Monday, August 6, 2012

What patriotism means to me

Last week, Feng Tianwei made history for Singapore at the Olympics by winning the singles bronze medal in table tennis. The way she played was inspirational - you could tell that she put in everything she had. Yet, after that tremendous effort, you once again have your detractors determined to put a dampener on things by dredging up the tired old issue of FTs on online forums.

I usually dislike reading these forums as the level of debate there can be so shallow. These netizens conveniently paint everyone with undiscerning strokes of the brush. FTs = bad. Singaporeans = good. Singaporeans who dare say anything remotely in defence of FTs = gahmen lackeys. They often revel in their cloak of anonymity, thinking that gives them the freedom to unleash their taunts laced with spite. Sometimes, I can barely believe these are my fellow Singaporeans, they've become so ungracious and mean-spirited.

Look, I'll be the first to say I think the government handled the whole immigration policy badly. Basically they opened the floodgates and country was not prepared - neither the people nor the infrastructure. Certainly, the grovelling attitude made matters worse. It reinforced the superior mentality in some FTs and antagonised the locals. I think since the General Election, the government has recognised its mistake and is trying to make amends but many Singaporeans see it as too little, too late.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the FTs who did come to Singapore and take up citizenship, they're already here. And many of them are ordinary folks like you and I, trying to make a life for themselves. What is the point of continuously casting them in the villain's role? These are human beings, not robots to be treated like punching bags.

Forums have always complained that the table tennis FTs came to Singapore but failed to deliver. Now that Feng Tianwei has won, they're claiming that she was playing for herself, not Singapore. Damned if she does, damned if she doesn't.

Here's my conclusion: Haters will always find something to hate. They don't seek to build up, they seek to tear down. Some people just need a target for their vitriol and they don't realise that it reflects badly on themselves. The forums that thrive on fanning the flames of discord are horribly irresponsible, in my opinion.

They say these FTs have no ties here, they have no loyalty to Singapore. But from what I see on the Internet, some of the worst, most disloyal, anti-Singapore comments come from Singaporeans. They think nothing of bashing their own country on the world wide web, for all to see.

It's like the spoilt child syndrome. They complain about the food they get, the clothes they wear and the toys they're given. Yet when their parents give an adopted child a toy, they shriek "it's mine! how dare you give it away!" Birthright does not entitle one to behave like a hooligan. Some Singaporeans seriously need to shed that entitled mentality.

I used to have a colleague who would gripe about her job everyday. She would complain that she had no prospects there, how it sucked that she had to work Saturdays, how her boss wasn't fair, how her job was not fulfilling, blah blah. When she was finally promoted, she whined, "now they'll expect me to work harder." The gall of it all. I never had the courage to ask her but I constantly wondered, "if you hate it so much here, why don't you just leave?"

Every country has its inadequacies. All things considered, ours isn't so bad. Patriotism isn't about hating foreigners or denying its problems, it's about being proud of your country regardless. Just as you wouldn't put your family down in front of others (no matter how much you disagreed with them), it isn't cool to be constantly talking smack about your country.

I don't agree with some of our government policies but the fact remains that I love my country. The government is NOT the country. If we choose to earn a living, raise a family and make a home here, then we should at least have the grace to appreciate it for what it is, blips and all.

It's National Day on Thursday. Beyond the parade, the flags, the public holiday, I hope a fire burns in your heart for our beautiful nation.

Happy birthday, Singapore ♥


Anonymous said...

Wow, Monica! Great post! You are right. The gahmen-bashing on the net can be infectious and addictive. If we are having a bad day in the office/if the traffic is horrid/the kids came back with lousy grades/my neighour earns more than me/whatever, it's so convenient to turn around and blame the gahmen/FTs/immigration policies (del where appropriate).
A lot of times, when we point a finger at others, we are de facto pointing 4 fingers (or thumb and 3 fingers) back at ourselves.
I guess a lot of us need to learn to cultivate positive thinking, appreciating what we already have and being kind to one another. Only then can we really make S'pore a better home for ourselves and our families.

