Thursday, April 28, 2011

A young Singaporean's political awakening

A well-written, illuminating essay by a 20-year old Singaporean.

It all begins with political apathy

by Loh Peiying (source)

Recently I saw an advertisement for a three-room flat near my place. It was going for over S$400,000. That scared me. The amount set off alarms in my head. I went to ask my father for more details. He told me he had bought our current five room flat in 1983 for S$123,000, but today’s market value for it is approximately $650,000. That’s just insane. I know life is not meant to be a bed of roses, I know I would have to work hard, but these prices seem insurmountable. Moreover, I believe the prices will continue to climb if nothing effective is done to solve the rising costs of living. Does that mean that to have my own place, I have to live an eternity of debt? What about kids? Do I even dare consider raising any?

What about others who are less fortunate than I am? What are they going to do?

I have some friends who aren’t as lucky as me. They did fairly well for their A Levels or their GPAs but it was not enough to make the cut for our local universities. I understand that the system is based on merit and that is fair and justified. What I cannot stomach is the number of foreign students studying in our local universities, on our money. What gives our government the confidence that these people will stay and ‘integrate’?

While I was doing a stint as a relief teacher, an elderly cleaning lady came up to me and complained that students were pouring paint into the sinks and clogging up the plumbing. She implored me in Chinese, “Please tell your students not to do this anymore. We lead a very hard life you know. Each month I only earn $500, it is tough enough already.”

What? $500? She is so much older than me and my salary then was more than twice hers. Her work is so much more taxing and how is $ 500 enough to survive?

There is this old lady near my block. She is always hunched, pushing a trolley and picking up cardboard boxes. Once I saw her fighting viciously with another old man for a cardboard box. Is this our so-called modern and First World society? I am sure she’s not the only one in Singapore living like this.

Why are there people like her living on the streets, while our ministers earn so much? What justifies this gulf of disparity and why aren’t they doing anything? This makes me so angry. How can we just stand by and watch – and not do anything?

Being paid so much, there should be accountability. Is there?

I have become disillusioned with the ruling elite in the ways that they trample on our rights as citizens and cut our vocal cords on politics. There is something very morally wrong with the way we are governed.

Read the complete essay here.

No comments: