“A scene from Sunday afternoon as Singapore bands played to a small audience in gigs organised by the Youth Olympic Games”
Image credit: Leonard Soosay
When i wrote the post, Singapore, What Do You Want? I did not expect the minister himself to comment on it. I was coming home, taking the bus and checking my tweets out, and someone mentioned, “Look at the comments.” And for ten whole minutes, I was overwhelmed. This was going to be a lot bigger than I’d anticipated, and more will be stepping forward to share their views. I thought I’d be able to reply every single one of you who commented, but I can’t, or won’t. It’s almost 4AM, and my left arm is still in a cast, but I will share some top line thoughts and motivations to what drove me to write that particular post.
First of all, thank you for everyone who re-tweeted the message I wanted to share, for blogging about it and driving so many readers here (Mr Brown!). For everyone who liked a comment (ANY comment), and most definitely, everyone who left a comment. Whether you agree or not with my point of view, is not the point. I want to thank you for leaving a comment, and sharing your opinion, because it matters to someone. For those of you who encouraged me, thank you, I’ve been tired out from this because I’m not used to this sort of attention, but I’m learning to handle the pressure. You’re helping ALOT. And if my fuse was short on some, I apologise.
What it was not about
1. First of, it was not a blog post: extolling the MCYS, the ministers behind it; a political mouth piece with leanings to the current government in power nor about offering justification to why we should have held the Youth Olympics here; nor discuss what good or bad will come out of it.
2. Second, it was not meant to be a political piece, forcing people to take sides, that you are either for-or-against the Youth Olympic Games, and therein lied your political alignment.
What it IS about
1. It is an independent voice. It is meant to talk about human values and human spirit, despite our differences in opinion about the games. You as a reader can choose however you want to take my words, but I stand by the integrity of this blog, that it is a post meant to encourage everyday people like you and me, working & volunteering on the ground, and putting a spotlight on youth athletes who show us the values of human spirit; hard work; and how celebrations and disappointments are a natural course of life.
1. My main motivation for writing this post, is perhaps best embodied in my previous post, “The Case Of The Local Music Scene Vs. You, The Consumer” My main motivation was to encourage. I’ve been playing in Singapore indie bands for about ten years, never breaking the mainstream, or seeing so many of my friends hit a ceiling when it comes to how far we can take our music. I’m not pinning the blame on the consumer / audience, but we know what it’s like to struggle, and fight for a craft, and no one seems to care. You could say I empathised with the athletes, volunteers and workers, because I felt that they were in a similar situation (despite a multi-million dollar budget).
I could just not care, and continue being a trainer for 2 weeks, collect my pay and go home, carry on with my life and write in my blog about other things. But like my previous post, I realised that *while* it would be nice to change mindsets, that’s way too selfish and self-righteous.
What was within my capacity, as a normal person in living in Singapore, was to give encouragement to those who needed, wanted, or were looking for it. I’m not saying I’m a saint, but like some of us who give monetary donations to feed material needs of the less fortunate. Maybe I felt like I still had an exccess of soul and spirit to give, so I shared that, to anyone who needed or wanted it. And that was really it.
2. It’s not that I’m proud of Singapore as much as I’m proud of people in Singapore. Do not mistake this with nationalism, and please try to understand that I have been contributing art and culture to a place that can be seen as home. (My family + friends are here, I am investing my time here to contribute to a society.) But while others choose to see the bad and wonder why we’re stuck in Singapore, I know I’m not alone with people who see the good, that this is where we would like to see local arts & culture flourish, as much as our home as a whole. Almost like rooting for the underdog I guess.
Why did I feel that motivation was necessary?
1. I definitely made the mistake of grouping all negative sentiment into a category of “haters”, or people not proud of Singapore, prior to writing the “Singapore, What Do You Want?” But I would like to remind everyone, that this is very wrong thinking. I can be guilty of it when my emotions get the better of me.
But there are definitely some purely negative statements that get vocalised, and tear away at peoples’ souls. Ridicule for people who believe in something different from them, getting called names for the amusement of showing everyone how smart alecky one can be. I can appreciate satire, but I think we can draw a line when our words deride the integrity and character of someone we do not know. But again, this is a personal standard, how you use the Internet is entirely up to you. You will understand if I don’t listen to what you have to say if I cannot learn anything new.
But in the course of understanding the various grievances that we have, we should raise our voices if we do not agree with something. It is through public discourse that we can understand each other and work together for a better home for all of us. It doesn’t always have to be more money, welfare or convenience, it could also be more understanding and social graces with each other.
Thank you again, for reading. For leaving your comments, for sharing your experiences, thoughts, frustrations and hopes. I think Singapore is in an important transition, and I’m no expert policy maker, economist who can increase our GDP at the drop of a hat. But I, like others, can at least contribute to the culture of Singapore. Something I feel we’ve left behind in the name of progress. It may not mean much to some, but it means a lot to others. We’re not waiting for some great external act to galvanise the people, or have a sense of community. But I think we can start in our own little pockets on the ground, and slowly chip away at the unfinished identity of being a son or daughter of a place we would like to call home.