Grace (i am not a robot)

monlim said...

Grace: Hahaha, I love your delete where appropriate segment. You're spot on, somehow netizens can blame anything on the gahmen, like we have no responsibility whatsoever.

We need to set a better example for our kids, so that they can learn to be gracious and as you said, make Singapore a better place.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, you don't seem to love Singaporeans as much as you love your country. I agree with you on the inadequent policies but I think you views on Singaporeans can be more constructive. Singaporeans are one of the nicest people I know. Like you pointed, haters will always be haters... Singaporeans complain about Singaporeans all the time - anti FT, rude, lazy, not being civic minded, too kaypoh. It's endless. I think more
importantly for our children, is how we unified Singaporeans to do the right thing.

monlim said...

Anon: If you read my post properly, you'll know that I was referring to the netizens on those forums. Clearly, I know many lovely Singaporeans, that should be understood. It's not possible to love your country without loving the people, the two are intertwined.

Rachel said...

Constructive? Stop bashing Singapore! That's monlim's message and I salute her for it.

Thanks for this reminder, monlim! I get tired of hearing all the complaints that Singapore is not this, is not that, it's so refreshing to hear your message. This can be a much better country if we focus on how to make it better than on hating foreigners.

monlim said...

Thanks, Rachel!

Anonymous said...

Yup, thanks for pointing out, I thought you were talking about netizens until I read your example of your colleague. Anyway, thats not the point.

Agree with Rachel, stop bashing Singapore; FT and Singaporeans. I'm too, tired of complains about both FT and Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

Spot on! Great post!

Sam said...

Thanks, monlim. Your post just summed up what I feel about patriotism and FTs. Thanks for sharing. May I suggest that you sharing your post in ST forum or Today? I think more people need to read this and get a reality check. I think there are too much irrational negativity out there.

Anonymous said...

Finally, a post that's not criticising goverment and standing up for Singapore! You have spoken all my thots. Thank you!


Unknown said...

Thank you for writing your blogpost. It is required for balance, and to succinctly give a clearer perspective to everyone.

Daddy Bear said...

Thank you for the great post. It spells out everything that I feel as well. Will share it with my friends.

We should all love our country, blips and all, through thick and thin.

Happy National Day!


JOE RABBIT said...

Great comment.

This is my country, this my peoples, We Are One United Peoples.
We Are Singaporean

Happy 47th National Da

Anonymous said...

Thank you Monlim! You spelt out my thots on this issue and expressed it perfectly! I agree with previous post and hope you will send this to ST.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Im Lisa :)

Anonymous said...

Patriotism probably exists the strongest in kids or those who have not gone out to the working world and striving to earn a living for yourself. That's when you really open your eyes and not live in the sheltered happy little bed of roses that MOE has created for you.

-cheers, from someone like you before.

juliehaw said...

I do believe that more people who are positive about our country should speak out like you. The detractors are always louder and they always make us look so bad as a people with their awful views on FT etc.

Looking from the outside in, I see a successful country and people with shared values. Shared values like ' Food is an equalizer ( jag owners waiting in queues for char kway teow)' ; relatively unflashy about wealth vis a vis other Asian countries.

Many people don't want to see this. Like you I do think some policies were wrong, but not everything is.
I am a pledge saying Singaporean and I say Majullah Singapura!

Anonymous said...

It is precisely that people are patriotic that's why they are angry that the person who won the medal for Singapore is not really a Singaporean.

There is hardly a Singapore in places outside of schools and NS. Actually, we can already see a diminishing Singapore in the technical courses in all the universities. Perhaps you might like to wonder about what people really mean when they say the Government of Singapore behaves more like a corporation rather than a real Government.

monlim said...

In response to a couple of comments: Patriotism is unconditional, it's not about loving the country only when everything is the way we want it. Do you love your family only if they're perfect?

