How to be a Better Singaporean in 5.5 Ways
Be strong, because things will get better. It may be stormy now but it never rains forever.
If there’s ever a year that should be cancelled, 2020 is numero uno on that list. When we oooh-ed and aaah-ed as the fireworks lit up our Marina Bay skyline at the death of 2019, no one expected the year to turn out quite like this:
People working from home;
Pay cuts becoming the norm;
Whole country on lockdown;
‘Circuit breaker’ no longer a mere by-word for an electrician;
Faces half-full; places half-empty.
With the economy in the dumps and unemployment rates higher than ever before, even those working are told that they are fortunate to still have a job — even though pay kena cut like nobody’s business.
As tensions run high, one saga after another erupted to fill the collective void and to round off the general unhappiness brought about by COVID-19.
But let’s just take a moment to centre yourself.
With Singapore’s 55th birthday right around the corner, it would be great to remind ourselves what makes us unique as Singaporeans — and what can make us better.
I could list 55 tips but you’d be bored to death, and overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by Mount Procrastination because frankly, that’d be a tall order.
5 tips and a shot of a bonus (half) tip will do you just fine. Majulah!
1. One Peepur, One Nation
One people, one nation, one Singaporeeeee! That’s they way that it should be, forever moreeeeee! — Singaporeans in unison every 9 Aug
I mean, if you’ve never heard that song before, are you really Singaporean?
Especially in trying times such as this one, the message is clear — we’re here together, not to compete, but to elevate one another.
You are NOT part of a homogenous society. We look different, we sound different and we might even act different. But let’s not allow these differences to drive a wedge between the Cs, the Ms, the Is and the Os (I’m still debating whether such divisions are obsolete, but that’s for another discussion).
Let’s recognise these differences, and celebrate them! Not just on Racial Harmony Day, but every single freakin’ day. Make that extra effort to understand one another; ask questions no matter how dumb, but always remain sensitive. Ask to discover; not to stir — don’t be an askhole. If you unintentionally offend your fellow Singaporean, apologise.
Don’t get defensive and definitely don’t start a faceless social media account with a meme for a profile photo just to rant and ramble against your fellow countryman. Then cry victim when the authorities come a-knockin’.
Instead, always 👏 seek 👏 common 👏 ground 👏 .
Singlish is a prime example, eating is another. Drinking depends on your fellow Singaporean’s level of piousness. All I’m saying is that integration is possible without having to compromise on your religious, political and moral beliefs.
Let our differences be the thread that actually binds us closer together — a close-knit community.
On the topic of threads and knits, our new T-shirt drops on National Day, 9 Aug at 0000hrs. Also, look out for our promo deal which lasts only for 24 hours!
2. Support local
You bemoan the fact the movie Crazy Rich Asians wasn’t a true and accurate indicator of Singapore. Or what a Singaporean is.
You bemoan the fact that apart from academia and economics, Singapore is not truly represented on the global stage.
You complain that the clothes, songs, books, movies etc. are not of the same ilk, same standard of the “globally-renowned” brands.
But when your friend or acquaintance ekes out a creative pursuit of sorts (fashion label, food, drinks, app, productions, songs, movies, books, comedies etc.), were you there at their level one?
And even if you were, were your conversations always punctuated by the much-dreaded ‘member price’?
We’re talking about small local businesses here — pre-pubescent enterprises forging perhaps their first foray into the great unknown. And at the same time, trying to make ends meet.
We might be a densely-populated nation, but in raw numbers we’re still small. Any sort of support will go a long way to determining the fate of your local businesses, artistes, authors, artisans and what-have-yous.
Share their stories, their offerings, their social media presence. If you won’t support your fellow Singaporeans, who will? And with your support, perhaps the world can truly know and understand what Singapore really is.
You bat not an eyelid paying for astronomical prices for your Supremes and your Off-Whites, concert tickets of your favourite overseas bands, spend hours on end binging on Netflix, and chillin’. And don’t get me wrong, if you can afford the time and/or money why not.
But for a fraction of these costs, you can help realise the dreams of our local entrepreneurs. The Singaporean dream.
3. You’re cancelled!
It’s one thing to support your local endeavours, but to defend racists, misogynists, homophobes and xenophobes et. al. to the hilt is another thing altogether.
Promote and celebrate diversity, sure. But if your opinions or opinions- disguised-as-facts lead to fissures in the social fabric, what are you really championing?
