones that come up with meanings in any circumstances.

People who become victims of circumstances have forgotten to find meaning in what they do and sometimes wait for meaningful events to happen. This is where you hear phrases like “I wanted to do this, but life got in the way,” or “life isn’t good to me. Nothing meaningful seems to happen.”

 The fundamental of social science is that humans are all meaning-makers and when things appear negative and meaningless, it is only because we have chosen to view them as such.

Therefore I share the same ontology as you have shared, that we should first find a purpose to work towards and subsequently, assign meaning to all of the roads we passed along the way. 

At this stage of my life, I am developing a quiet confidence that I have the passion to make my nation a better place…

 “One of the most unexpected gains from volunteering is the chance to make friends with people from all walks of life. When people volunteer, we seldom think of that as one of the benefits but the truth is, the inclusive nature of volunteer work gives us that platform to expand our social circle and make the most unexpected friends.

Somehow I have managed to click with Mr O and he is comfortable enough to share his life experiences with me which benefits me so much more than he can imagine. It is the ethos of his generation that my current generation seem to have lost. The ability to work through any amount of hardship for simple beliefs like giving his children university education with his own savings and hard earned money. Just like what my dad has done for me. 

My work in the day exposes me to the sharpest minds and shape me to think critically and strategically while my work on Monday evenings exposes me to the biggest hearts and strongest wills that keeps me grounded, thankful, and inspired to give more. For that, I’m truly thankful for what I have and the chances I’ve been given.”

He also shared an article well worth reflecting about: There is more to Life than being Happy.’


Many stories. Big heart. Lots of soul.

It is a great day to be a Singaporean.

And I am proud to be one.

Happy National Day!


Source Link : Many stories. Big Heart. Lots of Soul. Happy National Day!

Comments :

  • Thank you for this note, sir. A much needed reminder in these cynical times of the positive qualities that define us as Singaporeans, and also of the need to keep the faith in each other, to believe that we can make a tangible difference in the lives of those around us and in ours.  Happy National Day to you, sir, and to us all!
  • As you said (well) at the recent Serangoon National Day dinner which I attended, Singapore’s is not a perfect story (for there is none) but its one we can be proud of.
  •  I have always been proud to be a Singaporean and I now I owe all that I have to the big hearts of countless Singaporeans before me, with me and will be there for others as well!


By Toh Yong Chuan – ST – 6 Aug 2013 –

Help improve things if not happy with country: Minister

Singaporeans who are not happy with the country should try to improve things instead of running down the country, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said on Monday.

“Singapore is not perfect, no society is perfect,” he noted.

“There may be things we are unhappy about, things can always be better, but that is very different from running down our own people, our own society.”

He pointed to two letters from Singaporeans that were published online last week on Yahoo News. He did not name their writers.

A check online, however, shows the letters were written by operations manager Brian Vittachi, 56, and public relations consultant Wang Su Lin, 40. Mr Vittachi had asked his sister not to return to Singapore from Sri Lanka. “Singapore has sold its soul,” he wrote, while Sri Lanka has natural beauty, culture and character.

Ms Wang said she is not ashamed of being gay but ashamed of being a Singaporean. She has emigrated to Canada which she felt was more welcoming and tolerant.

Mr Tan said he wished them well but hoped the duo would also “find it in themselves to contribute and help build Singapore”.

The minister, who praised volunteers and public servants who work to improve the lives of Singaporeans, was speaking at his ministry’s National Day Observance ceremony.

In his speech, Mr Tan also reiterated that the pace of restructuring to reduce Singapore’s reliance on foreign labour will not be slowed. But he pledged the Government will continue to help affected workers.

Companies can do their part as well by hiring more older workers and women, he said.

An officer at the event, who asked not to be named as she was not authorised to speak to the media, said: “It is not just the country, but policies are also not perfect, but what is important is that we identify what is wrong and fix them, instead of just complaining.”


Comments : 

  • While they might not want to be in Singapore. I, for one, will always call Singapore my Home.
  • 其实,我敢说,新加坡人,生在福中不知福!!!
  • Proud to be Singaporean. Flying my flag high!
  • Interesting.. These people rather be Foreign Talent in another country... Ashamed of Singapore and as a Singaporean?!
    Thank goodness they are no longer citizen..
  • I’m also proud to be Singaporean with whatever flaws it has coz I’m a FIRST CLASS CITIZEN in SG!
  • It’s ironical that they hate the idea of so many foreigners ‘invading’ Singapore and then they migrate and become a foreigner doing the same thing they dislike to another country.
  • I am very proud of my country, imperfections and all!
  •  I am proud to be a Singaporean! I cannot fathom those who claimed to love this country and their action seems otherwise.



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