Thoughts on Nation Building From A Singaporean Mom

This has been a heady year. It started on 23 March with the passing of our founding Prime Minister. It was followed by a week of unexpected and unprecedented mourning and displays of unity as a nation. That week brought tears to my eyes on a daily basis. I think that in one short week, the majority of us realized our identity as a nation, not just a state.

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Then in the last one month, the nation prepared for our golden jubilee. There were fireworks, Black Knights, aerial displays, mobile columns, heart rending songs of national pride. Everywhere we went, we could see little snippets of Singapore as we knew it, Singapore as we know it, and glimpses of Singapore that we do not yet know. It all culminated on 9 Aug with the grandest National Day parade we have ever seen. It was a justifiable expense to celebrate our golden jubilee. I have never felt prouder as a Singaporean.

As I pondered over the meaning of the golden jubilee, our trials and tribulations as a nation, and the recent events, it became apparent how I can do my part as a stay-at-home-mom and how I can contribute to nation building. In fact, if I may so boldly put it, nation building starts at home and I want my children to grow up knowing what it is to be a Singaporean.

I will teach them about our history.
Not the Sang Nila Utama or the Sir Stamford Raffles parts. That, I will leave to the schools. Instead, I will tell them about the accidental birth of a nearly still born state. About Lee Kuan Yew and his legacy. About his iron will and determination to succeed. About his clarity of thought of how Singapore must survive as a nation. About his vision of a garden city that bore fruit after many decades.

About why we must be tough and keep ourselves strong. About why we had that first national day parade in 1966. About why they must serve the nation when they turn 18. About why we dam up all our rivers for water. About why we are so clean and obsessed about preventing corruption. About why our highly efficient public service actually works.

About why we are all living in high rise apartments and no longer have a hole in the ground in the backyard. About why we are so obsessed with meritocracy and school results. About why we are so adamant about equity and equal opportunity. About what a very different Singapore would have looked like if we had not made certain tough decisions.

I will teach them the values of our pioneering generations.
About the pioneering generations’ ingenuity and hard work in transforming our country into what it is today. That it is not just about them. “…ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” – John F. Kennedy.

I will teach them that there is more to life than getting good school results. That intellect is no substitute for wisdom. That they should pay forward to society so that their next generation will benefit as we have benefited from the efforts of our pioneers.

I will teach them that they must learn to think.
Our achievements over the last 50 years are not repeatable by following a tried and tested recipe. The world has changed and we must adapt as our forefathers have. Technology has transformed the world. There will probably not (maybe never) be another Lee Kuan Yew to guide Singapore to the next 50 years.

The plurality and diversity of thought and freely expressed dissenting views will become the norm. The sharp intellect of a chosen few may not be enough to bring us through. What we need may be a paradigm shift in thinking and doing.

Singapore can no longer just add value. It may no longer be enough. To survive and flourish in the next 50 years, Singapore must create value. To create value, we must think, imagine, innovate, and create the next internet, the next Facebook, the next Space-X, Lunar-X.

I can’t teach them how to imagine, innovate or create. It is innate in children. But I shall focus on preventing myself from killing their inquisitiveness and imagination.

The world is changing faster than we can ever imagine. If we were to stick to our old paradigms, we will become second rate and mediocre. My part to nation building will thus be to prepare my children for the new world unfolding in front of their eyes. I don’t think that I will ever be ready for it but I think they will.

 

Here are some useful resources for parents to teach their kids about Singapore
Who What Why LKY, a group of mothers came up with this very meaningful project which contains free activity pack to help young children understand WHO Lee Kuan Yew was, WHAT he accomplished, and WHY it matters.

SingaPlorers, this mother conceptualised, researched and developed this card game on Singapore’s Nation Building.

 
Some National day posts that I enjoyed reading
SG50 – The Lady turns 50 – by Yann
What National Day this year means to me – by Lyn
A New Beginning – by Dorothea
SG50 and beyond, we will get there – by Veraday
I’ll be 57 … – by Angie
Hop on this blog train to see what Singapore means to these mothers.

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Images of Singapore – RSAF Black Knights

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For posterity, I thought I should add on these pictures to complete Images of Singapore.

I was supposed to be nursing a flu at home but ended up making a last minute dash to catch the Black Knights on their first day of performance. The dad had brought the kids to join some friends for a yacht trip around the island. They had the best view, with Black Knights flying right over them but I would have puked buckets if I joined them.

As part of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, the Republic of Singapore Air Force Black Knights will perform a 25-minute aerial display above the waters off the Marina South area from 7 to 9 August 2015, 12pm daily.

It started to drizzle even before I got there and the rain just got heavier into the show. I was drenched and soaked through but stood there long enough to finish watching every single manoeuvre by the Black Knights. It’s been a while since I’ve done something this crazy!

The open area which was usually deserted was packed with people and cars. Not the best condition to ride a bike as I had to wrestle with cars and people. Didn’t help when my iron lady wasn’t really made for rougher terrains, worse when I am still cumbersome with handling the drop bar.

All in all, I don’t think the Black Knights put up their best show today due to weather. Certainly looking forward to clearer skies for the next couple of days.

P/S : Head over here to read how this mom avoid the crazy traffic and found the perfect place to catch the display, with food, seat, shelter and a vantage point to catch the show.

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Images of Singapore – A Little Something For SG50

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This post is a compilation of images of Singapore captured during my many cycling trips, usually morning.

I marvel at how beautiful this little red dot has become, how much she has transformed and how far we have come. As cliche as it may sound, I feel really privileged to call myself Singaporean.

Her last 50 years have been nothing short of spectacular and miraculous. I hope that the next 50 years will be as good if not better than the last and I wish to live long enough to celebrate her centennial.

Happy 50th Birthday my country, my sanctuary, my home!

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