Us & Them

In general, Singaporeans are such bigots with regards to our neighbours across the causeway.

History and nation-building necessitate that we should hold a certain disdain for those who were once (briefly) our fellow ‘countrymen’.

***

The Singaporean collective consciousness is shaped by decades of near-ceaseless exultation of our tiny island’s miraculos existence. We are not supposed to be, but we do.

The chosen strategic tool for sustaining this existence is constant, but controlled, fear. A finely crafted siege mentality that is so ingrained in our national pysche that we no longer aware of it – we merely function (and think) in accordance with it’s principles.

We are required to believe in our invincibility and our vulnerability at the same time. These opposing doctrines are supposed to sit seamlessly and at ease with each other.

And it works, somehow.

Overcoming the impossibilty of accepting two conflicting ideas at once is not something new for Singaporeans.

We have to be creative and think out of the box, but within certain (unmarked, shifting) bounds.

We must never stop changing and adapting, but stay true to an elusive, idealized version of ourselves (I.e Asian, conservative, family-oriented, civic-minded).

We must open ourselves up to the world, but stay impervious and untainted by it’s decadence, wicked ways and dangerous ideas.

We are told to have courage and to take risks, but also to be pragmatic, reasonable and just slightly afraid.

We have to be this and that, here and there, yes and no, everything and nothing.

But this may just be ego-centrism. Life asks too much of everyone, not only of us.

***

Against all odds, I like KL.

I’m by turns fascinated and frustrated with the seemingly haphazard urban planning. Some of it’s streets and buildings look like they’re after-thoughts.

Yet, it is more cosmopolitan than Singapore, in so many ways. A more vibrant Indie scene, braver individuals (who care little for pragmatism), a greater hunger to be more than just ‘very good’ (although the system is far from being very good).

Also, I enjoy the cheaper stuffs. Speaking like a true blue Singaporean.

***

I do not like crossing the causeway. Dirty public toilets have a large part to play in this.

But I do envy the Malaysians for their long stretches of roads. There are few things I love more than seeing the world roll by at 90 km/h (or double this speed if I’m on a train).

***

I’m writing this on the coach back home, on my phone.

Right now, I can’t wait to get back home.

Soon, I’ll be dying to leave again.

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