It is far healthier to focus our energies on what can be rather than what we cannot change. If we insist on zooming in on narrow definitions like Singaporeans are only those who are born here, we simply make life miserable for ourselves and others.

yd said...

Re Anon (9.47am), while I do believe that a group of keyboard critics are fuelled by their patriotism and love for Singapore. By reading most of the views and in the language used, I have to say that majority are just ranting and being 'spoilt brats' as monlim suggested. Bitching about something incessantly and condemning it to the deepest hell does not suggest to me that it is borne out of love and patriotism. Sometimes I think that some expect the Govt/ others to create a Singapore which is perfect for them, to lay out the red carpet before they step out of the car.

While I understand the views of those in the 'Olympian is not Singaporean-enough' camp, I wonder if anyone is going to ever be Singaporean enough for them.

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy isn't it? Unless we give new citizens a chance, they are not going to want to integrate with these people who are throwing virtual vulgarities at them. Kind of like new colleagues? If you treat them with suspicion and derision, they are not going to like the company or the colleagues. Now I'm not saying be a doormat but a smile and a little understanding and hospitality while they find their feet won't hurt.

asingaporeson said...

Hi Monlim,
Just read your post. Thanks for sharing your views on Singaporeans and FT.
I've just got one point. It's your last statement: Happy Birthday, Singapore. Help me to understand this. Why "Birthday"? By using this word it seems we are acknowledging that Singapore never existed before 9th August 1965, which you should know better. We gained independence from breaking away from Malaysia on that day. We were "born" way before that, if you will. So to me, it's not "Happy Birthday" at all. It should be "Happy Independence Day". I always believe that credit should only be given where credit is due. I love Singapore, and this is a distortion I cannot stomach.


monlim said...

Just a note: I will not be publishing any comments that rehash the same, old views on FTs that you see on many forums. This is not a political blog and this post is just my personal view as a Singaporean. You are free to disagree with me but I reserve the right not to publish anything I deem as unedifying or unconstructive.

ricardo said...

Will all Singaporeans join me in congratulating Ms Feng on her medal?

Tianwei, we are proud you are Singaporean and may you will continue to contribute to sport in Singapore for a long time.

Lets all be happy for her.

siddharth said...

Hi Monlim,
That was bull's eye when you mentioned about entitlement,child adoption and birthrights! I gave the same analogy to my friends when discussing about the FT issue. I myself a foreigner once, served my NS who did INTEGRATE and now a part of this great society, started to have this feeling that the immigration policy did mess it up big time. Everyone knows that its unfair for the singaporeans but you can't victimize someone who is here for his own survival. We are no GOD. We are all just human beings. The whole idea of FT being bad can be wiped off only when the Government addresses the issue. I can point you an insane number of foreigners who are breaking the law inside Singapore and making use of the opportunities. I infact mailed and spoke to MOE that people(foreigners) are breaking the rules but there was NO ACTION TAKEN nor did I see an interest in them to investigate the issue! Only when our mom is willing to listen to her own kid before she can pamper the guest, the whole hoo haa of FT will subside. Lets look forward for a better future.

Happy 47th National Day

juice parade said...

I like the way you write.
Way to go!
- Mig

Anonymous said...

hey, i love your article!! i think its sane, honest and you mind if i share in on fb?

monlim said...

Sure, go ahead. Think it has been shared by others already :)

Hippos said...

Spoilt Child Syndrome indeed! :) How appropriate a description!

grthchn said...

Hi Monica,

Great post !!....this really touched on the splint(s) in the hearts of all singaporeans......both rational and otherwise.

If I may ask, rhetorically.....and as a Singaporean.......weren't our forefathers who came before us, begin with ?

So I guess the bigger issue would actually be if the migrants are determined to stay as citizens to integrate & contribute in nation building or are they just staying to enjoy the "carrots", which have been offered, in the hope that they will exercise the former option ?

Regardless....Happy National Day (belated) !!

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