Saturday, 1 November 2014

Basis Of Singaporean Spirit - People Power: Time to Rekindle Our Singaporean Spirit

[This is part of the book: Basis Of Singaporean Spirit - People Power, click here to go to the main page]

What do you think is the Singapore Spirit? In 2010, PM Lee Hsien Loong defined it as a shared ideology, such as: "shared memories", "shared loyalty", "shared responsibility", etc.
It may sound great and give a sense of cohesiveness but do you know that that definition is totally wrong? In fact, it is this silly definition that had created tons of problems for all of us.

Let me ask you this: Are you sure we shared all those? The answer is an obvious "No".

Take new immigrants for example, do you think their "memories" are the same as that of true-blue Singaporeans? – No.

When Singaporeans have to serve National Service while the first generation of new immigrants do not have to, do you think there is “shared responsibility”? – No.

If one day, Singapore became a place less desirable than the immigrants’ country of origin (lower pay, crowded, dirty, etc.), do you think new immigrants will continue to stay in Singapore or will they go back to their country of origin? More likely than not, it will be the later, if so, what “shared loyalty” are we talking about?

It is now obvious that that person’s understanding of Singapore Spirit is wrong. So how can there be cohesiveness? With that wrong understanding, the more immigrants we have in Singapore, the more obvious the problems will be.

Personally, I don’t like the term “Singapore Spirit” because it is lacking the “people” factor. Singapore, like any country, is simply a region identified as a distinct entity in political geography. It has no life. What gave it the life are their People. Therefore, I prefer to use the term “Singaporean Spirit” instead.

However, the feeling of being a Singaporean today is very different than it was before. The feelings of injustices are everywhere. At the same time, we are also given all sorts of labels – internally as well as externally.
Deep in our hearts, we know this is not the Singapore we want. We are well aware that we are not as labelled. We are far more capable, united and refined than anyone else, especially when compared with our so-called ‘leaders’.

All these problems are rooted from the lack of understanding of the basis of our spirit.

It is therefore important for me to define the basis, which is what I summarised as: Basis of Singaporean Spirit – “BOSS” for short.
In Chinese, I shall call it 《坡精神》.
“Singapore”, in Chinese, is written as “新加坡”. So the “” represents our country. Literally, the “” also means a small gentle slope – we are small, but well-mannered and humble, yet a significant part of the overall landscape.
精神”, in Chinese, means spirit. The reason why I chose “” is also because it rhymes with the English acronym – “BOSS”.

BOSS stands for “Basis Of Singaporean Spirit”. BOSS is the common belief on the best way to build a home. BOSS unites everyone under one common belief – the best way to build a home.
BOSS is not about creating a replica of US, Switzerland, France, or whatever. BOSS is about our distinctive characteristics and our core competencies. BOSS demonstrates our uniqueness and shows the World why we are better. BOSS is our guiding principle for our thoughts and behaviours.

To understand BOSS, the first thing is to look at Singapore’s existence. Singapore existed not because of its multi-racial society. No country in the World existed because of that; in fact, this is always the source of conflicts around the World.

Multi-racial society is the result of our nation building – not the foundation. The foundation of Singapore started with a single belief – the common belief on the best way to build a home. This belief is written very clearly into our Pledge:

We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and
progress for our nation.

People from all walks of life, who shared the same belief came together to build this dream home that we now called “Singapore”.
The multi-racial, multi-language, multi-religion constitution of Singapore that we see today is the result of the diversity of people who shared the same vision, willing to sacrifice, and willing to build this dream home together.

The composition will change over time as our value and belief spread across the World, but the foundation remains the same:

“The common belief on the best way to build a home”

It is this foundation that brought us the harmony that we enjoyed.

Today are we united?
No. We have leaders who labelled Singaporeans with all sorts of names, denying the fact that all the problems were created by them in the first place.

Did we achieve happiness, prosperity and progress?
No. I know those who defended this will jump into explaining how much we have achieved, etc. But did you realise how the objectives are ordered within our Pledge? Happiness is listed first.

I can also see the PAP government trying to make a lot of changes to rectify the situation. However, implementing changes without understanding the basis and value is suicidal.
For any organisation, it must have a guiding principle, which serves as a basis where all decisions are based upon.
Without a proper guiding principle, decisions and actions would be based solely upon monetary value and pressure from different rights groups as well as individual ideology. When an organisation loses its core principle or deviates from it, it loses it soul.
What is the guiding principle of today’s PAP government? Well, GDP growth. Technically, there is nothing wrong, but if it sacrificed Happiness, it is against our Pledge – Nothing will be right if leaders are doing things against the Pledge – the Basis Of Singaporean Spirit.

Some of you might argue that you need to have growth in order to have Happiness. But that statement is faulted. It is really about priorities. This is what Mr Lee Kuan Yew once replied:

“What are our priorities? First, the welfare, the survival, of the people...”

He did follow the Pledge and set the priorities accordingly. Did he sacrifice prosperity and progress? No, he didn’t.

Today, with the busy and stressful life, exacerbated by political issues, aggressive rights groups,  BOSS had been overlooked – people started to fight among one another, defending their own groups and ideas while trampling on others – overlooked that we all started from the same common root.

It is now time to remind all of us about BOSS and revive the hidden values – let it be our guiding force for our thoughts and behaviours.

BOSS Wisdom: “The Basis Of Singaporean Spirit is the common belief on the best way to build a home, which is described in details within our Pledge.” – BOSS

[This is part of the book: Basis Of Singaporean Spirit - People Power, click here to go to the main page]

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