Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing brought forth many different sentiments of Singaporeans, including Singapore moving forward without our founding father. This post is an effort to reach out to the millennials and the generations after, or what many are increasingly branding us as – the “Strawberry Generation”.
Born with a silver spoon, our generation currently lives in the fruits of our fathers’ and Mr Lee’s legacy. Many of us have not tasted poverty like our parents nor have the drive our parents had to build up businesses or earn money for sustenance of their family. We were born with a roof over our heads, security at our doorstep, in an uncorrupted and developed country.
As a result of being too comfortable, many of us remain self-entitled today, taking on the attitude of “what I can get” compared to the attitude of “what I can give”. Having not been through the comparison of “not having food on the table” to “having a simple meal on the table” like our forefathers did, we take on the mentality of “why the food on the table is not enough”. In other words, we constantly gripe about Singapore and seek greener pastures, wondering why the country is not doing enough for us.
Some dislike Singaporean culture, having not lived through the years that were spent building it up. Some disagree with government policies, some find Singapore much too expensive, some hate National Service, some complain about long working hours, many complain about the weather.
Some seek immigration (or have immigrated) as Singapore is simply too small to provide them with opportunities to flourish. Some immigrate in search of an expatriate lifestyle deemed more glamorous. Some remain socially conditioned to the old belief that the Caucasian lifestyle is better, prefer to marry expatriates, or wish to lift themselves out of being branded “local”. A minority few who have gone abroad prefer to adopt a westernized accents compared to our Singaporean accent.
Which of these gripes are anything like the Japanese occupation period (1942 – 1945) or Singapore’s initial struggles that our forefathers had to fight and toil through?
We take for granted the food on our table, forgetting the amount of time, sweat, and labour our forefathers put into for the past 50 years.
There is an increasing need for our generation and the generations after to reflect on our history and remember the source of water and food on our table today. There is a need for our generation to feel a greater sense of belonging to our country and feel proud to be Singaporeans – which in my opinion is lacking today.
Let us uphold Mr Lee’s legacy by striving to build and more importantly sustain the uniquely Singaporean heritage and foundations Mr Lee and our forefathers left for us, to make Singapore a more resilient and a robust economy for the next generations to come.
Let us not take for granted that Singapore will always be the safe and secure country we have lived in since we were born. Resilient as we may be, we remain geographically and economically vulnerable and there is still a need for us to stand united as a nation to be continuously resilient.
It has been a few days since Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing, yet the Singaporean spirit on the streets and online remains so alive that it is impossible not to feel united. We cheer as a nation, and similarly we cry as a nation. From those expressing their grief abroad to social media to the crowds of people gathering and queuing to pay their last respects to Mr Lee, this is the Singaporean spirit that our generation should seek to uphold – unity.
While we mourn for Mr Lee Kuan Yew, let’s not forget to attribute credit to not just Mr Lee, but also extend a word of appreciation and thanks to the generation that paved the way through for us. Under Mr Lee’s guidance, our fathers worked tirelessly through the past 50 years, transforming Singapore from slums to riches in this short span of time. Majority would agree that this transformation alone is remarkable for a small country with no natural resources.
As we move toward an aging population, let us not forget to “yin shui si yuan” (饮水思源) as the Chinese saying goes – to make provisions to care for our fathers as they took care of us.