Say no to racism (or microagressions…).
Say no to misogyny.
Say no to homophobia.
Say no to xenophobia.
These might be deeply entrenched in our system and wholesale changes are frankly impossible and unrealistic. Will it continue to happen? Most definitely. But that does not mean we give up.
One has to learn how to walk, before they can run. And maybe in due time, we may even fly.
But let us start small.
Influence those around us, our own social circles. And those social circles positively influenced other adjacent groups. Be a more tolerant community and unless your name is Dredd, don’t be quick to judge.
Call out such errant behaviour, make it the new normal not to accept discrimination, no matter how subtle. Even if you’re the sole voice. Don’t be swayed into thinking that you’re the problem.
You are the solution.
And the more you voice out (calmly, professionally) will you dissolve the hardened hearts of these bigots.
It’s about time we cancel them.
4. Be a loving critic
You are NOT a sheep.
You’ve mental faculties that allow you to think and discern any and all information you received. You might have been deceived before, but that does not mean you shall be deceived till kingdom come.
You are of no value being a sycophant. Speak up and speak out cause you’re passionate about the state of the country you love; not quieten ’cause you’ve given up on the politics that govern our nation.
Be one who engages in discourse and not judgment; one who loves the country yet recognises that country not necessarily = government.
Be THE loving critic.
And if you’re keen on wearing it proudly across your chess, our Loving Critic tee in white is still available. Contact us to order!
5. Self-praise is international disgrace
Or so the walls of my primary school echoed amidst the chatter of impressionable young Singaporean minds.
Do I agree? Most def.
But sometimes you gotta blow your own trumpet to reach the level that you dream of. But most times, it’s best to leave the praising to someone else, and for someone else.
We’ve come to a point as a nation where complaining has been so commonplace that it’s almost a national hobby. A multitude of sites like STOMP and social media accounts dedicated to exposing and showing off other Singaporeans in a not-so-flattering light.
Perhaps it’s schadenfreude.
The pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. It’s not a trait specific to Singaporeans, but rather a universal one. It’s why road accidents cause heavy, expletive-laden jams not ’cause of the unfortunate obstruction, but rather other motorists keen to survey the damage suffered by another human being.
And it’s also why such online platforms will keep on getting the pageviews, the likes and the follows because it’s such a human thing to want to see these things.
But my plea here is for you to not give in too much to your primal needs. Let’s buck the trend.
Let’s praise more.
Let’s upload more videos depicting acts of kindness and graciousness.
Let’s enable Good Samaritans and give them their one-minute of fame.
Let’s comment more with positivity.
Let’s celebrate the good as much or even more than the bad things we see offline-to-online.
Maybe we can even start a movement and beat the Germans to the coining of a term to describe this praising phenomenon. Here’s my suggestion: Singafreude — the pleasure derived from the good tidings of others.
5.5 Collect what is yours
And for our bonus tip (or half-tip)…
You may have signed the petition. You may have lobbied vociferously on your personal social media channels to stop the insanity and channel taxpayers’ funds to more significant causes. Oh, causes such as that itty-bitty thing called the coronavirus. Or maybe even better welfare for our migrant workers. Yikes.
Yet our digital signatures never saw the light of day. The virtual ink was perhaps still drying when the purchase orders for the funpack were confirmed, pending delivery.
So there you are, mouth agape; wondering if the petition is all but an influencers’ click-bait to get more followers. But gotta hand it to you — you remain steadfast. Your collection point might just be at your void deck (less than a stone’s throw) but still you’re not gonna collect this year’s National Day Parade funpack (a misnomer, given our current plight).
Here’s where I come in and tell you ‘It’s okay’. No one’s gonna judge you. If they are, who gives a shit? You’ve already indicated which side of the fence you’re sitting. Your resolve is beyond doubt. Money spent. Taxpayers’ money. Unless of course you’ve been an evasive thorn in IRAS’ side, you’re a taxpayer!
Go ahead — collect what is yours. It contains essential supplies such as disposable face masks and hand sanitisers. Spread love, I’d say, not germs!
And if your stars align, you might even win the Yeo’s lucky draw. Just don’t throw the can away yet (if you do, RECYCLE). And if you gonna feel dirty winning whatever prize they have in store, donate to the less fortunate.
Make someone else’s day, by also making yours. Win-win.